Introduction - Reasons not to delay sinus surgery
Sinusitis is an inflammation of the tissue padding the sinuses that causes congestion. This inflammation can arise due to:
- Infections caused by bacteria, fungi or viruses
- Polyps or small growths on the lining of the sinuses
- Structural abnormalities like a deviated nasal septum
Sinuses are four paired air pockets or hollow cavities. They are located within the bones between the eyes, behind the cheekbones, and in the forehead. The sinuses are connected by narrow channels.
The sinuses carry out the function of producing mucus that drains out of the nostrils. This drainage aids in keeping the nose moist and clean. The mucus also helps in protecting the nose against dust, allergens and pollutants.
A healthy sinus is usually filled with air. But when the sinuses get filled with fluids, viruses or bacteria infect them and begin to multiply. This condition is also termed as rhinosinusitis. The nasal passages remain swollen if sinus tissue is inflamed.
This article talks about 10 reasons not to delay sinus surgery.
Most sinusitis infections go away on their own, or with the help of antibiotics if caused by a bacterial infection. Saline sprays, topical nasal steroids, and over the counter medicines often act as a pain reliever. But there are exceptions.
Depending on the cause of sinusitis, the need for a sinus surgery is determined. Occasionally, if one’s chronic sinusitis or acute sinusitis does not get cured with medications, then a surgery is performed to:
- Clear the sinuses
- Repair a deviated septum
- Remove polyps
A surgery can remove nasal blockages and enlarge sinus passages to make breathing easier.
One may suffer from pain and discomfort until the blockage starts to clear up. In rare situations, untreated sinusitis can be life threatening, as it causes complications like:
- Decreased or complete loss of the sense of smell
- Breathing difficulties
- Laryngitis (infection of the voice box)
- Dacryocystitis (infection of the tear sac)
- Orbital cellulitis/abscess (infection of the eye socket)
- Cavernous sinus thrombosis
- Subdural abscess
- Frontal bone osteomyelitis (infection of the bone)
- Brain abscess
10 Reasons not to delay sinus surgery
1. Worsening sinusitis
The duration of the symptoms of sinusitis generally depends on whether the cause of it is viral or bacterial. The longer the duration, the higher the chances of worsening sinusitis. In the majority of cases, the symptoms of sinusitis start to ease after about 10 days. Usually one to two episodes of sinus infections a year is considered as normal. But more than four require immediate medical attention. One’s body reacts to the infection by triggering the sinus lining to swell, which in turn blocks the nasal channels that drain the sinuses. This leads to mucus and pus filling up the nose and sinus cavities.
2. Bad surgical results
The pus formation inside the sinuses usually leads to inflammation. This inflammation can induce structural changes within the mucosa membrane. The mucosa membrane is basically the skin lining the nostrils and sinuses. Not only this, the bony partitions in one’s nose, which separates the sinuses also tend to get thickened. This structural change poses a grave challenge during the sinus surgery. The more the mucosal membrane has undergone change, the more difficult it becomes to restore its functionalities during a surgery.
3. Ear problems
The sinuses produce mucus and pus, which gets drained from the front of the nose to the back of the nose and then into the throat. There are ducts known as eustachian tubes behind the nose which transfer air from the back of the nose into the ears. This is the only passage through which the middle ear gets ventilation. When the pus passes over these eustachian tubes, they tend to swell up. This can cut down the ventilation of the middle ear. Not only that, the bacteria in the pus may also travel to the middle ear through the eustachian tube, leading to repeated ear infections.
4. Throat problems
When the pus gets drained from the back of the nose into the throat, it can cause inflammation. The pus also tends to irritate the throat, giving rise to recurrent sore throat. One suffering with recurrent throat infections, constantly keeps on clearing his/ her throat. Besides this, pus triggers change in voice also termed hoarseness. The pus can even circulate over one’s vocal cords causing swelling of the vocal cords or vocal folds. In the beginning, this condition may seem as a temporary change in voice. But with time, nodules, polyps or cysts can form over the vocal cords. This may lead to a permanent change in the voice and would require surgery.
5. Asthma starts and worsens
Nose acts as a filter, protecting one’s body from allergens, dust particles and pollutants. Besides this it conditions and moistens the air one breathes in. By carrying out these duties, the nose protects one’s lungs. Due to nose block and sinusitis, when one needs to breathe through the mouth, the functions of the nose get disrupted. This puts lots of pressure on one’s lungs. The researchers have concluded that there is a high chance of asthma in patients suffering from sinusitis. Not only that patients already suffering from asthma may experience their condition deteriorating.
6. Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea
One suffering with sinusitis is forced to breathe through the mouth due to nasal blockage. Opening the mouth to breathe in itself causes a snoring sound. With repeated snoring, there is a loss of elasticity of the muscles and the soft tissue in the back of the throat. Snoring not only affects the snorer’s quality of life but also causes trouble for others around him/her. Snoring is accompanied by another medical condition known as obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea causes the oxygen level in one’s body to fall, which is very unhealthy.
7. Eye complications
One may develop orbital cellulitis which is an infection of the tissue surrounding the eyes. The nose and the ear are separated by a very thin cartilage known as lamina papyracea. Due to this cartilage, nose and sinus infections can travel into the eye. When this happens, one can develop eyelid swelling. One’s eye seems to pop out. This condition may cause severe pain in the eye. If left untreated, it can lead to loss of vision. One with weak immunity may experience worse cases of it.
8. Brain complications
The nose is in close proximity to the brain and is separated by a thin bone named the cribriform plate. The infection travels through this bone to the brain and can cause serious complications like meningitis or abscess. One may experience severe headaches, paralysis of certain parts of the body and even death.
9. Antibiotic resistance
Untreated sinusitis can lead to increased episodes of cold. This may cause one to take more and more antibiotics. But antibiotics can turn to be harmful for one, if used on a regular basis. Regular usage of antibiotics gives rise to complications like:
- It affects one’s health
- One may develop antibiotic resistance
On developing antibiotic resistance, basic antibiotics will stop working on one, leading him/her to shift to higher antibiotics.
10. Lifestyle issues
One suffering with nose block on a regular basis fails to have a quality sleep. He/she constantly needs to turn their body to either right or left, as the nose gets alternatively blocked. Experiencing severe headaches throughout the day with postnasal discharge, which causes one to repeat things. Situations like this are quite embarrassing. Researchers point out that sinusitis patients are more likely to suffer from depression, which gradually affects their family, work or study life. One of the crucial reasons not to delay sinus surgery.
The above mentioned reasons can arise if sinusitis is left untreated and can continue for months on end. The prime explanation to seek surgery for sinusitis is to live a healthy life with symptoms either controlled or eliminated. Sinus surgery will reduce sinus inflammation, make drainage easier and eradicate any infection.
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