What Are Sinuses?
Your sinuses are interconnected, air filled structures in your skull. There are made up of four pairs:
- Maxillary (in the cheekbones)
- Frontal (low-center of the forehead)
- Ethmoid (between the eyes)
- Sphenoid (behind the nasal cavity)
The sinuses are lined with soft tissue called mucosa. These simple structures can become easily blocked or inflamed, leading to countless issues. No one knows for sure why we have sinuses. Some believe they help increase the moisture level of the air we breathe in while others suspect sinuses help enhance our voices.
The dedicated professionals at Red River ENT Associates are here to help with all your sinus needs. We have the resources available to help diagnose and treat any sinus related problem you may develop.
What Kind of Doctor Treats Sinus Issues?
An otolaryngologist is a physician trained in the medical and surgical management of ear, nose and throat diseases and disorders.
Commonly referred to as ENTs, they identify and treat diseases of the ears, nose, sinuses, larynx, mouth, throat and structures of the face and neck. Otolaryngologists complete up to 15 years of college and post-graduate training, including medical school. Many also complete a one- or two-year fellowship to gain more extensive training.
All otolaryngologist must be certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology.
How Are Sinus Issues Diagnosed?
Your doctor will complete a physical exam and ask questions about your symptoms and medical history. They will visually inspect your nose for inflammation and other obstructions. Your doctor may also use a nasal endoscopy or a CT scan for a more in-depth look.
A nasal endoscopy requires your doctor to insert a flexible tube with a lighted camera on the end (endoscope) into your nasal cavity. This will give them a detailed view of your sinuses.
A computerized tomography (CT) scan uses data from a series of X-rays taken from different angles to put together a detailed image of your sinuses. This provides your doctor with a more complete view of your anatomy as compared to a nasal endoscopy.
Common Sinus Issues
Inflammation and swelling of the tissues that line the sinuses is known as sinusitis, the number one reported chronic condition in the United States is. It’s most often caused by an infection brought on by a cold or allergies, leading to breathing difficulties, pain and pressure. When the condition persists for 12 weeks or longer, it is considered chronic.
Treatments vary depending upon the severity of your sinusitis and whether it’s an acute or chronic condition.
A cold, allergies or infection can cause your sinuses to swell, produce excess mucus and become plugged. This interferes with normal mucus drainage, leading to pain and pressure. Treatment options vary, based upon how severe your sinus headache is as well as any additional symptoms you may be experiencing.
Non-allergic rhinitis produces cold-like symptoms and can be caused by a variety of factors including viruses, bacteria and other irritants. Sinus problems present similar symptoms, so you may also need a nasal endoscopy or CT scan to rule out nasal polyps or a deviated septum.
Sinus Infection Treatments
Saline nasal sprays and corticosteroids are useful for rinsing your nasal passages and relieving inflammation. Decongestants are a good short-term solution.
Antihistamines, nasal steroid sprays and oral steroids all provide long-term relief. More permanent solutions are often needed to bring relief to those suffering from chronic sinusitis.
A balloon catheter is inserted through the nostrils into the sinus passages, and gently inflated. This causes the sinus cavity to expand, allowing for easier drainage. The balloon is then deflated and removed. This operation is minimally invasive, provides immediate relief, and results in a much quicker recovery.
Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (FESS)
This surgery uses of a nasal endoscope to open the natural pathways to the sinuses. A thin tube with a camera attached is inserted into the nose, and any obstructive tissue is removed.
Image Guided Surgery
This procedure relies on a 3D mapping system using CT scans and information about the exact position of surgical instruments through the use of infrared signals. This allows the surgeon to accurately guide instruments through complex sinus passages.