What Is Balloon Sinus Dilation?

What Is Balloon Sinus Dilation?

You never think about your nasal sinuses until or unless you have seasonal allergies or a bad cold. Then, the pain and pressure can make your life miserable.

Sinuses are hollow, air-filled cavities located throughout our bodies, but for this blog, we’ll discuss only those within the skull connected to the nose through a hole in the bone called the ostium.

Humans have four pairs of sinuses usually lumped together as a single unit known as the "paranasal sinuses." Their lining contains mucus-secreting cells, epithelial cells, and some immune system cells. They also contain cilia, hair-like structures that help sweep mucus, particles, and invading pathogens out of the nose.

The sinuses also perform several other functions. Because they’re filled with air, they decrease the weight of the skull and lighten the load on the spine. They also humidify and warm incoming air; insulate the eyes, nerves, and other structures; increase vocal resonance; and act as buffers against facial trauma.

Sinuses that become obstructed from any cause produce several troublesome symptoms. At Oasis Ear, Nose, and Throat, Dr. James OsborneDr. Bryan Smedley, and our expert team specialize in diagnosing and treating sinus problems. Treatment includes conservative options and minimally invasive surgeries like balloon sinus dilation. Here’s what you need to know about the procedure. 

Sinus conditions

Sinusitis, an inflammation of the paranasal sinuses, is one of the more common conditions ENT doctors see, affecting about 30 million adults a year. The inflammation may be caused by allergies, environmental toxins, chemical irritation, the development of nasal polyps, or a viral or bacterial infection, to name a few of the more common sources.

The problem is considered “acute” if it’s short-lived, and one of the most common causes of acute sinusitis is the common cold, triggered by any number of respiratory viruses. The infection should clear up on its own within about 7-10 days. However, if the inflammation and swelling continue for at least three months despite treatment, it’s considered chronic.

Chronic sinusitis produces a number of symptoms, including:

Also common are ear pain, a sore throat, an ache in the upper jaw and teeth, and fatigue from battling the ongoing infection.

These symptoms can be made worse by nasal polyps, which grow in the nasal passages and/or sinuses and block breathing, or a deviated nasal septum, a bend in the cartilage that divides the two nostrils. If the swelling prevents the cilia from clearing mucus, or if mucus blocks the ostium, sinusitis can develop into a bacterial infection.

Treating sinus problems

At Oasis Ear, Nose, and Throat, we use conservative treatments before offering surgery, though we specialize in minimally invasive procedures. Medications we may recommend (OTC) or prescribe include:

If these don’t work or your infections are recurrent or persistent, we may recommend sinus surgery. The procedures enlarge the openings between the inside of your nose and the sinuses, which allows air to get in and drainage to flow out. We can also remove infected sinus tissue, nasal polyps, or bone if any are contributing to the problem.

Balloon sinus dilation is a minimally invasive procedure performed on an outpatient basis. The surgeon uses a series of balloons placed at various points along the sinuses. When he inflates them, they hold open the passageway, allowing him greater visibility and access to the inside of your nose and the sinus openings.

If he sees any infected tissue or polyps blocking the passages, he inserts very thin instruments into the space and removes the blockage. Once finished, he deflates and removes the balloons.

If you’re dealing with the pain and pressure from sinusitis or breathing problems caused by blocked passages, it’s time to come into Oasis Ear, Nose, and Throat for an evaluation and treatment, which may include balloon sinus dilation. To learn more or to get started, call us at 623-207-7560, or book online with us today.

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