A local otolaryngologist physician is an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist. If you have a problem with your head or neck, your local family physician may refer you to an otolaryngologist physician. Some of the problems a local otolaryngologist physician may treat include ear infections, hearing loss, sleep apnea, migraines, facial abnormalities, allergies, sinusitis and unusual growths. Some patients may require ENT surgery for the head or neck, while others may need medication or lifestyle changes to treat their condition.
One of the conditions an otolaryngologist physician may treat is sinus infections. Healthy sinuses are filled with air. When the tissues lining the sinuses become swollen, inflamed, blocked and filled with fluid, a sinus infection can occur. Sinus infections are very common.
Types of Sinus Infections
There are four different types of sinusitis:
• Acute sinusitis. Symptoms are similar to cold symptoms, but can last 2-4 weeks.
• Subacute sinusitis. Lasts longer than acute sinusitis (4 to 12 weeks).
• Chronic sinusitis. Your symptoms last more than 12 weeks.
• Recurrent sinusitis. You get sinus infections several times a year.
Causes of sinusitis include:
Symptoms & Treatment of Sinus Infections
It’s important to see your primary healthcare provider if you think you might have sinusitis, especially because sinus infection symptoms can be similar to those of a cold. Chronic sinusitis symptoms include:
• Runny or stuffy nose
• Green nasal discharge
• Facial tenderness or headache
Sinusitis treatment depends on the type and severity of the sinus infection. If you have bacterial sinusitis, your physician will usually prescribe antibiotics. In many cases, your local family physician will recommend you use a decongestant, saline nasal washes and over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Sinus surgery is reserved for patients who have failed maximum medical management. Currently the gold standard for treating sinuses is computer-assisted sinus surgery - called functional sinus surgery or functional endoscopic sinus surgery.
Using a head frame, the surgeon can track his or her instruments on a three-dimensional CT scan in real-time, so they can see exactly where they are in the patient's head to an accuracy of less than one millimeter. Because the surgeon is working very close to the eyes, optic nerves, brain and pituitary gland, he or she will work in a box that is an inch and a half by an inch space, spending three or four hours cleaning out the areas, flushing the sinuses, getting the disease out and getting the drainage pathways open to restore function.