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Some sinus infections may be treatable with medical therapy and/or lifestyle changes, while others may require surgery. Most short-term sinus infections can be treated medically. Even people with long-term or chronic sinus infections can find relief through medication. But if none of these treatments works for you, sinus surgery may be the best way to ease your symptoms.

Two common types of sinus surgery are functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS) and balloon sinus surgery (BSS). The type of sinus surgery your doctor recommends depends on your condition. In general, the goal of sinus surgery is to flush out infected material, open blocked passages, and keep enough healthy tissue intact so that your nose and sinuses can function normally.

Medical treatments are typically tried first. Your doctor will suggest surgery only after all other treatments have failed to ease your symptoms.

In a survey of 400 sinus sufferers, 90% said their sinus problem negatively affected their quality of life.1

Diagram depicting the 90% of sinus sufferers who report that their sinus problem negatively affects their quality of life.

Medical Treatment

Acute sinus infections may have the same symptoms as a cold and many cases go away on their own. Your doctor may suggest that you take a common decongestant to ease your symptoms.

If your sinus infection lingers for longer than a week, it could be caused by bacteria. In this case, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Most cases of acute bacterial sinusitis clear up after a course of antibiotics. Chronic sinus infections can also be treated medically by oral, nasal, or injected antibiotics.


Your doctor may suggest balloon sinus surgery (BSS) to open your sinus passages and relieve your symptoms. This type of minimally invasive surgery can often be performed in your doctor's office.2

Your doctor will use a special tool to insert a small balloon into your nose. Once secured in the right spot, your doctor will inflate it to open and drain your blocked sinus pathways. When the passageway is open, the balloon is deflated and removed.

Balloon sinus surgery has been shown to improve:

  • Overall sinusitis symptoms3
  • Headaches4
  • Work/school time missed3
  • Frequency of doctor/nurse visits and acute infections3


In an image-guided BSS procedure, your doctor looks at a navigation screen to see a map of your sinuses and the location of the balloon in real time. Like GPS on your car or phone, your doctor can see, guide, and place the balloon at the precise point to inflate and unblock your sinuses during this minimally-invasive in-office BSS.5,6


Functional endoscopic sinus surgery is a common surgical method to treat chronic sinus infections. In a FESS procedure, the surgeon uses a magnifying endoscope inserted through the nostrils to see and remove affected tissue and bone.

FESS procedures:

  • Ethmoidectomy — which helps clear the sinuses located between your eyes and the bridge of your nose
  • Maxillary antrostomy — which helps the sinuses behind your cheekbones drain more effectively
  • Powered septoplasty with turbinoplasty — which helps clear up breathing difficulties caused by a deviated or crooked nasal septum and enlarged turbinates in your nose


When asked in a survey why they didn't look into surgery, some people said that they just cope with and "learned to live with" symptoms like headache and facial pain.4

The good news is, there are other treatment options for sinusitis. Talk with your doctor about finding one that's right for you. It could be your first step toward feeling better.


Data on File. Medtronic, Inc.


Sikand A. Introduction to an office-based sinus surgery technique. Operative Techniques Otolaryngol. 2011;22:249-252.


Chandra RK, Kern RC, Cutler JL, et al. REMODEL larger cohort with long-term outcomes and meta-analysis of standalone balloon dilation studies. Laryngoscope. 2016;126(1):44-50.


Marzetti A, Tedaldi M, Passali FM. The role of balloon sinuplasty in the treatment of sinus headache. Otolaryngol Polska. 2014;68:15-19.


American Rhinologic Society. Image-guided surgery. Accessed September 16, 2015.


Silvers SL. Practical techniques in office-based balloon sinus dilation. Operative Techniques Otolaryngol. 2014; 25:206-212.

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.