It’s about attrition
“Many people cannot differentiate among the common cold, allergies and sinusitis.”
Dr lynne lim
Ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon
Years in practice 21
While not life-threatening, untreated sinus problems will wear down the patient in the long term.

In your area of expertise, what ailment most disrupts a person’s lifestyle?

Life-threatening conditions like cancers are devastating, but thankfully less common. I find nose allergies and sinusitis most disruptive. Those ailments can attack day and night and go unnoticed, such that many are so used to breathing badly that they are astounded when told they have a nose problem, when they seek treatment for snoring.

What causes it?

Rhinosinusitis refers to an infection (viral, bacterial or fungal) or inflammation (due to allergy or chemicals) of the nose and sinuses. Avoid smoking, use mask protection against fumes and dust, control diabetes, and get vaccinations if you have lower immunity. Treat allergies and colds early.

What are the effects?

These include fever; headache; pressure or pain in the face, ear, eye and/or teeth; nose discharge; blocked nose; and loss of smell and taste. Patients may breathe through their mouths, have bad breath, and be constantly clearing their throats. Many snore and have sleep apnea, increasing the risk of fatigue, poor memory, hypertension, diabetes, heart problems and strokes.

How is the condition treated?

At evaluation, a thin flexible fibre-optic scope is used to check if there is nose tissue swelling, discharge, polyps or a deviated nose bone. Allergy tests, nasal swabs, biopsies and radiology scans may be needed.  Sinus medications include nasal rinses, antihistamines, decongestants, steroid sprays and antibiotics. Surgery is needed for fungal infections, chronic sinusitis and anatomical causes. Nowadays, functional endoscopic sinus surgery avoids external incisions, and has CT image guidance for increased precision. Patients are discharged the next day, and continue nasal douching for up to two weeks.

What should people know about this ailment?

Many cannot differentiate among the common cold, allergies and sinusitis. Cold symptoms continue throughout the day and last seven to 10 days. Airborne allergies caused by dust mites in bedrooms are worse in the morning and night. Sinusitis symptoms are more severe, and can last for weeks to months.

For more information, visit the Lynne Lim Ear Nose Throat & Hearing Centre (Child & Adult),  #17-07 Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre, 3 Mount Elizabeth. Tel: 6737-7787 or #15-02 Farrer Park Medical Centre, 1 Farrer Park Station Road.