Acute sinusitis differs from chronic sinusitis in the duration of symptoms. Generally patients who have persistent sinus symptoms for 12 weeks or more are considered to have chronic sinusitis. Patients who have frequent episodes of recurrent sinusitis during which symptoms may last less than 3 weeks are categorized as having recurrent acute sinusitis. Typically, this is defined as having 4 or more episodes of sinus infection over 12 month period.
Causes of recurrent acute rhinosinusitis include structural abnormalities that prevent adequate sinus drainage and ventilation. Often, allergies or other causes of inflammation can result in obstruction of sinus drainage. These contributory causes resulted in an obstruction or closure of the natural drainage outlet of the sinuses. This, in turn, results in a sinus infection. The sinus infection may respond to treatment with antibiotics as well as anti-inflammatory medication. These re-establish the drainage of the sinuses and eradicates the infection. However, as the underlying causes of sinus infection and disease persistent, the patient may be susceptible to recurring episodes of sinus infection.
TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR RECURRENT SINUSITIS
Treating the underlying causes of recurring sinusitis is the first step in preventing infections. Consequently, allergy medications may be beneficial. The use of saline nasal irrigation on a regular basis can also be helpful in preventing sinus infections. When these maneuvers are inadequate, in office balloon sinus dilation of the natural openings of the sinuses is usually very helpful in preventing recurrent infection.
Recently, Dr. Sikand and his staff were involved in a multi-center study to evaluate the benefit of balloon sinus dilation in treating recurrent sinusitis. This demonstrated significant reduction in the frequency of infections in patients who underwent this procedure in the office setting.