Ear Nose & Throat

Sinusitis – Treatment Options

Living a healthy lifestyle with adequate rest, exercise, nutrition, and proper hand washing are the mainstays of decreasing the chances of a sinus infection. However, sinus infections can still occur in even the healthiest person. There are numerous ways to treat a sinus infection. Read on to learn more about these sinusitis treatment options.

Medical Treatments

The majority of sinus infections are treated medically, with very few requiring surgical intervention. Medical therapies include:

  • Saline nasal sprays
  • Decongestants
  • Nasal steroid sprays
  • Antibiotics

If the infection persists after these medications, a sinus culture is often taken to find out more about which bacteria may be responsible for the infection. A sinus culture is taken in the office using a swab that is smaller than that used for throat culture, and is associated with minimal discomfort. The results of the culture are often available in 72 hours. Nasal endoscopy with or without debridement or cleaning out of the sinuses may be helpful as well.

A CT scan of the sinus is done if there are persisting or recurring sinus infections, and even with just one sinus infection if the symptoms are unilateral (only involving one side of the face). The scan is very low dose radiation (less than plain X-rays), takes just a few minutes; no injections are needed, and it can be done in our office.

Surgery for Sinusitis

If medical therapy fails or there are complications of a sinus infection, then surgery is indicated. Prior to surgery a CT scan of the sinuses must be obtained, as it is the road map for the surgeon. The CT scan provides valuable information about the individual patient’s anatomy and which sinuses need to be cleaned out. The surgery is most often done under general anesthesia at an outpatient surgical center but may need to be done at a hospital if there are other medical problems or sleep apnea.

The recovery time for this surgery is 1-2 weeks. You can expect bloody nasal drainage for up to a week after surgery, as well as facial pressure and pain.