Nasal and Sinus Problems
What is chronic sinusitis?
Chronic sinusitis refers to inflammation of the sinus cavities. Often referred to as ‘rhinosinusitis’ because inflammation of the sinus cavities seldom occurs without inflammation and swelling of the nasal cavities at the same time. You can suffer from sinusitis without having an infection. However, it is thought that there are many potential triggers for this chronic inflammation – allergies, bacterial infections, and fungal infections to name a few.
What are polyps?
Polyps are outgrowths of the natural lining of the sinuses due to inflammation. They are part of chronic rhinosinusitis. Unfortunately, there is little understanding of why they develop and why some people develop polyps others don’t.
There is one group of disorders which are always associated with sinonasal polyps. This is known as Samter’s Triad or Aspirin Triad. It is the diagnosis of aspirin sensitivity, asthma, and sinonasal polyps. The aspirin sensitivity refers direct correlation between the ingestion of aspirin and the development of airway symptoms – throat and chest tightness with difficulty breathing and severe asthma attack.
Sinonasal polyps are distinct from polyps found in other parts of the body. They are not known to lead to cancer.
How do you treat chronic rhinosinusitis and polyps?
Your doctor will often prescribe various medications to try to control the inflammation – topical nasal steroids and sometime oral steroid pills. Traditionally, antibiotics taken orally have also been used for up to 3-4 weeks. In chronic rhinosinusitis, excess mucus production by the nose and sinuses often occurs. As such, nasal saline mists and irrigations are often recommended for nasal hygiene.
Treatment with medications is the mainstay of treatment. Sinus surgery may be considered to assist with decreasing the burden of sinus disease when it is not responding to medical therapy alone. Surgery also relieves obstruction of the sinuses.
The goal of surgery is to decrease the burden of disease, improve the natural function of the sinuses, and assist with ongoing medical therapy. Surgery often leads to better control of sinus disease and fewer courses of acute medical therapy such as antibiotics in the long-term. It is important to understand that surgery will not completely relieve these problems and that the patient would likely remain on maintenance medical therapy.
If you have further questions, please contact us to set up an appointment.