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What Is Chronic Sinusitis?
The sinuses are typically responsible for helping to drain mucus and other fluid. When someone gets a cold, sometimes the cold can develop into a sinus infection. Unlike these mild infections, however, chronic sinusitis occurs when the sinuses are chronically unable to drain and, in turn, swell and become infected. People with allergies or asthma are more prone to develop this condition. While treatment typically depends on the underlying cause, functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS) is one treatment option for chronic sinus infections.
FESS vs other sinus surgery
People who struggle with chronic sinus infections may be candidates for sinus surgery. The primary way that functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS) differs from other surgeries is in the use of an endoscope. Typically, using the endoscope to see inside the nasal cavity and sinuses can bypass the need for an incision. This method of surgery allows for better visualization of the sinuses and can give surgeons a more unobstructed view of the problem.
What to expect
Before surgery, patients will need to stop taking any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for at least 5 days and not eat or drink anything on the day of surgery. In some cases, the surgeon will prescribe steroids or antibiotics before the procedure.
FESS is typically a simple procedure, and patients experience little to no discomfort. The operation can be done with some anesthesia, either local or general. The surgeon uses the endoscope and tiny instruments to remove diseased or obstructed tissue in the nasal passage and sinuses. Most patients stay awake during surgery. FESS can usually be done as an outpatient procedure.
Patients can expect some bloody postnasal discharge to occur for about 2 weeks after surgery. For the first 4-7 days, patients should avoid blowing the nose. Typically, surgery patients will have follow-up appointments with the surgeon in weekly intervals after the procedure until the area heals. During these visits, the surgeon can remove scar tissue and monitor healing.
Will surgery cure my sinus infections?
While patients may still get a sinus infection after having the surgery, the frequency significantly diminishes in most cases. Patients who had allergies or polyps that played a role in the chronic sinusitis may still need to take medications to prevent a recurrence.
Are there other treatment options?
Surgery is typically a last resort for any condition. Before surgery, most ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialists will recommend nasal corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and provide symptom relief. Some patients may also benefit from a saline spray or nasal irrigation treatment to flush out the sinuses. For more information about chronic sinus infections and treatment options, speak with a healthcare provider.