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Relief from Chronic Sinus Infections
By Traci McBee
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learn more. For more information about balloon sinuplasty, contact Mercy Ear, Nose & Throat Clinic at (515) 222.7761 or visit




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Have you ever suffered from a cold or allergies that
wouldn’t go away?
If so, there’s a good chance you actually had sinusitis (sinus infection). Experts estimate that 37 million people are afflicted with sinusitis each year, making it one of the most common health conditions in America. That number may be significantly higher because the symptoms of sinusitis often mimic those of colds or allergies, and many sufferers never see a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Sinusitis is the irritation of the soft tissue within the sinus cavities caused by bacteria. It is usually preceded by a cold, allergies, or irritation by environmental pollutants that cause the soft tissue to become inflamed, preventing normal drainage that would otherwise flush out infection-causing bacteria. The lack of drainage can lead to chronic congestion and infection. Unlike a cold or allergy, sinusitis requires a physician’s diagnosis and treatment with an antibiotic to cure the infection and prevent future complications.

“Many people suffer for years without being diagnosed,” says Marshall Greiman, M.D., Mercy Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic. “As a guideline, any person who has frequent sinus infections or infections that last three months or more should be evaluated by an ear, nose, and throat physician to ensure that the repeat infections do not cause damage to the sinuses.”

Because the sinuses and airways are exposed frequently to viruses and bacteria, they are more vulnerable than other parts of the respiratory tract, Dr. Greiman explains. Some of the common symptoms of a sinus infection include headache, earache, tenderness around the nose and face, loss of smell, and congestion. The condition of sinusitis can be chronic (persistent and long-lasting) or acute (brought on suddenly). Most patients find relief with antibiotics combined with over-the-counter nasal sprays or decongestants.

However, when traditional medications and antibiotics fail, chronic sinus patients are turning to balloon sinuplasty, a
surgical procedure, to provide permanent relief. This
relatively new technique gently enlarges the sinuses and allows them to drain naturally. The balloon device for the procedure was created by a physician-turned-medical inventor who was frustrated by his own sinusitis. The procedure is similar to the way doctors use balloons to push back clogs in heart arteries and involves inserting a deflated balloon into the sinus cavity before slowly expanding it to restructure the walls of the passageway while maintaining the integrity of the sinus lining.

“We have seen great success using balloon sinuplasty with our patients,” says Dr. Greiman. “The advantages of balloon sinuplasty over traditional sinus surgery are that it preserves more tissue, is less invasive, and takes less time than the conventional surgery—just two hours instead of four.”

Dr. Greiman adds that the procedure minimizes bleeding and swelling because it does not require traditional sinus surgery’s cutting and removal of tissue. Patients who have experienced the loss of taste and smell from chronic sinus infections typically see those senses restored within days of the procedure, and many patients need only minimal pain relief during recovery.

Ideal candidates for balloon sinuplasty are patients who have incurable chronic sinusitis—three to five sinus infections a year that have been treated with antibiotics or a nasal obstruction that cannot be corrected with medications. 

“The painful symptoms associated with chronic sinusitis can be overwhelming and can drastically impact the quality of life for sinus sufferers,” says Dr. Greiman. “We are excited to have the technology available to provide innovative treatments like
balloon sinuplasty. This surgery truly enables patients to enjoy life again.”





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