Interview: Allergies & Chronic Sinusitis Part 1

As you may have noticed (unless you’re one of those lucky people who live away from pollen and allergens LOL), a lot of people are sniffling and sneezing at this time of year…and it’s not due to having a cold.

Allergy sufferers are becoming more visible and some suffer more than most. I’m lucky, mine are mild, but I know for some, this can have a serious affect on their day-to-day lives and further treatment than over-the-counter medicines are needed. That’s why I was eager to chat with Dr. AllanVescan from Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital about a new procedure he is utilizing in chronic sinusitis treatments. And you can also see more here from a recent interview on CTV.

1. What started your interest in the field of allergies and chronic sinusitis?

Chronic sinusitis and allergies are very common conditions.  Having the ability to potentially make a significant impact in my patients’ quality of life through innovative surgical procedures, as well as diagnostic and medical management, was an amazing opportunity for me to pursue.

 2. Are you seeing a surge in allergy sufferers and what demographic do you see most affected?

Allergies are becoming more prevalent every year.  We are seeing more and more patients with allergic rhinitis and chronic sinusitis. My practice is primarily adults and I have not seen any specific demographic that is more susceptible than another.

3. What are the symptoms of chronic sinusitis and when should someone seek a doctor’s advice on it?

Many patients misdiagnose themselves as having allergies or a cold, when they actually have sinusitis.

Sinusitis symptoms may include:

  • Facial pain
  • Tenderness and swelling around the eyes, cheeks, nose and forehead
  • Sinus pressure or congestion
  • Difficulty breathing through the nose
  • Loss of the sense of smell or taste
  • Sinus headache
  • Yellow or green mucus from the nose
  • Teeth pain
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat from nasal discharge
  • Bad breath

Sinusitis is often acute, but if symptoms last longer than 8-12 weeks it could be chronic. While medication may help some Canadians relieve their symptoms, it offers no relief for approximately 60 per cent of chronic sinusitis sufferers.

If symptoms do not resolve with medication, individuals should see a doctor for proper diagnosis. A primary care doctor or Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist can help. If you have chronic sinusitis and you don’t respond to medication there are some procedures that you may be a candidate for. One of these procedures is called Balloon Sinuplasty (BSP).

4.  Your balloonsinuplasty procedure makes such logical sense for relief of pressure. How long do the effects of the procedure last? Are there any side-effects?

Balloon Sinuplasty provides long-term relief from sinus symptoms and significantly improves quality of life.

The procedure is less invasive than conventional sinus surgery, with minimal bleeding and post-operative pain. Unlike traditional sinus surgery, Balloon Sinuplastydoes not include removal of bone or tissue from the nose and allows patients to return to normal activities (including work) quickly.

5.  Can you explain the process of your procedure for my readers?

Balloon Sinuplasty is a short procedure that uses innovative technology and is performed at an outpatient surgical centre as opposed to in a hospital. In selected cases it can be done under local anesthetic.

A catheter-based balloon is guided into one or several sinuses and the balloon is dilated to widen the sinus cavity and allow for better sinus drainage and function. Depending on the patient and number of treated sinuses, the procedure time ranges from ten to 45 minutes.

6. I see that this is a fairly new procedure, how accessible is it for patients?

Chronic sinusitis affects approximately five per cent of Canadians. Approximately 60 per cent of those chronic sinusitis sufferers don’t get relief with medication. For these patients, a surgical procedure may be recommended.

Patients with chronic sinusitis who are candidates for surgery have the option to wait for traditional sinus surgery in the hospital, or to have Balloon Sinuplasty which can be done at a private surgical centre. The procedure is not funded by OHIP, but may be reimbursed by some private insurance plans.

For more information, please visit www.MySinus.ca.

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