Dubai: There is hope in the form of surgery for people suffering from chronic sinusitis, a condition that lasts longer than 12 weeks and causes nasal obstruction or congestion, and pain and tenderness in the face, said specialists in the field on Sunday.

In the UAE, roughly 20 per cent of the population suffers from chronic sinusitis according to the Dubai Health Authority (DHA). The symptoms can be severe enough to impair work performance and diminish quality of life, suggests a 2012 Allergies in the Middle East (AIME) survey.

On the opening day of the 10th Middle East Update in Otolaryngology Conference and Exhibition, specialists in the Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) field said surgery is a solution for those suffering from chronic sinusitis.

Surgery is recommended for patients who do not respond well to antibiotics and/or steroid sprays, drops or implants, said Dr Rakesh Chandra, Associate Professor from US-based Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and conference speaker.

“The functional endoscopic sinus surgery or FESS removes chronically inflamed membranes or polyps that block sinus drainage using instruments and endoscopes [device with a camera mounted on a flexible tube] passed through the nostrils. Infected fluid is removed, and the natural passageways are enlarged so they drain more efficiently,” said Dr Chandra, speaking to Gulf News.

Of the benefits, he explained that the recovery is shorter, and post-operative pain and discomfort are less than with prior surgical techniques because the procedure is done without incisions.

Dr Adeel Butt, Chair at the Department of Medicine and Infectious Diseases Consultant, Shaikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC), Abu Dhabi, and conference speaker emphasised the need for correct diagnosis and to differentiate infectious from non-infectious causes of sinusitis.

Of sinusitis causes, he told Gulf News that there are several.

Dr Butt said, “The diagnosis must differentiate between infectious bacterial or viral causes. Other factors contributing to sinusitis include air pollution, smoke, chemicals [pesticides], disinfectants and household detergents as well as presence of allergies like allergic rhinitis [allergic inflammation of the nasal airways] and asthma.”

In some cases, the predisposition can be genetic like cystic fibrosis that causes thick, sticky mucus to build up within the body, he added.

Dr Hussain Al Hattawi, consultant and head of the Allergy Clinic, Immunology Unit at Dubai Hospital, told Gulf News, “Around 20 per cent of the UAE population suffers from chronic sinusitis. Allergies are often the cause.”