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Solving sinus problems with surgery

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Imagine only being able to breathe through one side of your nose as you try to fall asleep or take a daily run. Colette Blasko knows the feeling. She suffered from chronic sinusitis. She tried everything to clear her sinuses, but when nothing worked, she turned to an ear, nose and throat specialist at Virtua to find a solution.

Solving sinus problems
The nasal cavity and sinuses act as the body's air filter. They are lined with tiny hairs and mucus that trap irritants and germs. When the sinuses and nasal tissue become irritated, they swell and block the movement of mucus.

"Blockages can be caused by things like allergies, colds, nasal polyps or a structural problem, such as a deviated septum," says Samir Shah, MD, FACS, Virtua otolaryngologist.

Blasko's sinus problems were caused by a blockage that completely closed off one of her sinuses.

"Antibiotics can clear up the infection. But if the fluid has nowhere to go, the blocked sinus will just get infected over and over again. In Colette's case, surgery was the best option to get relief," says Dr. Shah.

Sinus surgery is a short, outpatient procedure in which the surgeon uses an endoscope - a tube-like instrument equipped with a tiny camera - to view the inside of the nose and sinuses. "Using the endoscope, I can see the blockage, remove the swollen tissue and drain the sinus," says Dr. Shah.

He adds: "The major advantage is that there is no incision, no bruising and no visible scar."

Easy breathing
A week later, Blasko was back at work. She says the recovery was easier than she expected. She feels great and hasn't had a sinus infection since the surgery. An avid runner, Blasko was anxious to lace up her sneakers again.

"When I went for my first run, it was wonderful," says Blasko. "I couldn't believe how much better I was able to breathe. I'm running better, and I am glad I got the procedure done."