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by Eric Christensen, MD    May 24, 2023

Allergic rhinitis, commonly known as hay fever, is a condition characterized by inflammation of the nasal passages caused by allergens such as dust mites, pollen, mold or pet dander. Sinusitis, on the other hand, is an inflammation of the sinuses, which are hollow spaces within the bones of the face connecting with the nasal passages. Both of these conditions share many common symptoms such as nasal congestion, runny nose and sneezing. In fact, there is a strong relationship between these two conditions.

Allergic rhinitis can often lead to the development of sinusitis. When a person with allergic rhinitis breathes in an allergen, such as pollen or dust mites, the nasal passages become inflamed, causing them to produce an excessive amount of mucus. The mucus collects in the sinuses, leading to blockages and trapping of bacteria. This, in turn, can lead to an infection in the sinuses, resulting in sinusitis.

When conservative treatments such as oral antihistamines, nasal steroids and antibiotics fail to alleviate the symptoms of allergic rhinitis and sinusitis, sinus surgery may be indicated. This is usually a last resort, and the decision to operate on the sinuses should always be carefully considered and taken only after non-surgical methods have been exhaustively implemented.

Endoscopic sinus surgery is a minimally invasive surgery that involves the use of a thin, lighted tube called an endoscope to access and remove blockages in the sinuses. Advancements in endoscopic sinus surgery, especially image-guided surgery, have made it a safe and effective option for most patients.

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