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Health: New Help For Millions Of People Who Suffer With Chronic Sinus Infections

By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- New help for millions of people who suffer with chronic sinus infections.   Imagine feeling like you constantly have a cold or trouble breathing. People with sinusitis usually depend on medications. There's surgery for severe cases and now a new way to make that more successful.

Mary Ann Licwinko loves her horses and winter adventures with her family, but they made her miserable, she says, "I was always getting a sinus infection."  She was among 30 million Americans with chronic sinusitis, marked by congestion that causes pain and interferes with everything from smelling and eating to sleep.  "With an infection in your body all the time it just wore me down," Mary Ann explained.

When nothing else worked, Mary Ann turned to nose and sinus specialist Dr. Alan Berger, who's using a new surgical treatment. Dr. Berger, an ENT says, "This is the newest and best in the business, there's no question this is an advance that we were looking for."

It's an implant called Propel that delivers anti-inflammatory medication directly into the sinus lining. Dr. Berger says, "This is an added bonus and has worked fabulously well to prevent the recurrence and help us heal the patients faster and more effectively."

The implant is placed during surgery to remove inflamed tissue,  the medicated mesh prevents it from growing back.  Mary Ann says, "I think it's a wonderful invention. I sleep better, I can smell everything, and taste my food."   Mary Ann, who's a nurse anesthetist, says the Propel implant has given her back her life.  She says, "It's a dramatic change. It truly is."

Dr. Berger says an important advantage with the implant is that medication is targeted, instead of taking pills which can affect the entire system. It also reduced the need for future surgeries.


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