Balloons are extremely versatile devices. You can use them to celebrate, or console, or even to fly. And, more prosaically, your otolaryngologist can use them to clear your sinuses. Balloons have been useful in performing surgery for centuries.
Sinuses are pockets of air in the bones of your face. Each pocket has an opening called an ostium. These ostia allow the mucus that is secreted by the mucosal lining of your sinuses to drain. Mucus production is a good thing. In fact, it is vital for maintaining health—the mucus keeps the nose and sinuses free of debris and bacteria. After it has taken care of clean-up, the mucus is swallowed, and provided our sinuses are functioning normally we don’t even notice. Click here for a diagram of the sinuses
When the mucous membranes become inflamed, however, they can block the ostia, preventing drainage. The mucus then builds up in the sinus cavities, causing:
- Difficulty breathing
- Tooth pain
- Sore throat
Occasional build-up is no big deal, but people living with chronic inflammation of these mucus membranes may chose to undergo surgery, in order to enlarge the ostia so that drainage can happen more efficiently.
How Balloon Sinuplasty works
Surgery used to entail using rigid metal instruments to enlarge the opening. Balloon sinuplasty, however, relies on a very small and flexible balloon to gently enlarge the opening. An otolaryngologist gently inserts the balloon up the nose and into the sinus. Then the balloon is gradually inflated, allowing the opening to slowly dilate and reshape. There is minimal bleeding with balloon sinuplasty, and most people are able to return to their regular activities quite quickly.
Is balloon sinuplasty right for you? Contact us, and we can discuss the pros and cons of this procedure. After all, breathing freely is something to celebrate.
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