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article imageBalloon Sinuplasty May Offer Relief for Chronic Sinusitis

By Christopher Wager     Nov 8, 2010 in Science
New non-invasive surgery technique called Balloon Sinuplasty may offer an alternative to drug treatments for sinus sufferers.
In America, some 37 million people suffer some form of sinusitis from the middle to severe. Sinusitis is the irritation of the soft tissue within the sinus cavities called the mucous membrane. When a person gets a head cold or an allergy attack these membranes become irritated and inflamed preventing normal drainage that would otherwise flush out infection causing bacteria which in some cases can be hard to get rid of.
Some of the common symptoms include headache, earache, tenderness around the nose and face, loss of smell and congestion. The condition of sinusitis can be both chronic, meaning persistent and long lasting, or acute, meaning brought on suddenly.
Traditionally, the goal of treatment has been to promote relief of symptoms and tackling the infection. In order to promote drainage, experts suggest the use of steam vapor, either by leaning over a pan of hot water with a towel over your head, a steam vaporizer, or a hot steamy shower. For the fight against the infection, a course of antibiotics is usually the first attack followed by saline irrigation backed up with the use of a decongestant or a nasal steroid. A word of caution regarding decongestants; they can become habit forming. However, in some cases pain relievers and vasoconstrictors are also used. There is also a small percentage of sufferers that do not respond to any known drug treatments. Dr Wong of Salem Community Hospital in Salem, Ohio, adds, "If your headaches seem to be relieved by decongestants, but you do not have a sinus infection, you may actually have a migraine or tension headache, which requires other types of treatment."
Dr. Wong is a surgeon at Salem Community Hospital and one of the first to offer Balloon Sinuplasty as an alternative treatment for sinusitis sufferers. Here's how it works; the surgeon begins by inserting a sinus balloon catheter into the blocked cavities to position the balloon, then inflating the balloon which gently opens the sinus passageway. In addition, because this is a non-invasive procedure there is no packing required.
"The goal of surgery is to re-establish ventilation and drainage of the diseased sinus spaces by widening the drainage pathways."
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