Sinus Problems

Our nose is a gatekeeper. It protects us from breathing in harmful dirt, debris, and allergens. Unfortunately, our nose and sinuses can also be a source of misery, with sinus headaches, facial pressure, congestion, and post-nasal drip. Our ear, nose and throat specialists have years of experience in effectively diagnosing and treating nose and sinus problems.

Sinus Headache

Patients often refer to pain or pressure in the face, cheeks or between the eyes as a sinus headache. They assume that these headaches are related to sinusitis, or a sinus infection. However, it’s possible that many of these patients are actually experiencing a migraine headache. Both sinusitis and migraine symptoms can include nasal congestion, runny nose and eye redness and tearing. If there is facial pain or pressure without cloudy or colored nasal discharge, you probably do not have a sinus infection.

Post-Nasal Drip

We all have nasal mucus. Each the glands in your nose create mucus that cleans your nasal lining and helps prevent infection. Unfortunately, post-nasal drip occurs when you feel mucus dripping from the back of your nose and gathering in your throat. Causes range from bacterial infection and allergies to gastroesophageal reflux and certain medications.


Sinusitis is defined as an infection or inflammation of the sinuses that include nasal blockage and discolored discharge that lasts more than 10 days. The inflammation often starts out as a cold that leads to a virus or bacteria infecting the sinuses. The lining of the sinuses swell and mucus fills the nose and sinus cavities. Acute sinusitis and chronic sinusitis are different and require different treatments.

Acute Sinusitis

When the following symptoms occur for less than four weeks:

  • Cloudy or color nose drainage
  • Stuffy nose
  • Facial pain and pressure
  • No improvement within 10 days of getting sick

Most acute sinusitis is caused by a virus and should not be treated with antibiotics. The majority of people get better naturally and use ibuprofen and nasal sprays to help lessen their symptoms.

Chronic Sinusitis

When two or more of the following symptoms occur for at least 12 weeks:

  • Stuffy nose
  • Facial pain and pressure
  • Thick nasal drainage
  • Loss of smell

A head CT may be needed to diagnose chronic sinusitis. Treatment usually addresses inflammation and may include salt water irrigation and nasal steroid spray. If medication is not effective, surgery may be recommended. Balloon sinuplasty is a minimally invasive option that uses a balloon to make the sinus openings larger. For some patients, a structural problem in the nose, such as a deviated septum, may be the root cause of sinus blockage and inflammation. For these patients, a septoplasty procedure could help provide sinus relief.


Balloon Sinuplasty

The otolaryngologists of Asheville Ear, Nose & Throat first performed balloon sinuplasty in 2007. We consider this procedure to be one of many options at our disposal to treat patients with chronic sinusitis. Balloon sinuplasty can be very effective for appropriate patients, but it is not a “cure all” for everyone who has ongoing sinus infections. After a thorough exam, and CT scans if needed, our doctors will discuss the treatment options they feel will provide the best possibility of success.

About the Procedure

This minimally invasive procedure uses a small balloon and a flexible catheter to open up sinus blockages. The surgeon navigates the catheter through the nose to the area of the blockage and inflates the balloon to expand the walls of the sinus cavity. Then the balloon is deflated and removed. No incisions are made and no bone or tissue is removed.

Watch our balloon sinuplasty video