Everyone knows the feeling — you’re going about your daily business when you get a tickle in your throat and your nose starts running. Next, it’s full-on congestion and pressure. While these symptoms may signal just a simple head cold, if they persist, it could mean something more concerning like sinusitis, an inflammation of the sensitive tissues that line your sinuses.
“Normally, your sinus passages are open and filled with air, but when you have sinusitis, they become inflamed and fluid builds up,” says Dr. Jastin Antisdel of SLUCare Otolaryngology West County. The most common symptoms, especially in people with chronic sinusitis, are congestion, pain, pressure, nasal discharge and decreased senses of taste and smell; some patients also experience fatigue. “If your chronic sinusitis isn’t treated, you may continue to feel bad for quite a while, and that can affect your productivity and enjoyment of life,” he says.
I’m able to work out and enjoy myself again. Dr. Antisdel and the SLUCare team gave me my life back.”SLUCare patient Mary Knyff
SLUCare patient Mary Knyff is no stranger to such problems. The Maryland Heights resident went to see Antisdel after two sinus surgeries elsewhere left her with little relief. “I began having issues several years ago,” she recalls. “My congestion was so bad that I couldn’t breathe through my nose, and my symptoms got progressively worse.” Antisdel performed outpatient surgery to reopen her sinuses and return her breathing to normal. “I have pictures of what the tissue looked like before and after,” Knyff says. “It was pretty alarming.” She says her recovery period was easy, and now she simply uses daily nasal rinses and over-the-counter medication as needed. “I’m able to work out and enjoy myself again,” she says. “Dr. Antisdel and the SLUCare team gave me my life back. He is a progressive thinker who always figures out ways to make things better for his patients.”
Antisdel says many people use the terms ‘sinusitis’ and ‘sinus infection’ interchangeably, but they’re not the same. “A sinus infection tends to be acute and temporary, but you can have sinusitis for weeks or months,” he says. “It’s more of an inflammatory process, though you can get an infection on top of it.” Sinusitis is not spread from person to person; it’s influenced by your immune system, allergies, anatomy and genetics. “If you are prone to sinusitis, your children are more likely to get it,” Antisdel explains.
The main thing distinguishing sinusitis from other upper respiratory illnesses is how long symptoms last. “Usually, a simple cold goes on for three or four days,” he notes. “But if you feel bad longer than a week or so, and you have pain, pressure and discolored nasal discharge, you should see a doctor.” He adds that people with allergies can be at greater risk for sinusitis because of underlying inflammation. SLUCare doctors can provide allergy testing and treatment to bring relief and minimize further problems, he says.
Whatever the patient’s needs, SLUCare physicians are uniquely equipped to design a treatment plan using the latest in sinus therapy. “Patients deserve tailored solutions, and that’s what we provide,” Antisdel says. “We have the expertise to return them to a better quality of life.”
SLUCare Physician Group offers complete care and treatment for patients with sinus and allergy problems. SLUCare Otolaryngology West County is located at 555 N. New Ballas Road in Creve Coeur. For more information, call 314-977-5110 or visit slucare.edu/ent.
By Julia M. Johnson