Breathing Obstructions Caused by Sinusitis can Require Surgery, says Denver’s Nose Doc

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Patients with breathing issues often face trouble exercising and lifestyle restrictions, and more severe problems, like sleep apnea, can increase the risk of heart attack and premature death

Surgery to remediate any of these abnormalities is like getting a new lease on life for most patients

Up to 30% of patients who report breathing problems are diagnosed with sinusitis, and many of these people find long-term relief and a new lease on life through surgery, according to The Nose Doc of Denver, Dr. Jeffrey R. Raval, MD, FACS, who is both a certified otolaryngologist (ear-nose-throat) and a specialist in facial plastic surgery and reconstructive surgery.

“In 20-30% of patients with breathing problems, the diagnoses is sinusitis—pain or pressure in the sinuses caused by the build-up of fluid,” says Dr. Raval, with offices in Cherry Creek North in Denver, CO. He adds that from obstruction, infection, inflammation, trauma, malignancy, airway obstruction to other abnormalities, breathing difficulty can be a symptom of mild to serious disorders, diseases or conditions. Called “dyspnea,” breathing difficulties can occur in any age group or population, and sometimes breathing difficulties accompany hyperventilation or an anxiety attack.

“Surgery to remediate any of these abnormalities is like getting a new lease on life for most patients,” says Dr. Raval, and American Board certified otolaryngologist and head/neck surgeon, as well as American Board certified in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery.

“Often the inability to breathe deeply through their nose compromises a patient’s competitive value as well as resulting in overall poor health due to lack of exercise, which is ever more challenging when a patient can’t breathe adequately,” he says.

Typically, an adult takes in eight breathes per minute. Blockage of the breathing tubes can result from tumors, sinusitis, severe allergic reaction, bacterial infections, foreign bodies or trauma. The degree of obstruction determines how seriously breathing is impaired.

The types of surgery performed vary by the breathing issue that is diagnosed, explains Dr. Raval who earned the title of The Nose Doc among surgical peers for his expertise in performing revision rhinoplasty surgeries.

“In the case of sinusitis, we traditionally used surgery to open the nasal passages by removing the bone in the nasal passage,” he notes. “Today, the optimum treatment is a new, less invasive procedure called a balloon sinuplasty. This revolutionary treatment is like the catheter used in heart surgery: a balloon catheter is inserted in the nasal passage and then is inflated once it reaches the fluid build-up which in turn releases drainage.”

In some cases—accidents and sometimes aging, particularly in aging women who are very thin—the lateral (outside) wall of the nose, also known as the nasal valve, can collapse. Sometimes Dr. Raval recommends a balloon sinuplasty to treat these cases.

If the patient is suffering from a deviated septum (when the wall between the nostrils that separates the two nasal passages is so crooked that it causes valid breathing problems), a septoplasty is performed. A severely deviated septum can worsen snoring and sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea can also require surgery, but usually the first course of action, says Dr. Raval, is a lifestyle change starting with a recommendation to lose weight and exercise. Obstructive sleep apnea happens more to men than women and increases with age. Obese people, especially, suffer from obstructive sleep apnea because the more fat in the neck, the narrower the airway gets, he says.

Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by the tissue in the back of the throat blocking off the airway during sleep. That causes an individual’s oxygen level to drop and carbon dioxide builds up, startling the patient awake. Dr. Raval adds that sleep apnea can be a very serious medical condition, as some sufferers have a 30% higher risk of heart attack or premature death than those unaffected, and quite often the sufferer can go years without noticing the symptoms.

If surgery is required, Dr. Raval uses a radio frequency probe to shrink the palate and even the back of the tongue in some cases. The double benefit, adds Dr. Raval, is the weight lost in the two-week recovery period when it’s too painful to eat. Most patients lose 10 to 15 pounds, inspiring continued weight loss.

Contact Dr. Raval at Raval Facial Aesthetics at 250 Cherry Creek North in Denver for an examination to remedy breathing problems. Call 303-381-3223(FACE) and visit ravalmd.com.

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Debbie Medina
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