Sinusitis Overview

A familiar disease to many in South Carolina, sinusitis refers to inflammation of the sinus cavities usually as a result of bacterial infection. Sinusitis affects 37 million people each year, making it one of the most common health problems in the U.S. It is more prevalent than heart disease and asthma and has a greater impact on quality of life than chronic back pain or congestive heart failure.

When you have acute or chronic sinusitis, the mucous membranes of your nose, sinuses and throat become inflamed. Swelling obstructs the sinus openings and prevents normal mucus drainage, causing mucus and pressure to build up. Symptoms include: drainage of a thick, yellow or greenish discharge from the nose or down the back of the throat; nasal obstruction or congestion; tenderness and swelling around the eyes, cheeks, nose and forehead; and/or a reduced sense of smell and taste.

Types of Sinusitis

Depending on the duration of the symptoms, sinusitis can be classified into one of several types:

  • Acute (less than 4 weeks)
  • Subacute (4-12 weeks)
  • Chronic (more than 12 weeks)

If you experience 4 or more episodes of acute sinusitis per year, you could have Recurrent Acute Rhinosinusitis.


A Look into the Sinuses

The sinuses are hollow spaces in the skull (i.e. the frontal, ethmoid, sphenoid and maxillary) which serve to lighten the skull and give resonance to the voice. The purpose of the sinuses, which open into the nasal cavity, is to generate mucus to keep the nose from drying out during breathing and to trap unwanted materials so that they do not reach the lungs.

Each sinus has an opening that allows mucus to drain – this drainage is essential to keeping your sinuses working well and you healthy. Anything that obstructs that flow may cause a buildup of mucus and lead to a sinus infection.

Chronic Sinusitis Symptoms

Is It Allergies, a Cold or Sinusitis?

If you are like many patients, you may have misdiagnosed yourself as having allergies or a cold, when you actually have sinusitis.

Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinus lining that prevents normal mucus drainage through the nose. This blockage causes mucus to build up in the sinuses and can lead to very uncomfortable symptoms.

Sinusitis symptoms may include:

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

After listening to your history of symptoms and conducting an exam, Dr. Sterling may diagnose you with acute sinusitis, which is a temporary inflammation of the sinus lining that is caused by a bacterial infection and commonly called a sinus infection. For acute sinusitis, often saline nasal sprays, antibiotics, nasal steroid sprays, decongestants and over-the-counter pain relievers help relieve the condition.

Sinusitis Treatment Options

Most patients who suffer from an acute case of sinusitis respond well to medical treatment and return to their everyday activities within one to two weeks. However, more than 20% of patients do not get better with medication or if they do, do not stay better. When sinusitis persists over months, or when episodes occur frequently (3 or 4 times or more in a single year), that is when a specialist may be most helpful in designing an more permanent solution.

Endoscopic Sinus Surgery

Introduced into the United States in the early 1990’s, this procedure has an outstanding track record of treating chronic and recurrent acute sinusitis in the operating room setting.  This technique is done entirely through the nostrils and is an excellent choice for those patients with more severe sinus disease and significant anatomic abnormalities that cannot be addressed in the office setting. There is no packing, bruising and patients typically are back to work or school in two to three days. Dr. Sterling has successfully operated on nearly three thousand patients with this technique.

Balloon Sinuplasty

Since 2005, the Balloon Sinuplasty technology has emerged as a new complement to existing approaches or as a standalone procedure performed in the office under local anesthesia.

This technology utilizes a small, flexible, sinus balloon catheter that is placed into the nose to reach the sinuses. The sinus balloon catheter is gradually inflated to gently permanently restructure the previously blocked nasal passage, maintaining the integrity of the sinus lining and restoring normal sinus drainage and function. There is none or almost no bleeding, and many patients have been able to return to normal activities within 48 hours of an in-office procedure. Clinical research has indicated that the Balloon Sinuplasty system is a safe and effective tool in dilating blocked sinuses, resulting in relief from sinus symptoms. There are a number of advantages to this procedure.

  • It can be done entirely in the office under local anesthesia.
  • Because general anesthesia is not needed, patients with other health issues need not risk being put to sleep in an operating room.
  • It takes about 20 minutes and can be scheduled in the office at the patients’ convenience.
  • It is typically much less expensive because there is no operating room or anesthesia bill
  • It is extremely safe as no tissue is removed.


The sinuses are a series of inter-connected, hollowed spaces in the skull. Their walls are lined with mucus-secreting membranes. Small hairs sweep the mucus out of the sinuses so it can drain out through your nose. These mucus membranes may become infected or inflamed because of a cold or allergies, and can swell up and block the nasal passages so that fluid from the sinuses can’t drain. Buildup of fluid in the sinuses causes pressure and pain. Doctors call this sinusitis.

Acute sinusitis comes on quickly and then leaves. With chronic sinusitis, people have symptoms virtually all the time, and take many courses of medications such as antibiotics to treat the inflammation. Severe sinusitis may require surgical opening of the passageways with rigid steel instruments placed up through the nostril to remove bone and tissue blocking the drainage.

With the introduction of the innovative Balloon Sinuplasty technology, there is now a minimally invasive way to widen the sinus opening. Using this technology a balloon catheter is delivered to the blocked passageway, and is gently inflated, widening the opening of the passageway and thus allowing drainage and relief from the pain and pressure.

For more information about Balloon Sinuplasty visit





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2221 St. Matthews RD.

Orangeburg, SC 29118


Phone: (803) 534-3324

Fax: (803) 534-8303


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