MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Many people suffer from chronic nasal/sinus problems. Whether it’s a constant runny nose or frequent sinus infections, it can be inconvenient and frustrating. The doctors at the WVU Medicine Sinus and Allergy Center are now offering minimally invasive approaches that can provide long-term relief from these symptoms.
Rhinitis, which includes symptoms such as a runny nose and congestion, and rhinosinusitis, which includes symptoms of rhinitis in addition to sinus infections that cause facial pressure and pain, are the most common causes.
“The nose is a very complex structure,” Hassan Ramadan, M.D., chair of WVU Medicine Otolaryngology, said. “Several things can happen to the nose that impairs its function. Nasal obstructions, for instance, can cause trouble breathing through the nose or a runny or stuffy nose.”
Treatments for these conditions are no longer limited to invasive surgeries. Minimally invasive options, such as radio-frequency turbinate reduction, nasal valve procedures, radiofrequency and cryotherapy treatment for chronic rhinitis, and balloon sinus dilation, can be performed in the doctor’s clinic and have greatly reduced recovery times and pain and do not require nasal packing as compared to more invasive approaches.
These procedures are used to correct the pathology of the nose, relieving obstructions that lead to chronic infections and allowing for better air flow. Patients can expect long-term results similar to more invasive procedures performed in an operating room.
“In many cases, patients continue to breathe better and have fewer symptoms years after these treatments,” Dr. Ramadan said. “There are instances in which the obstruction may return, and we have to repeat the procedure, but this occurs at a similar rate to more invasive surgical interventions.”
In the past, many patients were told to continue using nasal sprays and other medications because their only other option would be major surgery. Minimally invasive procedures offer these patients a different treatment path.
“I would say that we definitely have now more tools at our disposal,” Ramadan said. “If you were a patient before and we did not have an option that met your needs, come back and let us revisit your options. We may have other treatments in between: not a major surgery, and not sprays and pills that do not provide the relief you are seeking. We may have an approach that is in the middle that can improve your symptoms. We may not be able to take you off your medications completely, but maybe your medications will work a lot better.”