CHICAGO (WLS) -- An estimated 31 million Americans suffer from sinusitis, a condition that causes headaches, congestion, sore throat and fatigue. Until now patients only had two treatment options: harsh medications or major surgery. Now there's a new solution.
Andrea Leighton loves staying fit, and prefers to exercise outdoors. But for 15 years, symptoms of sinusitis put a damper on her active lifestyle.
"Basically, I stuck cold ice packs on my head for an entire day and spent the day in bed," Leighton says.
Until now, patients like Leighton were treated with steroids, antibiotics, or major surgery. Dr. Jerome Hester is offering his patients something new.
"It's an opportunity to treat all kinds of patients at different levels of the disease," Hester says.
The Vent-Os device is only the size of a grain of rice, but when it's implanted in the sinus, it uses a method known as osmosis to suck up fluids and open the blocked sinus passage.
"It expands the opening to the sinus to a size that we know is able to provide relief of symptoms for the long-term," Hester explains.
The capsule is inserted at the doctor's office for an hour and is then removed. Studies show 93 percent of patients still had visibly clear sinuses one year after their treatment.
Leighton hasn't had any sinus headaches since she received the treatment.
"It took an hour and a half, and I really didn't feel any pain," she says.
Now she can literally "smell the roses", without worrying about her sinuses.
The Vent-Os device is FDA cleared. Patients typically need just topical anesthesia. Doctors say it's ideal for those whose symptoms are not severe enough for major surgery but do not want to suffer from the side effects of long-term antibiotic and steroid use.
New device offers breakthrough sinusitis treatment