By Michael Branch, MD
More than 30 million people in the U.S. are affected by chronic sinusitis. Each year it’s one of the most common reasons that individuals visit their doctor. People who suffer from ongoing sinus complications usually have difficulty breathing, contributing to other health disorders.
Symptoms of Chronic Sinusitis
• Nasal obstruction
• Difficulty breathing
• Postnasal drainage
• Thick mucosal drainage
• Weakening sense of smell
• Dry mouth
• Trouble sleeping
• Pain in eyes and cheeks
• Sore teeth and gums
• Facial sensations of pressure or pain
Several of the leading causes of chronic sinus disorders are allergies, hay fever, nasal polyps, deviated septum (crooked nasal bone), and environmental pollutants. Given the commonality of this condition, the treatment options for sinusitis have been documented since the 1700s in medical journalism.
The conventional therapeutic treatments are antibiotics, steroidal nasal sprays, over-the-counter decongestants, and saline irrigation. But when these standard-of-care approaches fail, which unfortunately as these remedies show a minimal curative benefit, that’s when surgical procedures have proven beneficial.
The good news is that since 2005, an alternative method that is minimally invasive has established itself to be efficacious for improving and managing chronic sinus disease successfully. The procedure is called balloon sinus dilation. After years of highly regarded balloon angioplasty procedures were established in the cardiovascular field, this technique was developed for the otolaryngology specialty to work in much the same way to open the sinus passages.
The balloon is placed with a tiny catheter into the sinus opening and then into the narrowed or blocked passageway. It is inflated with saline to dilate the sinus passages for approximately 10 seconds. After this takes place, the sinus pathway is enlarged six-fold, allowing for proper drainage and ventilation.
Keeping in mind that some patients will require traditional surgery depending on the severity of their symptoms or anatomical issues, most chronic sinusitis sufferers will significantly benefit from balloon dilation’s minimally invasive procedure. Once they have undergone the procedure, their need for decongestants, nasal sprays, and the standard treatments are usually no longer needed. This treatment is safe, highly- efficient, and long-lasting, so patients can rest assured that they will be able to live a quality-filled life with the ability to breathe naturally once again. If you’ve suffered from sinus disorders, you will understand the joy that patients experience once they can breathe normally.
Michael Branch, MD
Otolaryngology – Ear, Nose, and Throat
Dr. Branch is a board certified otolaryngologist. He was born in Jacksonville and raised in Gainesville, Fl. His first love was music, playing drums in various rock and roll bands in Gainesville in the 1960s–1970s. He enlisted in the USAF in 1973 and served active duty as an operating room technician for four years. He was commissioned in the USN in 1984 and, after completing residency in Otolaryngology in 1993, served three years active duty as an Otolaryngologist in the Naval Hospitals at Orlando and Pensacola. He has been in private practice since 1996. He is married with three adult children and three adult stepchildren. He has special interests in theoretical thought and reformed theology. He enjoys playing, writing and recording music with his bandmates in Gainesville and loves fishing with his lovely wife, snorkeling and diving.
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