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YOUR HEALTH: Solving severe sinus problems

A small stent could be life-changing for some patients

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. — Stuffy nose, headaches, coughing, facial and ear pain are just some of the symptoms for chronic sinusitis. 

Allergy shots and medications may work for some, but for patients whose condition is resistant, surgery may be an option. 

Now a newly FDA-approved tool is reducing the need for multiple surgeries and bringing patients much needed relief.

"I would just have these times where I couldn't breathe. It was very hard to just live everyday life," said Carol Temkin.

Chronic sinusitis can be caused by many factors including blocked airways from asthma or allergies or conditions such as cystic fibrosis; bacterial, viral, or fungal infections; abnormal nose structures, like a deviated septum; polyps; or a weak immune system.  

Carol tried allergy shots, over-the-counter medication, nasal sprays, and even antibiotics.

"So pretty much, I was doing everything that I could do to make it better, but it wasn't getting better."

Ear, nose, and throat doctor Ryan Vaughn believed surgery could be an option for Temkin.

"The PROPEL stent is able to be placed after the sinus has been opened and what it does is actually sits inside the opening, putting pressure outward in a gentle fashion and also releasing an anti-inflammatory medication," explained Dr. Ryan Vaughn, Exhale Sinus and Facial Pain Center Director.

The PROPEL stent is available at the Iowa ENT Center in West Des Moines, Peoria ENT, and Exhale Sinus in Schaumberg. 

Preventing the sinus from scarring and meaning more surgery later on. 

Temkin had surgery and had the PROPEL stent added in and is feeling much better now.

"As my husband says, 'you're not snoring.' I can breathe through my nose, so it's pretty amazing."

Diagnosing sinusitis

Chronic sinusitis is diagnosed when symptoms of a sinus infection have continued for more than 12 weeks. 

In some cases, your doctor may use an endoscope to see the inside of your nose and sinuses.

Symptoms of chronic sinusitis can include: 

  • tenderness or pressure in the face
  • post-nasal drip
  • nasal discharge (thick yellow or green discharge from nose) or a stuffy nose
  • toothache, ear pain and/or headache
  • cough; tiredness; ear pain
  • loss of the senses of taste and smell
  • halitosis (bad breath)

Stent dissolves on its own

The PROPEL stent stays inside the sinus for about 45 days and dissolves on its own. 

The devices work by propping open the sinuses and releasing the steroid directly into the sinus lining after surgery and then dissolve. 

The new delivery system is expected to shorten procedure times while improving ease of use for the physician.

Dr. Vaughn says once sinus surgery is performed and the propel stent is placed in, patients will start to see relief in a matter of days.

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.