Dr. Ashley Wenaas discusses a range of treatment options for Sinus conditions

Do you suffer with sinus infections or other disorders? In this episode of the Texas ENT Audio Blog, Dr. Ashley Wenaas discusses a range of treatment options, as well as the technology used to arrive at a diagnosis and effectively improve quality of life. Tune in below to learn how our specialists can help you.

Shelby Stockton (00:00):
Welcome to the Texas ENT Audio Blog. I'm Shelby Stockton and today I talked with ENT specialists, Dr. Ashley Wenaas. We discussed common sinus disorders and how they're diagnosed. Dr. Wenaas explains treatment options and the ever changing new technology to help patients get relief. If you suffer from sinus issues, make sure you listen to the end, because Dr. Wenaas explains that you don't have to live your life with sinus discomfort. Dr. Wenaas, thank you so much for spending time with me today.

Dr. Ashley Wenass (00:29):
Hi, it's great to talk with you.

Shelby Stockton (00:32):
I would like to ask you, what are the most common sinus disorders that you see in your office?

Dr. Ashley Wenass (00:39):
I would say it is a lot of sinus infections. And those range from acute sinus infections that people have been dealing with for four or five days, all the way up to chronic sinus infections that people have been dealing with for years. And then everything between on that spectrum.

Shelby Stockton (01:05):
How do you diagnose these disorders?

Dr. Ashley Wenass (01:08):
Well, a lot of it really starts with talking with the patient about their symptoms and what kind of symptoms they have and when they started. And to be honest, that's probably part of it that I enjoy the most because I get to play detective a little bit. Because especially here in Houston, allergies play such a big role in sinus issues and are often this underlying inflammatory driver and trigger that leads to infections, recurrent infections, chronic infections.

Dr. Ashley Wenass (01:50):
But because here in Houston allergies are so common, people will often just feel like, "Well, it's normal for me to feel like this." And no one can really breathe through their nose or everyone constantly has drainage or isn't it normal not to be able to really smell or taste your food? And so when I ask the patient just to tell me their symptoms, sometimes people are very in tune with everything they're feeling. Some people don't realize. And so I get to ask the probing questions about, "Well can you breathe through your nose? Or when you exercise, do you have to breathe through your mouth? Or can you breathe through your nose? Or when you sleep at night, do you sleep with your mouth open?" And get to ask these little questions that give me a broader and more fine tuned look into exactly what the patient's experiencing.

Dr. Ashley Wenass (02:54):
And then after we get an idea of what their day to day experience is like, what their symptoms are like, then we get to add more objective information in. Because as much as I am good at figuring things out, based on someone's experience and history, it's not the same as having actual facts. And so we can look inside the nose with a little camera to see, are there obstructions in the nose? Are there polyps in the nose? Is there infectious drainage in the nose? And what's cool about that is I can actually show the patient, "Okay, this is what's going on. This is what the inside of your nose looks like." And then we can also do CT scans of the sinuses here in the office to tell us, well, not just what's going on inside the nose, but what's going on inside of the sinuses themselves. And then putting all of that information together, we get to get a more full, complete picture of what's going on with the sinuses, what's causing the patient's issues.

Shelby Stockton (04:06):
Okay. Once you've made a diagnosis, what are some treatment options?

Dr. Ashley Wenass (04:12):
The treatment options range. And a lot of that, again, depends on how long the patient's been dealing with the symptoms, too. We can see people that have really bad inflammation and infection trapped in the sinuses. But if it hasn't been there for very long, it will often respond really well to medication, antibiotics and nasal sprays and that sort of thing. If the issue's been going on for longer, then sometimes that infection and inflammation gets trapped inside the sinuses and the antibiotics just aren't going to make a significant difference anymore. And those are the patients that benefit from us doing sinus procedures, whether that's balloon dilations to open up the natural opening of the sinuses, trying to reset things to get the sinuses to function better on their own. To endoscopic sinus surgery, where we actually create larger and new openings to the sinuses, to clear out that infection and inflammation that's trapped inside and start from a new square one with the sinuses.

Shelby Stockton (05:37):
Is there any new technology out there that's helping patients get relief?

Dr. Ashley Wenass (05:43):
Well, the world of endoscopic sinus surgery and balloon sinuplasty is constantly evolving. And so even though those options are not new, the way that we go about it and the technology that we use is constantly changing. We're always getting new and finer tuned endoscopic equipment that allows to do those things, dilate the sinuses, open the sinuses, while creating as little disruption to the patient as possible. Those things are constantly evolving. And then really what we can do in the office is constantly evolving. It's always amazing to me how the world of local anesthesia is always evolving and how we're able to make a patient very comfortable in the office in terms of numbing up their sinuses to be able to do balloon dilations in the office with almost no discomfort to the patient. And them be able to then go back to what they're doing more quickly, because they didn't have to undergo general anesthesia.

Shelby Stockton (07:15):
That's great. Last question for you is, what would you say to that are either maybe just scared of going into doctors' offices or if they have a tendency to just tough these things out, like, "I'll be okay." What would you say to those people?

Dr. Ashley Wenass (07:28):
Well, I would say that's a really common thing that people just feel like, "Well, this is how I've been for a really long time and isn't everyone just like this?" And the bottom line is that you don't have to be like that. You don't have to deal with recurrent infections. You don't have to be on antibiotics over and over and over again all throughout the year. And you can breathe easier, sleep easier. And I think we talk about these issues as quality of life issues, meaning you're not going to die, likely, if you don't get your sinus issues addressed, if you don't get your allergies addressed. But quality of life's issues are not to be underestimated. The importance of a good night's sleep is huge just in your ability to be clearheaded, to go about your day, to make positive decisions that allow you to take care of yourself and take care of your family. And when your sinuses are obstructed, when you can't breathe, you can't sleep. That's not a small thing and you don't have to live like that.

Dr. Ashley Wenass (08:46):
And same thing with constantly being on antibiotics because you're dealing with science infection. You don't have to be like that. It's generally not normal for most adults to have more than one or so sinus infections in the course of a year. And if you're finding that you're on antibiotics a lot more than that, then probably there's something that we can do to change or alter that so you're not constantly having to deal with all this.

Shelby Stockton (09:22):
That's great advice, doctor. Thanks again so much for spending some time with us to talk about sinus disorders.

Dr. Ashley Wenass (09:27):
Oh, my pleasure. It was fun.

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