Sufferers of regular sinus headaches and congestion can now find relief with a less-invasive, office-based procedure that sometimes requires just hours to recover.

Sinusitis is the medical term for a sinus infection, a malady that plagues an estimated 12.3 percent of Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Of those people, 11.7 million people will end up visiting a doctor for chronic sinusitis.

In Lafayette, Dr. Sam Davis uses balloon technology, the same type used for heart patients, to provide a permanent solution for patients who spend months each year in discomfort.

Long-time sufferers might even experience pain in the upper teeth, as their roots extend upwards into certain sinus cavities, Davis said.

The more common signs of a sinus infection include difficulty breathing through the nose, and facial pain and pressure.

Patients should seek medical treatment if a sinus infection lasts more than a week, particularly if it’s accompanied by discolored drainage or fever, he said.

“If they need medical treatment three or four times a year, or if they haven’t gotten better after a couple months,” Davis said, “then they probably need more involved care.”

The sinus balloon procedure is fairly simple and relies upon a tiny balloon that’s fed through a narrow tunnel in the nose and inflated.

Its dilation will cause remodeling of the lining and widen the tunnel, much like unblocking a clogged heart artery.

The procedure is repeated for the three sinuses on each side of the nose, and normally takes up about 35 to 45 minutes.

Some patients feel tired, congested and run down until the follow-up visit one week after the procedure.

Many patients see Davis on a Friday and pretty reliably get back to a normal work routine Monday.

“That works pretty well with people’s schedules,” he said.

Several recent studies have found the procedure is about 98 percent effective. Davis said it does not need to be performed a second time.

A viral or bacterial infection can be the culprit of congested sinuses, though some people are more prone than others to experiencing problems.

By avoiding triggers such as allergies and environmental causes, in the home or at work, certain patients can avoid sinus infections.

Other patients need corrections to their internal nasal anatomy, which can only be helped through the sinus balloon procedure or a traditional sinus surgery in a hospital.

Traditional surgery involves removing tissue to widen the whole tunnel and requires a longer recovery time of up to several weeks.

Patients require general anesthesia for traditional surgery, whereas the balloon procedure only requires pain medication, topical agents and local anesthesia.

Patients report switching over to Ibuprofen or Tylenol from stronger pain relief just a day after the balloon procedure, Davis said.

He has been performing the procedure in-office for the past year and a half, but started using it in a hospital setting about nine years ago, a year after it became available.

A referral is not needed for the procedure, unless required by an insurance company.

Davis has practiced medicine for 15 years and works within the Unity Healthcare system; he is accepting new patients.

His office is located at 3930 Mezzanine Drive, Suite D and can be contacted via telephone at (765) 807-2784.