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Office: 847-367-5770

When Every Breath You Take is a Chore: Dealing with Chronic Sinus Issues


Chronic Rhino-Sinusitis can feel as painful as it sounds. Also known as CRS, it’s a condition that may start out feeling like a common cold before turning much worse.

CRS may begin with a runny nose sparked by nasal congestion before inflamed sinuses lead to facial pain, headaches, losing sense of smell, snoring and even bad breath. Since it feels like you caught a cold at first, sufferers may rely on normal remedies such as nose drops or nasal sprays for treatment. But when those don’t seem to do the trick and you end up suffering for several weeks, it could be time to see an ENT specialist.

“When we are healthy, our sinuses are filled with air,” said Dr. Benjamin C. Johnson, M.D., an otolaryngologist with Lake County ENT/Head & Neck Specialists in Libertyville. “But when inflammation in the nose lining causes sinus openings to become blocked, the sinuses fill with mucus which gets infected by bacteria. Once this cycle starts, it could become a chronic condition that requires more than over-the-counter medicines or prescription antibiotics.”

Most patients only require a prescription or other medical therapy to treat CRS, but others enduring symptoms for an extended period of time may have to undergo what’s called endoscopic sinus surgery. In that procedure, tiny telescopes are used to look into the nose.  The natural openings are found and made larger.  This prevents the openings from swelling shut from allergies or viral infections.

One Patient’s Story

“I have suffered from chronic sinusitis since an early age and pretty much all my life,” said Glenn Miller, a patient of Dr. Johnson and area resident who had endured CRS for more than 30 years. Miller said that after his initial visit, Dr. Johnson started him on a course of treatment featuring antibiotics, Prednisone and daily nasal rinses. But after about 30 days, he said his CRS returned with a vengeance.

“Our only alternative was surgery,” added Miller. He underwent the procedure in May and now says things are much better. “The surgery worked remarkably well.  Now I am able to breathe through my nose consistently and the infections are much less frequent.”

Advanced Treatment

Newer medical technology has made endoscopic sinus surgery less invasive and more effective than previous procedures. Also, new dissolvable nasal packing is used after sinus surgery.  This is can just be gently suctioned out as it dissolves which is much less painful than removing solid packs.

“Because early stages of CRS in adults and children mirror the common cold, many patients will probably start out by taking the usual cold medications and putting up with it for a while,” added Dr. Johnson.  “But after several weeks go by and nothing seems to be working, that’s when it may be time to see a specialist who can accurately diagnose a chronic condition and prescribe treatment for infection that leads to a quicker recovery and clearer days ahead.”

To learn more on how ENTs can help patients of all ages and about Lake County ENT/Head & Neck Specialists in Libertyville, please visit www.lakecountyent.com or call 847-367-5770.

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