Sinus Infection

If your nose or face feel stuffed up and painful but over-the-counter options aren’t effective, it’s time to ask an ear, nose, and throat specialist like Dr. Nancy Becker about sinus infections. Make an appointment by phone for a one-on-one consultation at her clinic’s Enumclaw or Bonney Lake, Washington, office. Over 35 million Americans develop sinus infections once a year, but when common treatments aren’t enough, prescriptions or surgeries are worth considering to find relief fast.

Sinus Infection Q & A

What are sinus infections?

Formally known as sinusitis, sinus infections are inflammations of the linings of the sinus air cavities under your face, causing a buildup of fluids and germs. In your nose or cheekbones, between your eyes, or above your brows, you may experience many instances of sudden and long-lasting discomfort.

Sinusitis has many common symptoms:

  • Pressure or pain
  • Congestion (stuffed-up feeling)
  • Runny nose
  • Discolored nose or throat drainage
  • Cough
  • Complications like fever, toothaches, bad breath, or fatigue

What causes sinus infections?

Your sinuses are a system of hollows in your skull that may help with vocalization or humidifying the air you breathe, but they’re easily congested from a variety of threats to your immune system.

Causes may include:

  • Viruses like the common cold
  • Bacteria
  • Allergens (allergic rhinitis)
  • Fungi
  • Noncancerous growths like polyps in your nasal lining
  • Crooked nose (deviated septum)
  • Blocked drainways

When is surgery needed for sinusitis?

If over-the-counter decongestants, saline nasal drops, and humidifying therapies are ineffective after three days, consult Dr. Becker about more significant measures like prescription antibiotics, antihistamines, steroids, and antifungal medications before inquiring about surgery.

Dr. Becker prescribes surgery if your chronic or recurrent sinus infection is primarily due to a deviated septum, nasal polyps, or blocked drain ducts, especially when a CT scan confirms the diagnosis and other treatments have failed after four to six weeks. The primary objective of sinus surgeries is to unblock drainage ducts by widening them, though when a deviated septum is causing sinusitis, a secondary goal may be to balance your airflow by removing or reshaping your nasal cavities.

How does surgery for sinusitis work?

Dr. Becker administers a local or general anesthesia before your surgery, which may take up to four hours. She usually performs endoscopic surgery because it’s less invasive than traditional sinus surgery.

The former involves inserting a lighted camera tool (endoscope) through your nasal passage to help remove polyps or other tissue constricting the ducts, while the latter requires incisions through your face or the inside of your mouth. Dr. Becker always prescribes traditional surgery in the presence of complications like pus, bone infections, or brain abscesses.

Ask her about personalized expectations for recovery and at-home care following your procedure. In severe cases, some patients may require a second surgery for best results.

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