The ear nose and throat or ent area is sensitive and especially susceptible to allergies and infections. While they can often be mistaken for each other, allergies and infections like sinusitis have very different causes and treatment. Sinusitis is an infection that affects millions of people every year. It can be dangerous if the infection spreads from the sinus cavities to the brain. Sinus infections can be treated with antibiotics, though in chronic cases surgery or other procedures may be used.
What are sinus infections?
Sinusitis is one of the most common health problems in the U.S., affecting 37 million people every year. The sinus cavities are located around the nose and eyes. When these are inflamed by bacterial infections, sinusitis is the result. It can be painful, with symptoms like headache, runny nose and congestion.
Sinus infections that last a long time are defined as acute or chronic. Acute sinus infections last from three to eight weeks. A chronic sinus infection is one that lasts longer than eight weeks. These can be dangerous, since the ear nose and throat area is highly sensitive. They can also lead to complications, such as spreading the infection to the brain. Allergies and asthma have been linked to chronic sinusitis.
How are sinus infections treated?
Sinus CT scans are used by doctors to diagnose the problem. This involves identifying the kind of bacteria responsible for the infection, which will determine the type of antibiotics to be used for treatment. Doctors may also recommend the use of nasal sprays and decongestants and antihistamines to provide relief from the symptoms while the antibiotics tackle the infection.Surgery may be used in cases of chronic infections, which happens in about 20% of all cases.
Balloon sinuplasty is a new and less invasive technique used to treat chronic sinusitis. The patient is put under local anesthetic while a balloon is used to dilate the sinus cavities. This avoids the risk of surgery in the sensitive ear nose and throat area. It is suitable for people who cannot be put under general anesthesia due to their age or health issues. While this is a new technique, as many as 95% of people who have undergone balloon sinuplasty find it effective in relieving the symptoms of sinus infections.
The sensitive ear nose and throat area is especially prone to allergies and infections. Sinusitis is one of the most common health problems in the U.S. and may take a chronic form. Sinus infections can be treated with antibiotics, though in some cases surgery or new procedures like balloon sinuplasty may be recommended.