Prevea Health

Helping Sinus Sufferers Breathe Clearly: Ron’s Story

chronic sinusitisIf you’ve ever had a sinus infection, you know how debilitating they can be. Congestion, headaches, fatigue and loss of taste and smell are just a few of the symptoms. For many, this happens a lot.

Chronic sinusitis affects millions

Ron Shull used to be one of 31 million people across the country suffering from chronic sinusitis each year. His sinusitis, paired with a long list of allergies prevented him from doing many of the things he loves – playing basketball, riding his bike and most importantly, playing with his 5-year-old daughter, Ava. 

“I can handle the pain, but the low energy levels are the worst part of the whole thing, especially when trying to keep up with a young child,” said Ron, who is 50 and lives in Sheboygan. 

Each spring and fall, Ron would battle ragweed, pollen, dust mite, cat dander and other allergies. The allergies triggered polyps to grow in his sinuses, causing headaches, pressure around his eyes and head and breathing troubles. In the winter, the sinus infections would hit.  

“There were times I couldn’t breathe out of my nose for a month,” said Ron. 

After 20 years of allergy and sinusitis symptoms, along with two failed sinus surgeries, Ron was in a desperate search for relief.

Journey to find relief 

Ron’s journey to find relief began with a referral to Dr. Edward Smith, the Sheboygan area’s only physician specializing in both ENT and Allergy at the Prevea Sheboygan Health Center. 

In addition to placing Ron on aggressive immune therapy in which Ron received shots for his allergies, Dr. Smith recommended a leading-edge procedure to combat Ron’s sinus condition.

The procedure involves the Propel Steroid-Releasing Implant. The small, spring-like implant is placed into the patient’s sinus to prop the sinus open, then gradually release an advanced steroid with anti-inflammatory properties to the sinus lining. 

The implant is placed into the sinus using a small, lighted telescope that goes in through the patient’s nostrils, allowing the surgeon to see inside the nose and sinuses as the patient is under general anesthesia. 

Over time, the implant dissolves into the body, eliminating the need for an additional surgery to remove it. 
“The Propel implant has been a real game-changer in how we treat chronic sinus disease,” said Dr. Smith. “We are providing a safer, more effective way to deliver medications right to the source of the problem without giving patients potentially harmful medications. Soon, we will be able to implant these stents right in the office without patients having to undergo general anesthesia.”

Dr. Smith is the only physician in the Sheboygan area to perform this procedure, and was just one of a few surgeons across the state of Wisconsin to launch the clinical use of the Propel Steroid-Releasing Implant in May 2012. He performed the procedure on Ron in March 2014.

Quality of life improved

Before receiving the Propel Steroid-Releasing Implant, Ron would experience as many as 4 sinus infections each year. Since his surgery, he’s only had one sinus infection, which he says was significantly less severe than what he used to experience.  Ron’s allergy symptoms are also much less severe since receiving the Propel Steroid-Releasing Implant. 

“I have more energy, I can breathe and no longer suffer from headaches,” said Ron.  
That means spending more time doing the things he loves – camping with his daughter and being active in sports. 

“So many people just try to suffer through the pain and take over-the-counter medications,” said Ron. This procedure has truly improved the quality of my life.” 

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