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Do You Need Surgery For Sinus Infections?
The sinuses are hollow cavities that help with mucus and fluid drainage. When these cavities become inflamed or irritated, either due to allergies, asthma, polyps, a deviated septum, or other factors, chronic sinus infections can occur. While many people can benefit from medication, nasal sprays, and nasal irrigation, sometimes surgery is the best option. Here’s what to expect after functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS).
Preparing for surgery
FESS is typically a simple procedure. The operation is an outpatient procedure, and patients experience little to no downtime. There is not much prep required for surgery. However, the ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist may prescribe antibiotics or steroids to reduce the risk of infection before the day of the appointment. Patients will need to stop taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in the 5 days before the surgery. On the day of surgery, do not eat or drink anything unless prescribed by the doctor.
During the procedure
Endoscopic sinus surgery uses a small endoscope and tiny instruments inserted in the nasal passages to see into the sinuses. This method usually wholly bypasses the need for an incision. These techniques also allow the ENT to examine the sinuses with more precision. Most patients remain awake during the surgery, under local or general anesthesia. Patients may ask for more sedation if the operation is creating a lot of anxiety.
The first few days after FESS
Patients will go home the same day as the sinus surgery. There may be some mild discomfort as the anesthesia wears off. For the first week, patients should avoid blowing the nose. Typically, patients will see the ENT again the day after surgery to clear out any areas of inflammation or scar tissue.
Follow-up appointments are usually scheduled weekly after the procedure. These visits are to clean out inflammation and monitor healing. Expect some bloody postnasal discharge for the first 2 weeks after surgery. Most patients experience full recovery within about 4-6 weeks.
Will surgery get rid of my infections?
Endoscopic sinus surgery is one of the most effective treatments for chronic sinus infections. While patients may still get mild infections caused by the common cold, there is typically a significant improvement in symptoms. If allergies or polyps were contributing to the patient’s chronic sinusitis, medication therapy may still be necessary.
Your first step to healthier sinuses
People who experience infections that last for more than 2-3 weeks should consult with an ENT. Typically, the doctor will start with less invasive treatments, such as nasal sprays or medications. In some cases, surgery, such as FESS, could be the best option. Speak with an ENT to learn more about chronic sinusitis and sinus surgery.