Breathe Easier Without Surgery

Balloon dilation cures chronic sinus infections.

Barbara Mulkey suffered from chronic sinus infections for almost two decades while living in St. Louis and then in Tampa. A move to DeBary and a new job in the education field brought her only a temporary reprieve.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Barbara is more active now that she’s had the balloon sinus dilation procedure.

“For the first five years we lived here, I taught online,” she recalls. “I was at home all the time versus being in the classroom, and suddenly the sinus issues diminished.”
Then, in 2016, Barbara returned to public schools as an eighth-grade teacher and endured two sinus infections that year. Last September, she was sickened by another infection more severe than those before it.
“It didn’t respond to antibiotics or steroids,” she shares. “I had headaches. I couldn’t hear out of one ear. My throat bothered me. I would spit stuff up and cough, and I was worn out. I felt awful.”
Some days, she couldn’t drag herself in to work. When she was at home, Barbara spent much of her time in bed or on the couch.
“I felt like I was living as half of myself or only able to do half of what I used to do,” she notes. “And I did not have the mental capacity I had before. I would forget things.”
Barbara’s general practitioner sent her for a CT scan and was out of town when the results came back. Desperate for relief, she picked up the scan and, on a coworker’s recommendation, made an appointment with Daniel L. Rothbaum, MD, at Atlantic Ear, Nose and Throat.
“As soon as he saw the CT scan, he said, We’re going to have to do a procedure. More medications are not going to work,” Barbara relates. “He gave me a choice of having the balloon sinus procedure or the regular procedure. He took the time to explain both. He was very personable, very caring and extremely knowledgeable.”
Barbara had significant sinus inflammation or sinusitis. Her sinuses were not draining properly, leading to infection.

Less Risk, Quicker Recovery

Traditional sinus surgery, performed under general anesthesia, involves removing bone and tissue to enlarge the sinus opening, clearing blockages and restoring normal drainage. Pain and scarring are the downsides.
“Most people don’t require that level of aggressive procedure to improve their sinus function,” Dr. Rothbaum informs. “Balloon sinus dilation is much easier. It is a minimally invasive way to treat the problem without the longer recovery, the greater risks and the discomfort of the more traditional sinus surgery.
“Balloon sinus dilation can make a dramatic difference in the lives of people like Barbara who have struggled with sinus problems for years,” he stresses.
During the procedure, also known as Balloon Sinuplasty, Dr. Rothbaum temporarily places a tiny, flexible balloon catheter into Barbara’s nose to reach her blocked sinuses and then inflates the balloon to enlarge her sinus openings. The balloon is then removed.
“They gave me medication so I was relaxed,” Barbara says. “They numbed the area. I didn’t feel a thing. Dr. Rothbaum talked me through the whole process.
“Afterward, I had a little bit of discomfort from time to time, but nothing major,” she adds. “I took off work for three days to relax and make sure I was feeling better.”
The results were dramatic.
“I breathe better now,” Barbara reports. “I don’t have a stuffy nose or that fullness in my head anymore. My energy level is back to one hundred percent.
“It’s a very big relief.”

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