Jennifer Broome from Houston Life interviews Dr. Robert Palmer from American Sinus Institute to learn how patients can find relief to symptoms of sinusitis.
Eric: This winter has just been a really, really long one.
Speaker 2: Yeah, it really has. Thanks, Eric.
Eric: You bet.
Speaker 2: You know when the seasons change, sneezing and sleepless nights can follow. But how do you know when these are symptoms of more than just allergies? We have Dr. Robert Palmer from American Sinus Institute here to explain.
And Dr. Palmer, you know, a lot of folks this time of year are having the sniffling, the sneezing, the stuffy head from allergies. But how do you know you’re going from allergies to sinusitis?
Dr. Palmer: It’s difficult to tell, but usually you’ll have a discolored discharge that will tell you that you have an infection rather than just having symptoms of allergies. But essentially, the symptoms are exactly the same. People who suffer from allergies end up with the headaches, the sneezing. They can’t breathe, and they have pressure and pain. And they benefit from surgery as well as people that have recurring sinusitis, which is actually an infection. We treat both of those.
Speaker 2: Okay. Okay, so when you continually have issues with allergies, maybe they need to come in and say, “Hey, Dr. Palmer, what’s going on up in here?”
Dr. Palmer: Exactly. In fact, these people are the ones that need to see us. I’d rather see them before they’re infected, you know? There’s a subtle difference between it, but people who have allergies are usually hit four or five times a year, and when they have it they’re miserable. They have headaches, they have a runny nose, they can’t breathe, they have pressure pain. And it’s all because they don’t ventilate their sinuses. And once we ventilate those sinuses, they feel 100% better.
Speaker 2: Well, in sinus surgery now, what you guys do is so different than it was, say, 10, even 15-20 years ago.
Dr. Palmer: Less is better. Less is better.
Speaker 2: That’s a good thing.
Dr. Palmer: I did a lot of sinus surgery. I probably did 2000 cases endoscopically. This operation is so much better. There’s less trauma, and we get a better result.
Speaker 2: Okay, so we want to see what it’s like when a patient comes through your office, so we’re going to take everybody through a little walk-through when they go to American Sinus Institute.
Jason: Hi. I’m Jason.
Speaker 2: Hi Jason. How are you?
Jason: It’s good to see you. Thanks for coming.
Speaker 2: So, Jason, if I was a regular patient coming in, what would be the first thing that would happen now that I’m in the room?
Jason: One of the nurses would come in and do a very through intake. They’d ask you about your history, all the kind of medicines that you’ve taken.
Speaker 2: Like, do you snore? Do you … All those kind of questions. Can you sleep at night? Do you have ear pressure?
Jason: Headaches, sinus pressure, drainage. These are typical for our patients. Once that’s done, we take you over and get a CAT scan here, in the other room, and it takes about five minutes to have that come up. And then I will come in and do an exam, and go over the CAT scan with you.
Speaker 2: So, at this point you’re just kind of figuring out what’s going on up in here, right?
Jason: Yeah. We want to see, what does it look like? What’s the structure? And how can we address the structure so that the sinuses function ideally. Let me peek at you.
Speaker 2: Oh, no.
Jason: Yeah. So, I’ve got a scope.
Speaker 2: But you’ve actually done this surgery?
Jason: I have done the surgery, and the surgery helped me quite a bit. It relieved my headaches. So, turn your head this way.
Speaker 2: Is everybody else a big, wide-eyed when this comes towards their face?
Jason: All right. Be very still.
Speaker 2: So, this visit and the CAT scan is kind of where you make that decision of, “No, you’re just having allergy issues.” Or, “Yeah, you’re having major sinus issues.”
Erin: The scan only takes about 20 seconds, so it’s really quick.
Speaker 2: Oh, this has now turned into a rocket ship.
Erin: Yeah, it’s really quick and your only job is just to hold really still.
Speaker 2: I can do that.
