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YOUR HEALTH: Dealing with sinus illnesses differently

A new treatment option offers much-needed relief for people with chronic sinus problems.

ST. LOUIS, Missouri – More than 30 million adults in the U.S. struggle with chronic sinusitis: stuffy nose, congestion, swelling, and facial pain.

Jim Dryden is pretty healthy, but when he comes down with even a mild virus, watch out.

"When I get a cold, for instance, it would last for probably five or six weeks."

Simple colds lead to flare-ups of sinusitis.

"Oftentimes, they're prescribed multiple rounds of antibiotics, which have their own costs and side effects." explained Dr. Jay Piccirillo, an otolaryngologist at Washington University in St. Louis.

Dr. Piccirillo is testing a way to deliver the steroid budesonide deep into the nasal cavity using nasal lavage, a method you might know as a neti pot.

Budesonide is a common anti-inflammatory nasal spray.

Jim mixes the steroid in his nasal rinse every day.

"The lavage actually delivers the medicine to areas of the nose that we don't think the medicine can get to by just using the spray," said Dr. Piccirillo.

His study shows an extra 20% reduction in symptoms.

"We think the addition of the steroid medicine to the lavage is an alternative to antibiotics and, in fact, it's probably even more effective because at the end, probably most of chronic rhinosinusitis is an inflammation problem, not an infection problem," he added.

For Jim Dryden, it means he's back at work.

"It has been very helpful.

Dr. Piccirillo said both budesonide and the use of nasal lavage are common and widely available.   The new part is simply the delivery system.

He added the combined saline rinse with budesonide is available right now to patients who are interested.

But he suggests patients talk to their doctor about obtaining budesonide in a powder or liquid form to add to a saltwater nasal rinse.

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.