It is officially the winter season, and with it comes the colds, flu, and the dreaded winter sinus infections. What often starts as a cold or flu causes the mucosa inside the nose to become inflamed and swollen. This action will block the sinus openings, and not allow the sinus to drain properly. The build up of mucous in the sinuses is a nice warm swamp that bacteria love, thus the sinus infection has begun.
What can be done about these sinus infections? First of all, try not to get a cold in the first place. But if you are unlucky, or if you have allergies
that can flare up in the winter such as mold, dust, and pets, then the use of saline rinses are important. The nasal mucosa functions better when it is moist. And, as I always say to my patient, the solution to pollution is dilution!!!
Other things you can do would be to use Flonase or Nasacort, which are both over the counter. Mucinex can also help. If allergies are contributing, then taking an OTC antihistamine like Claritin, Allegra, or Zyrtec will help. If symptoms persist and/or fever has developed it may be necessary to see a health professional, and an antibiotic may be prescribed.
If sinus symptoms have been persistent for 3 months or more, or if you have had several sinus infections in a year then please call us, as there are more aggressive forms of treatment. After getting a CT scan of the sinus to further evaluate there are many procedures, including sinus surgery, that can be done in the office to help alleviate symptoms. This allows for a much quicker recovery – usually people return to work the next day. There is less pain – If you can handle getting a cavity filled you can tolerate a sinus procedure in the office. There is not the risk associated with a general anesthetic, and many more benefits. This procedure has the same efficacy/results as the sinus surgery that we do in the hospital. However, some people will not be candidates for in office procedure, and there are procedure that can be performed in a hospital under anesthesia that can alleviate symptoms.
There are many options available for symptom relief. If conservative, over the counter, options are not helping please call Michigan ENT and allergy for an appointment. Have a merry Christmas!!!