SAN ANTONIO -- A procedure using a small balloon is offering relief for people who suffer from chronic sinustis.
Chronic sinustis is a condition affects the cavities of the nose and is usually triggered by allergies or a cold. Common symptoms include painful swelling of the face, headaches, loss of smell and a runny nose. Texan Allergy and Sinus Center located on north loop 1604 east offers a procedure called balloon sinuplasty to help relieve the condition.
Dr. Paul Fulmer performs the procedure on patients by using a small medical device that has a fiber optic wire attached at the end of it. He said the wire goes into a patient's nose to find a natural opening. A light at the end of the wire helps guide the doctor through the nose. Fulmer said once the wire is positioned correctly, a balloon on the device is inflated with fluid and it opens the blocked passageways.
"It literally moves, breaks the little thin bones that make up that opening [nose]," said Fulmer.
Fulmer said the entire process is about an hour and there's minimal complications. He said studies show the procedure is 90 percent effective.
"So, that's the beauty of this is that you've literally changed their anatomy in such that it's not something you have to redo. It's for good," said Fulmer. "People can live with this. But they're miserable. They miss tons of work. They're on antibiotics all the time. It messes with their system and by being able to do something like this in an hour, it'll change their life."
Eyewitness news spoke with Wes Conklin who got the procedure done a few months ago. Conklin said he lived in misery for years because of his sinuses. Conklin said he tried nasal sprays, other over the counter medicine and even a chiropractor to try out allergen immunotherapy, but nothing worked.
"What starts out as simple allergies, will almost always turn into a sinus infection, which would almost always settle into my lungs, then I would have a respiratory infection. At least twice a year, I was down for the county," said Conklin.
Conklin said after getting balloon sinuplasty, his symptoms have dramatically improved.
"Even right now, I can get a good, deep breath of the nose. And what I will find is that it does seem to get better and better, progressively, every week after the procedure," said Conklin.
Conklin paid about $200 for the procedure but said if he went to a hospital, the procedure would apply to his deductible and cost more than a thousand dollars.