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Ear, Nose and Throat

Frequently Asked Questions

When is a visit to an Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialist necessary?

A visit to an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist may be necessary when an acute infection has failed to adequately respond to two or more courses of antibiotics, when symptoms worsen during treatment, or for patients with chronic symptoms.

A specialist will do a thorough examination with special attention to problems like a deviated nasal septum, polyps or other conditions, like allergies, that would make you prone to persistent sinus symptoms. The doctor may use an endoscope (a thin lighted telescope) to better view the internal structures of the nose. Depending on your situation, other diagnostic procedures, such as x-rays, CT scans, and allergy testing may be needed.

When is surgery required?

Surgery is indicated in cases of persistent acute sinusitis, recurrent acute sinusitis, and chronic sinusitis that have failed to respond to appropriate medical therapy, including decongestants, nasal steroids, prolonged courses of antibiotics and oral steroids. Antihistamines are also used when there is an underlying allergic component.

Surgical treatment is used to promote drainage of the sinuses. The natural drainage path of the sinuses is re-established by the removal of swollen membranes, polyps and infected secretions. Baystate's minimally invasive sinus surgery capabilities have reached a higher level of precision through a new image-guided navigation system. With this system, we can perform a more accurate surgical technique for patients with extensive sinus disease, and our patients report fewer complications and a quicker recovery.

How to Treat Nasal Secretions?

The best initial treatment is to promote drainage of nasal secretions. This can be done with the use of nasal saline spray, topical decongestants (use no more than 3 days), and oral decongestants. Antibiotics may be prescribed by your physician if acute bacterial sinusitis is suspected.

How do I know if I have a sinus infection?

Acute sinusitis typically occurs after a cold. Symptoms include facial pain/pressure, nasal obstruction, thick green or yellow nasal discharge, decreased sense of smell and nighttime cough (particularly in children). You may also have a fever, dental pain, bad breath, and fatigue. Acute bacterial sinusitis might be present when common cold symptoms (nasal congestion, clear nasal discharge and facial pressure) worsen after five days, last more than 10 days or seem more severe than a typical viral infection.

Chronic sinusitis symptoms include nasal congestion, facial pressure, nasal discharge, and nasal obstruction/blockage that last for more than 12 weeks. Low grade fever, bad breath, headache and fatigue may also be present.

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