Santa Cruz Ear, Nose, & Throat Medical Group

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Sinus Treatment Options


When it comes to your sinus health, everyone wants a quick and complete remedy. While sometimes it is possible, our staff of knowledgeable ear nose and throat (ENT) specialists at Santa Cruz Ear, Nose and Throat Medical Group will work to uncover the cause of your condition and treat accordingly. ENTs work to produce a thorough diagnosis and find the most inclusive treatment available. As with any complete diagnosis, the ENT considers the patient’s history and overall medical condition.


Medicine for sinus conditions

Many sinus conditions can be treated with over-the-counter or prescription medicine. Patients should always check with their physician before taking medication for sinus conditions. There is a good chance that more than one cause is involved in allergic or other types of sinusitis.

Medications for sinusitis include:

  • Nasal decongestant
  • Antihistamine
  • Eye decongestant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Steroid
  • Cough medicine
  • Antibiotic

Each of these has a specific use in fighting sinusitis. It is important to know if the condition is caused by a virus or bacteria, or is a seasonal/perennial allergy. Decongestants help reduce symptoms like watery eyes and runny nose. Anti-inflammatories and steroids work on symptoms and restoring tissues to a normal state. Antibiotics fight germ infections.

The ENT is an expert at prescribing medications or offering over-the-counter solutions to patients. The doctor may also recommend a combination of medications, depending on the complete diagnosis.


Sinus surgery

Sinus surgery is often required when chronic sinusitis cannot be cured with medicine. The most popular type is endoscopic surgery. This surgery is done with small instruments inserted into the sinus. First, an endoscope is inserted. This is a fiber-optic tube that provides light and visibility to the area.

Over the last few decades, endoscopic surgery has become very successful. It allows the doctor to reach the diseased area without a major incision. Endoscopy also allows the surgeon to remove less tissue than in the past. (1)

Surgery removes abnormal tissue but also allows for the removal of obstructive tissue. Both tissue problems are usually present in chronic sinusitis, and the surgeon takes care of both types in this procedure. The main goal of surgery of the sinus is to improve drainage and allow the tissue lining the sinus, called mucosa, to return to normal. Past procedures removed most or all of the mucosa.

Image guided surgery is a new method that uses an imaging computed tomography (CT) machine to show the surgeon the exact path within the sinus cavities to take. The sinuses are dangerously close to the brain and eyes, and major blood vessels (1), so surgeons may choose this method particularly when other procedures have not worked.

The Caldwell-Luc operation is a procedure that helps the maxillary sinus behind the eye to drain. The surgeon enters the cavity through the roof of the mouth near the back teeth. He then connects the sinus to the nose. The procedure is often used when there is a sinus tumor involved.

This procedure is rare today due to advances in the ability to reach sinuses through the nose. Recovery is somewhat longer than with endoscopic surgery.


Balloon sinuplasty

Several decades ago, heart surgeons began using a balloon dilating catheter to open clogged blood vessels near the heart. In this very successful procedure, the catheter is run through a major blood vessel to reach the diseased area.

In sinus surgery, wire is passed through the nose to the sinus. The catheter is moved over this wire and expanded at high pressure. The resulting widened aperture in the sinus results in better drainage and the tissue’s ability to heal in much better.

A balloon catheter can be used when tissue is surgically removed or as a single procedure on its own. (2) Recovery, like that for endoscopic surgery, is faster and less painful than in conventional surgery.


Rhinoplasty

Best known as a plastic surgery to reshape the nose, rhinoplasty is performed thousands of times very year. In the case of ENTs and the diseases of the nose and sinuses, the rhinoplasty is done to improve breathing and perhaps to help reduce instances of rhinitis and sinusitis.

This surgery reshapes and/or reduces the septum, which is the membrane and cartilage separating the nostrils. There are several benefits to this nasal surgery. The doctor can shape the nose, open nasal passages, work on sinuses that might need removal of tissue and remove tumors or polyps.

Rhinoplasty is a permanent solution to problems of malformed or injured nasal structures. The procedure can be used to alter skin, cartilage and bone.

Rhinoplasty surgery is more invasive than endoscopic surgery and causes extensive bruising and swelling in the face. Recovery is generally 10-14 days, with bandages coming off in four to seven days. (3)

If you’re interested in learning more about how professionals can help treat your sinus condition, contact our office and schedule an appointment today!


  1. http://www.entnet.org/content/sinus-surgery
  2. http://care.american-rhinologic.org/sinuplasty
  3. http://www.webmd.com/beauty/nose-job/rhinoplasty