There's a new procedure growing in popularity that could help many suffering from allergies breath easier. NY1's Erin Billups filed the following report.
Fighting fires is not a problem for veteran FDNY firefighter Carlos Toro. Sinusitus, however, was a battle he wasn't prepared for.
"The pressure that I'm feeling behind my eye feels like as if I'm being punched from the inside out and it was just terrible. Loss of balance, even sometimes blurred vision," he says.
NYU Langone Medical Center ear, nose and throat doctor Kamram Jafri found that like many sinus and allergy sufferers, the opening of Toro's sinuses were too narrow.
"It was a relief when the doctor said your CAT scans came back and said this is what you have, and I was like, is that all? I don't have a crayon that I lost in the third grade in there or something?" says Toro.
"When you look at a sinus opening it can be very narrow to begin with, but overtime with infections or allergies those openings can narrow down," says Dr. Jafri.
If there's severe scar tissue or bone overgrowth surgery may be necessary. But for cases like Toro's, where there's no such obstruction, a simple in-office procedure called sinuplasty is possible, with local anesthesia.
A balloon is woven through the nose to the sinus opening.
"With a little camera you place the balloon right where the sinus opening is narrowed, put the balloon in there, open it and it expands it all out," explains Dr. Jafri.
The procedure gently breaks tiny bones in the sinus, permanently widening the opening.
Previously, only antibiotics or surgery were used to expand the cavity. But research shows sinuplasty is just as effective for most people with less time, recovery and cost.
"Sinuses are just like plumbing where if you look at the pipes, you look at the sink and you find where the problem spot is you can then focus in specifically on the problem spot as opposed to trying to redo the whole set up," says Dr. Jafri.
"Not painful, but just the instant opening of it when he removed it, I was like, there's airflow. Oh, okay, I haven't experienced that for a while," says Toro.
It's still early but Toro says he is already feeling better.
"I don't have that pressure behind the eye socket, it seems to just not be there. So hopefully that continues," he says.