Frequent or Constant Sinus Infections?

→ December 13, 2014

sinusMany people suffer from sinus symptoms such as nasal congestion, postnasal drip, headaches, and facial pressure. Some people have been treated with multiple courses of antibiotics with no long term improvement in their symptoms. In addition to antibiotics, other treatments include nasal saline sinus rinses, nasal steroid sprays, oral steroids, and antihistamines. Many times there is an underlying issue with allergies. Controlling the allergies with daily medications can help prevent infections from happening so often.

Many people have tried all the above options and continue to suffer with sinus symptoms. Those patients have additional options and would benefit from an appointment with an Ear Nose & Throat specialist. We can image the sinuses with a CT scan to look at the sinus anatomy and to judge the severity of the disease. Sometimes there are obvious problems discovered such as polyps or cysts that are obstructing the sinuses. Some people have narrow openings or abnormalities of the shape or size of the sinuses, septum, and turbinates that are leading to the infections or making it hard for the sinuses to drain and function properly. Others are found to have thick debris in their sinuses that can be caused by fungus. Fungal infections do not clear up with antibiotics and usually require surgery to remove the fungal debris.

Allergy testing is another way we can help people determine what is causing the sinus problems. In addition to medications, some people can be helped with allergy shots or allergy drops (i.e., immunotherapy).

Surgery is another tool to improve sinus function and decrease the severity and frequency of sinus infections. Surgery can straighten the septum, shrink the size of the nasal turbinates (shelf-like structures along the side of the nose that can become chronically swollen and cause blockage of airflow), and enlarge the sinus openings. This helps you breathe better and also allows the sinuses to drain easier so they do not clog up with fluid and infection. These larger openings can accommodate swelling (from viral infection or allergy) and still remain open enough to prevent bacterial infection.

Dr. Shipley

Sinus evaluation – the CT scan

→ December 4, 2013

If you have chronic sinusitis (sinus problems persistent 3 months or longer) then evaluating your problem often requires getting a CT scan of the sinuses.  Regardless of how good and experienced a doctor is – we can’t always tell what is going on inside of the sinuses by just looking in your nose.  The symptoms you are having are important in helping us figure out what is going on – but there is still some guess work going on until we “look” inside of your sinuses with a CT scan.   A CT scan is a special kind of x-ray that allows us (sinus surgeon) to get a complete view of your sinuses – from the frontal sinuses (your forehead) to the sphenoid sinuses in the middle of your head – and all the sinuses in between.

The images below show a normal and an abnormal sinus CT scan.   The normal scan shows sinuses that are all black in color – this means they are filled with air which is normal.   The abnormal scan shows sinuses filled as a grey color (look between the eyes, and on the left of the image), meaning the sinuses are filled with either swollen, inflamed tissue or with mucus that can’t drain.

Sinus surgery is often helpful in treating long-standing cases of sinus infections / sinus inflammation.

– Dr. Stephen Parsons


Normal sinus CT scan


Abnormal Sinus CT Scan