Sinus infections, also called rhinosinusitis, are pretty common, affecting about 35 million people in the United States yearly. They can stem from several different causes, and for the most part, they go away on their own in about 7-10 days. Stubborn bacterial infections may need a course of antibiotics, but once the medication has done its job, the infection is gone for good.
Chronic sinusitis is a different story. These treatment-resistant infections keep returning to the tune of 4-10 times per year.
Robert A. Guida, MD, our double-board certified plastic and rhinoplasty surgeon in Staten Island and New York, New York, explains when and why chronic sinus infections may require sinus surgery.
Sinuses are air-filled cavities throughout your body. You have four pairs of sinuses in your skull connected to your nose. These passages are lined with membranes that produce mucus, which flows through the sinuses and cleans them out.
If your sinuses become inflamed due to bacteria, viruses, fungi, or allergies, the mucus gets blocked and stagnates, allowing infection to set in.
Viral sinusitis produces clear mucus, while bacterial sinusitis produces thick mucus tinged yellow or green. Both types of acute infections resolve on their own in about a week, but chronic sinusitis hangs on for 2-3 weeks despite treatments and never seems to go away completely.
Why you may need surgery for chronic sinus infections
It’s rare, but serious complications can develop from chronic sinusitis.
Your hollow sinuses have bony walls that normally prevent fluids and pathogens from traveling beyond the confines of the pathways. However, in some cases, bacteria spread to the tiny blood vessels that run between the sinuses, the eyes, and the brain. When this occurs, you may experience:
- A severe headache
- Yellow drainage from the nose
- Swollen, red eye
- Pain in the eye
Sinus infections that spread to the eyes or the brain are potentially life-threatening conditions, and you must see Dr. Guida as soon as possible. A CT scan allows him to identify the scope of the infection and may indicate the need for surgery.
Chronic sinusitis increases your risk for these serious complications, but even if the infection stays contained in the sinuses, it can damage the lining and soft tissues, making it probable you’ll have sinus infections for life if you don’t get surgery.
What to expect from sinus surgery
Dr. Guida is one of the few surgeons to offer state-of-the-art image-guided sinus surgery technology. Owning this equipment allows him to perform your sinus surgery with unparalleled precision and accuracy.
During the procedure, the endoscopic camera guides him and his instruments as he carefully removes damaged and preserves healthy tissue. Although you’ll be under anesthesia, the dose is light, so you’ll have a smoother recovery with less nausea and drowsiness.
The best part is that Dr. Guida doesn’t pack your nose full of gauze after your sinus surgery, allowing you to heal more comfortably.
Call us at either office, or schedule an appointment using our online book tool to find out if sinus surgery can resolve your chronic sinus infections.