Balloon procedure tackles sinus and allergy problems in South Georgia

Warning: The attached video images and sound may be disturbing to some viewers.

By: Noelani Mathews
May 19, 2017

THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WCTV) -- It's that time of year where sneezing and sniffling isn't uncommon. Some in Thomasville say it's normal.

"A lot of people have that and it's the nature of the beast living in South Georgia," says Danny Dukes.

Dukes is a local produce farmer in Thomasville.

He's suffered with symptoms for nearly 30 years.

"Working on the farm, everything is dusty this time of year," says Dukes. "You can't breathe and you get all stopped up. Now, I can breathe."

Nasal spray, allergy medicine, and anything else you can find, but none of it curing the problem.

That's until Danny found himself in Dr. Joseph Berger's chair over a year ago with chronic sinusitis.

"You have drainage, headache, cough, and post nasal drip," says Dr. Berger. "We treat and treat and treat and it just doesn't get better."

That's where the balloon-like procedure comes in, offered at Dr. Berger's office in Thomasville.

"The opening swells and it's not adequate to aerate normal, so things back up in there and they become infected," says Dr. Berger.

A tiny camera mounted on the device, shows Dr. Berger working on his new patient.

The balloon inflating and reopening the sinus passage.

It's not for the squeamish.

After numbing the patient, Dr. Berger snakes the device through the nose and into the sinus pathway. He inflates the balloon to stretch it back open to it's normal state.

"A lot of them, they've felt so bad for so long that they've actually forgotten what it's like to feel normal," says Dr. Berger.

The process is just about an hour.

Patients, like Danny, are back to normal activities the next day with long-lasting results.

"You're not worried about walking outside or having to keep the nose spray closely," says Dukes. "You can breathe. Everything is free. It's just a comfort."

A fresh breath of South Georgia air, now followed by a sigh of relief.

Dr. Berger says the procedure is often covered by insurance, and is about a quarter of the price of sinus surgery done at the hospital.