Sinusitis is a leading health care problem. It is believed to be increasing in both incidence and prevalence. It has been estimated that bacterial sinusitis complicates 0.5 to 2% of viral upper respiratory infections (colds). This translates to 20 million cases of bacterial sinusitis in the U.S. every year. The chronic form, lasting more than 12 weeks, has been estimated to affect more than 31 million individuals. This makes it the most common chronic health problem in the United States. The disease frequently presents as "the cold that won't go away."
What are the sinuses?
What causes sinusitis?
What are the symptoms of sinusitis?
* Facial pain and pressure in the sinus area
Any of these symptoms may be present however; it usually takes at least one primary and at least two secondary symptoms to consider the diagnosis. They may be quite severe or relatively mild and may be mainly a nuisance. In chronic sinusitis, these symptoms may be present for years. Frequently, chronic sinusitis is described as "the cold that won't go away."
How is sinusitis diagnosed?
How is sinusitis treated?
Allergies and other medical problems may contribute to recurrent and chronic sinusitis. Appropriate testing and treatment should be pursued if allergies are suspected to be a contributing factor.
When medical treatment is unsuccessful in clearing the sinus infection or when the infections become so frequent, protracted or severe that they affect the individuals quality of life then surgical treatment is considered. Surgery is aimed at making the sinus drainage pathways larger to eliminate obstruction. Any anatomic factor, such as deviated nasal septum, which may contribute to sinus obstruction, is corrected also.
After surgery, packs are left in the nose for a variable period of time depending on the extent of the surgery. The purpose of the packs is to control bleeding and to stent the sinus outflow passages open during the initial phase of healing.
During the post-operative period, debris and crusting must be cleaned from the sinus passages. This is to prevent recurrent infection, prevent scarring with closure of the drainage pathways, and it also makes the patient more comfortable. This is performed in the office on several occasions over the initial four to six weeks after surgery.
It is important to realize that sinus surgery is only part of the process to rehabilitate the sinuses. By the time most patients undergo surgery, the sinus mucus membranes have been sick a long time. Continued medical management after the surgery is very important. Underlying problems such as allergies must be treated to prevent the infections from recurring. In addition, any recurrence of the sinus infection, which occurs, must be promptly treated to prevent it from becoming chronic.
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