Erin: Okay, so I’m just going to shine that little laser light here on you.
Speaker 2: And Erin, this is exactly what your patients would go through?
Erin: Yes, this is exactly what they would go through. I’m going to-
Speaker 2: What are those?
Erin: These are just little wedge sponges that are just going to hold your head in position. And the next part is just the scan, which takes about 20 seconds.
Speaker 2: And this would be what you would do with a regular patient after they’ve had the CAT scan, like I just went and did. We were using your CAT scan, since you’ve had this surgery. So, kind of walk me through what we’re seeing. I can pick out where the eyes are. How many sinuses do we have?
Jason: Eight. There’s two in the cheeks, two between the eyes, and then two in the forehead-
Speaker 2: Oh, so that would be like that sinus headache that people get?
Speaker 2: That’s where those are, okay.
Jason: That’s where they’re feeling it.
Speaker 2: So, how do you know in this, how do you know that it’s inflamed?
Jason: This gray is what we’re looking for in these patients. And so if they have this kind of gray, that can be washed out and cleaned. Some folks this … all of the black is completely filled in with gray, so they’re not able to drain at all and they’re miserable.
Speaker 2: So how quickly after you had it done, how quickly did you notice the difference of, “Wow. This is what it’s supposed to feel like breathing.”
Jason: For me it was instant.
Speaker 2: But it’s like a super quick … I mean, you’re not put under for very long, right?
Jason: It’s a 30-minute surgery, 30-minute prep time. 30-minute procedure and you’re here about an hour hanging around afterwards.
Speaker 2: Just to make sure.
Jason: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Speaker 2: Okay, so Dr. Palmer, I’m going to be that typical patient go, “Do you leave that balloon up in there?”
Dr. Palmer: We do not leave that balloon in here. Let me show you something here. This is the little catheter that has the balloon on it, and you can see how small it is.
Speaker 2: Well, that’s smaller than the thing that Jason stuck up my nose.
Dr. Palmer: Well, that was the scope. That was the scope. This is just the balloon, and that goes into the sinus. See that, from here to here, that will go into the sinus. And then we take a syringe and we blow it up. It goes up to about six millimeters.
Speaker 2: Which is small.
Dr. Palmer: Which is small. The sinuses are only about one to two millimeters. And we dilate it for 10 seconds and then we take it out.
Speaker 2: So of course, Dr. Palmer, you know I had to be that one to ask, “Are you going to leave that balloon up in the nose?” But I was so surprised with Jason. He said he instantly, right after the surgery, could breathe.
Dr. Palmer: Exactly.
Speaker 2: He could feel the nose breathe, not the mouth breathing he’d done for years.
Dr. Palmer: Exactly. Yes, the balloon is taken out. It’s not left in your nose.
Speaker 2: You’ve got to ask.
Dr. Palmer: And the beauty about what we do, every time we operate on somebody for the sinuses, we shrink the mucosa of the nose. Because if you can’t breathe, those sinuses can get blocked and then you breathe through your mouth. You get a dry mouth and you snore. So, when we … the Honrubia technique, every time we address the turbinates and shrink them with coblation. It’s a radio frequency device, and it shrinks it so now you can breathe and your sinuses will stay open.
Speaker 2: And the surgery itself is very, very short. And recovery time seems really short.
Dr. Palmer: Yes, 15 minutes is the shortest. Sometimes it takes me 30 minutes. A tough case would take 45. And the beauty is we don’t pack the nose so when you leave, your nose is open. You can breathe. And within three or four days, you’re feeling 100% better.
Speaker 2: Dr. Palmer, you are changing lives every day with folks, making them be able to breathe. Now for more information, to schedule your appointment with American Sinus Institute, you can call 713 BALLOON. That works out to be 713-225-5666. Or visit americansinus.com. Thank you again, Dr. Palmer, for coming in.
Dr. Palmer: Thank you. I appreciate it.
Speaker 2: Coming up next, the hassle-free-