Health Check: Fighting chronic sinusitis
Chris Sarkinen has taught in the Robbinsdale School District for 14 years. For 13 of those years, Sarkinen has had to deal with prolonged sinus inflammation, also known as chronic sinusitis.

"Oftentimes my sinuses would peak during the fall and hay fever season, and things just wouldn't clear up," said Sarkinen.

Doctors say chronic sinusitis can last for months, making life painful for those who suffer from it due to the various symptoms.

"Nasal blockage or obstruction, facial pressure or headaches, pain, drainage from the nose, either out the front or down the back," said Dr. Brad Johnson, of the Oakdale Ear, Nose & Throat Clinic in Maple Grove. "Sometimes it will affect your ability to smell."

Treating chronic sinusitis can involve antihistamines or antibiotics, but those treatments didn't work for Sarkinen.

"They would help for a time, and as soon as I would go off the antibiotics, the sinus infection would come back," Sarkinen said. "And Dr. Johnson recommended that we take another course of action."

Last winter, Sarkinen opted to get sinus surgery, involving a relatively new, steroid releasing implant, called PROPEL.

"[PROPEL] is a much more effective way of putting the steroid where you want it and keeping it where you want it," Dr. Johnson said.

During surgery, doctors would put the PROPEL implant in the ethmoid sinus, located between the eyes. It then expands to prop open the sinus and gradually releases an anti-inflammatory medicine directly to the sinus lining.

"It is definitely a game-changer," Dr. Johnson said. "And a tool, especially during surgery, to keep those openings open, instead of having them scarring back down and undoing what we've just done with the procedure."

While Dr. Johnson calls it a game-changer, for Sarkinen, it's been a life-changer.

"I would say I haven't really thought about my sinuses in months," Sarkinen said.

For more information on chronic sinusitis, treatment options, and PROPEL, you can go to http://www.mysinusitis.com/.

Delane Cleveland

Dec. 29, 2015


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