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Sinusitis and nasal polyps

Sinusitis is infection or inflammation of the nasal sinuses, which are the air-filled pockets in the facial bones. It can be acute, chronic or recurrent. Patients usually have a number of symptoms including nasal congestion or nasal discharge, and possibly also facial pressure/pain and a decreased sense of smell. Examination of their nose will often find either nasal polyps or discharge/swelling of the nasal lining obstructing the nose.

Acute sinusitis is often due to a viral infection (like the common cold) and treatment is directed at symptomatic relief. This may mean the use of pain relief, nasal saline washes and short courses of decongestant (though decongestant nasal sprays should generally not be used for more than 3 days). If the acute infection persists, steroid nasal sprays and oral antibiotics may also be required. Uncommonly, sinus infections may spread to involve the bones and tissues near to the sinuses. This requires an urgent review by an ENT specialist.

Chronic sinusitis is when the infection has persisted for more than 3 months. Chronic sinusitis may require a combination of medical and surgical treatment to bring the problem under control. Medical therapy generally includes nasal saline washes, topical nasal steroid spray and occasionally oral steroids when there are nasal polyps present. Sinus surgery aims to improve the drainage of the sinuses and remove any polyps or infected material. By opening up the sinuses, topical nasal washes and sprays are better able to reach the inflamed sinuses. The surgery is done under telescopic control up the nose, so there are generally no external cuts to the face made. A CT scan of the sinuses is always required prior to conducting sinus surgery so as to plan out exactly what surgery is required.

Dr Hodge can discuss your own individual circumstances and conduct a comprehensive nasal examination. She can organise scans as required as well as formulating and prescribing an appropriate treatment plan.