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Frequently Asking Questions: Chronic Sinusitis and New Treatment

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What is the Condition?

What is sinusitis?

Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinus lining caused by bacterial, viral and/or microbial infections; as well as structural issues like blockages of the sinus opening. If the sinus opening is closed, normal mucus drainage may not occur, which may lead to infection and inflammation of the sinuses.

What are the different types of sinusitis?

There are two main categories of sinusitis: acute and chronic. Sinusitis is usually preceded by a cold, allergy attack or irritation from environmental pollutants. Often, the resulting symptoms, such as nasal pressure, nasal congestion, a "runny nose," and fever, run their course in a few days. However, if symptoms persist, a bacterial infection or acute sinusitis may develop. If sinusitis occurs frequently or lasts three months or longer, it may be chronic sinusitis.

What are the symptoms of sinusitis?

Common symptoms include:

  •   Facial pain, pressure
  •   Nasal congestion or fullness
  •   Difficulty breathing through the nose
  •   Discharge of yellow or green mucus from the nose
  •   Teeth pain
  •   Loss of the sense of smell or taste
  •   Headache
  •   Fatigue
  •   Sore throat
  •   Bad breath

How is it Treated?

Medical Therapy

Sinusitis is typically treated first with medication. Treatment with antibiotics or topical nasal steroid sprays is often successful in reducing swelling, fighting infection, and relieving obstructions of the sinus opening. Inhaling steam or using nasal saline sprays or drops may also help relieve sinus discomfort. However, at least 20 percent of patients do not respond adequately to medications.5, 6, 7, 8

Conventional Sinus Surgery

Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (FESS) is often the next step toward finding sinusitis relief. Specialized instruments are placed into the nose along with a small endoscope to help the surgeon see inside the nose and nasal cavities. The procedure works by removing bone and tissue to enlarge the sinus opening and may lead to post-operative pain and bleeding that requires uncomfortable nasal packing to control. Approximately 500,000 FESS procedures are performed each year in the U.S. 9, 10, 11

Endoscopic Surgery with the Balloon Sinuplasty System

This alternative solution in endoscopic sinus surgery uses minimally invasive sinus balloon catheters to position a balloon into the blocked sinus passageway. The balloon is then inflated to gently restructure and open the sinus passageway, restoring normal sinus drainage and function often without tissue or bone removal.

What are the benefits of using Balloon Sinuplasty devices?

  •   Minimally invasive - The technology uses small, soft, flexible devices introduced entirely through the nostrils. These devices gently open blocked sinuses.
  •   Safe and effective - While use of any surgical instrument involves some risk, studies demonstrate that the Balloon Sinuplastyâ„¢ system is safe and effective in relieving sinusitis symptoms.
  •   Reduced bleeding - No tissue or bone is removed during surgery using this technology, leading to reduced bleeding.
  •   Fast recovery time - While recovery time varies with each patient, some patients have been known to return to normal activities within 24 hours.

What is the Impact of Sinusitis?

How prevalent is sinusitis?

  •   Sinusitis affects approximately 35 million people in the U.S. each year.1
  •   Sinusitis affects 17 percent of women and 10 percent of men each year.2
  •   Chronic sinusitis is more common than heart disease or asthma.2

How does sinusitis affect one's quality of life?

  •   Sinusitis takes a greater toll on quality of life than chronic back pain or congestive heart failure.3
  •   Total restricted activity days due to sinusitis are well over 73 million per year.4

What is the economic burden?

  •   Direct healthcare expenditures due to sinusitis cost over $8 billion each year.4
  •   Chronic sinusitis results annually in an estimated 18 to 22 million physician office visits.1


  1.   Benninger, M., Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2003; 129S: S1-S32.
  2.   National Health Interview Survey, 2006.
  3.   Gliklich, R., et al, J Allergy Clin Immunol 1999; 113: 104-109.
  4.   Ray, N., et al, J Allergy Clin Immunol 1999; 103: 408-414.
  5.   Hamilos, D., J Allergy Clin Immunol 2000; 106: 213-227.
  6.   Stankiewicz, J., et al, Am J Rhinol 2003; 17(3): 139-142.
  7.   Subramanian, H., et al, Am J Rhinol 2002; 16(6): 303-312.
  8.   Hessler, J., et al, Am J Rhinol 2007; 21(1): 10-18.
  9.   Millennium Research Group, USENT 07, 2006.
  10.   Medtech Insight, A600, 2002.
  11.   Medtech Insight, A566, 2005.