It is a condition characterised by swelling of the lining of the nose and paranasal sinuses. This is often due to inflammation or infection.
Common symptoms include thick yellow or green nasal discharge, nasal stuffiness, recurrent colds, sneezing with or without facial pain and headache. It is divided into different subtypes depending upon the cause and duration of symptoms.
Acute sinusitis occurs rapidly over a short time. If the symptoms persist for a number of weeks, it is regarded as chronic sinusitis.
The initial treatment includes nasal irrigation, decongestants, antiallergics and antibiotics.
In patients where the symptoms do not respond to prolonged and maximal medical treatment, the ENT surgeon will suggest a CT scan of the sinuses and may carry out an endoscopy of the nose in the out patient.
In certain situations, there may be an option for sinus surgery to open the natural pathways of the sinuses. This may be carried out by minimally invasive techniques such as FESS (Functional endoscopic sinus surgery). This involves the insertion of the endoscope, a very thin fiber-optic tube, into the nose for a direct visual examination of the openings into the sinuses. With state of the art micro-debriders and instruments, abnormal and obstructive tissues are then removed. In the majority of cases, the surgical procedure is performed entirely through the nostrils, leaving no external scars. There is little swelling and only mild discomfort
Another technique available is that of Balloon Sinuplasty. In this, specially designed balloons are used under endoscopic guidance to widen the natural openings of the sinuses. The advantage of the procedure is that the surgery is less extensive, there is often less removal of normal tissues, and can frequently be performed on an outpatient basis.