If you are having trouble breathing on a regular basis, don’t assume it’s just allergies.
One in seven people suffer from chronic sinusitis, a condition that is caused by inflation and the swelling of the sinuses. This can make is difficult to breathe, hard to sleep and result in facial pain and headaches.
"A lot of my patients who come in here aren’t sure that they even had a problem," said Dr. Farhad Sigari, a Los Angeles-based ear, nose and throat specialist.
The problem can be so severe that it requires surgery to be fixed. One common procedure is called a balloon sinuplasty. The doctor uses a small inflatable balloon to force open the sinuses, which can sometimes resolve the problem but doesn’t always work as planned.
"In the past, surgeons have struggled with how to maintain the quality and the health of the sinuses after the procedure," Sigari said. "Often there’s a lot of scarring that can occur due to the chronic inflammation and clots and not being able to keep the sinuses passages clean after the surgery."
To reduce those risks, Sigari is using a new device called Propel, a dissolvable implant that he inserts into the patient’s sinuses right after the surgery.
Once inside, the mesh springs open and pushes itself against the sinus walls, keeping the nasal passages open during the healing process. At the same time, the implant delivers a dose of steroids to the tissue in the nose, which can reduce inflammation and scarring during recovery.
"The beauty of it is that it stays in the nose. It does not really go in your system so it has a really low chance of causing any systemic side effects that people worry about with steroids," Sigari said.
The implant dissolves completely in three to four weeks. and the patient never feels the device. It also eliminates the need to pack the nose with gauze or other material after the surgery.
"It’s not for every patient that needs a sinus procedure, but for the patients that qualify, it is wonderful and it continues to help them move along get to the point where they can feel normal like everybody else," Sigari said.
Dr. Bruce's advice: Don’t assume your breathing problems are the result of allergies. Chronic sinusitis can be treated with medications and in some cases surgery. The problem can seriously impact your life and it will not go away without treatment. See a specialist if your suffering. A CT scan can determine if your sinuses are impacted and need more aggressive treatment.