More Americans suffer from sinusitis than diabetes, asthma, or coronary heart disease. Sinusitis affects 37 million Americans each year, making it one of the most common health problems. With sinusitis, the cavities of the sinuses become inflamed and swollen and prevent normal mucus drainage, causing mucus and pressure to build up. The symptoms of sinus problems can vary widely depending on the type and severity of each patient’s condition, but often significantly affect a patient’s quality of life. Common symptoms include:
- Facial pain and pressure
- Mucous discharge
- Nasal obstruction
- Changes or loss in sense of smell and taste
Sinusitis that lasts longer than 12 weeks is known as chronic sinusitis. It is estimated that up to 60 percent of chronic sinusitis sufferers are not successfully treated with medication. Patients who do not respond well to medications become candidates for sinus surgery.
There are several different types of sinus surgery, most of which can be performed through minimally invasive techniques that require no incisions and no hospital stay. Some of the most commonly performed procedures include functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS), image-guided surgery, and Balloon Sinuplasty.
Most sinus and nasal surgeries are performed on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia. Patients may experience mild bruising, swelling, and discomfort after surgery, but are usually able to recover quickly with no lasting side effects. Dr. Lee will decide which procedure is best for you after a thorough evaluation of your condition.
What is Fungal Sinusitis?
Different types of fungi, such as yeasts and molds, are present in the air we breathe. Studies show that these fungi are likewise present in our nasal cavities. People with healthy immune systems do not react to normal levels of fungal presence. However, if the immune system is weakened, the fungi may advantage and attack. After all, the moist, dark nature of our sinus cavities creates the perfect environment for fungus to grow and cause fungal sinusitis.
How To Test for Fungal Sinus Infection and How Is It Treated
To diagnose if an infection is fungal, your ENT will need to perform a complete medical exam, review all relevant medical history, examine a tissue specimen under a microscope, and may also order a CT scan or MRI. There are three types of fungal sinusitis:
- Mycetoma Fungal Sinusitis – This type of fungal sinusitis often occurs in patients with chronic sinusitis and nasal polyps. The existing inflammation and nasal obstructions make it difficult for mucus to exit the sinuses which allows dead cells to become trapped creating what is known as saprophytic fungus. This can cause the existing inflammation and nasal polyps to increase leading to immense suffering with added breathing troubles. Medication will have little to no effect on treating mycetoma fungal sinusitis. Therefore, endoscopic sinus surgery is typically the treatment avenue of choice. Most patients experience excellent, long-lasting results.
- Allergic Fungal Sinusitis – If a patient is determined via an allergy test to be allergic to a fungus, they may be at risk of developing allergic fungal sinusitis. Allergic fungal sinusitis sufferers may experience nasal polyps, thick mucus, and asthma. Notwithstanding treatment, which usually involves surgical removal and clearing, it is common to suffer from allergic fungal sinusitis multiple times. For pain and symptom management, patients will often be prescribed a medical regimen including the use of anti-inflammatory drugs, immunotherapy, and/or antihistamines.
- Invasive Fungal Sinusitis – This rare type of fungal sinusitis attacks living tissue and is typically only seen in immunocompromised patients, such as those suffering from advanced cancer, poorly controlled diabetes, or AIDS. Tissue death from blood clots occurs with this type of fungal sinusitis and can even invade the bony cavities of the brain and eyeballs. Invasive fungal sinusitis must be treated through a combination of medical therapy and aggressive surgery. Repeated surgeries and strong anti-fungal medications may be needed to improve the chances of a patient’s survival.