Nasal congestion, nasal blockages, facial pain, and pressure—these are all symptoms that arise when sinuses go rogue. Just like the rest of the body, these hollow cavities within the skull can also fall victim to a variety of conditions and problems. The most common sinus problems include:
Acute sinusitis (also known as a sinus infection)
Unfortunately, there are countless people around the world dealing with these problems, and these chronic sinus problems have even been linked to a higher rate of depression. This is why it’s so important to have an otolaryngologist by your side that can help you get to the bottom of your symptoms and improve how your sinuses feel and function.
Millions of Americans deal with acute sinus infections each year. While they can be a nuisance, they usually don’t cause much harm and will often just run their course without treatment. In the meantime, you can ease your symptoms by applying warm facial compresses, taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, staying hydrated and using nasal sprays, if necessary. Symptoms of acute sinusitis usually go away within one month.
Unfortunately, there are some people who deal with chronic sinusitis, in which symptoms last more than three months and don’t seem to respond to at-home care. When this happens it’s important that you seek medical care from a qualified ENT doctor who can provide you with more aggressive options for handling the infection.
In the past, the only treatment option for severe or chronic sinus infections was t surgery; however, now ENT doctors offer a minimally invasive treatment known as balloon sinuplasty, which is quick and easy to perform, doesn’t require any incisions or bone removal, and boasts a very fast recovery period. Balloon sinuplasty can be a great alternative to traditional sinus surgery.
A lot of people have a deviated septum but might not even realize it. If it isn’t giving you any problems then it’s not something to worry about; however, if you are dealing with severe or chronic nasal congestion, particularly on one side, this could definitely be alerting you to the fact that you have a deviated septum. Those with a deviated septum are also more likely to develop nosebleeds or recurring sinus infections. Surgery is often required to repair the septum.
Allergies are another common issue that people deal with, particularly during certain times of the year. If you find yourself fighting back sneezing and congestion rather frequently then you could be allergic to pollen, pet dander, or dust mites. Other allergy symptoms include:
Runny or stuffy nose
There are a variety of medications and lifestyle modifications that can keep your allergies in check. It’s important that you seek the care of an ENT specialist, as untreated allergy symptoms can often get worse.
Do you find that certain times of the year it’s difficult to go outdoors without developing watery itchy eyes or sneezing your head off? Does coming in contact with your friends’ pets leave you dealing with red itchy welts on your skin and a runny nose? If you said “yes” to these questions, you could very well be dealing with allergies.
While there isn’t a cure for allergies, there are many ways to treat this issue. If you aren’t finding relief through over-the-counter antihistamines, nasal sprays, and other allergy medications, it’s time to turn to an otolaryngologist for help. It’s important that you don’t just ignore your allergy symptoms, as they can often get worse if left untreated.
First and foremost, it’s important to figure out what is causing your allergy symptoms to flare-up. Everything from pollen, mold dust, dust mites, dander, and mildew could be causing your symptoms. The sooner you and your ENT doctor are able to get to the root of your flare-ups the easier it will be to treat your allergies.
While an otolaryngologist may choose to prescribe medication to help you better manage your symptoms, there are also a variety of lifestyle modifications you can incorporate into your daily routine to reduce flare-ups.
For starters, it’s important to reduce how often you come in contact with the offending allergen. This may require you to close your windows during the day, vacuum the carpets and furniture a few times a week, bathe your trusty pet regularly, use an air purifier with a HEPA filter in your bedroom, or place a protective covering over your mattress.
Even though some people may find relief from commercial allergy products, those dealing with persistent or moderate-to-severe allergies may require a more specific and stronger medication. There are a variety of prescription nasal sprays, eye drops, and other antihistamines that can reduce congestion, eye redness and itching, and other allergy complaints. Of course, if these lifestyle changes and medications aren’t enough to get your symptoms under control then your allergy specialist may discuss the pros and cons of getting allergy shots.
Don’t let allergies get the better of you. There are ways to get your allergies under control so they don’t control you. Don’t fight your allergy alone; turn to an ENT specialist for help.
Do you feel tired most of the time? An allergy may be to blame. Although sneezing and watery eyes are among the most well-known allergy symptoms, they're by no means the only indication that you may have an allergy. Understanding common symptoms and causes can help you determine if your problems are be caused by allergies.
What causes allergies?
Your body perceives allergens as dangerous substances, even if they're as seemingly harmless as pollen or dust. Your immune system leaps into protective mode and releases antibodies designed to protect you from the effects of the allergen. Unfortunately, the release of the antibodies triggers sneezing and other allergy symptoms.
In many cases, people assume that their symptoms can't be caused by allergies because they've never been allergic to anything in the past. Allergies can develop at any point in your life and tend to occur only after repeated exposure to an allergen.
Allergies are often triggered by:
- Fungal Spores
- Dust or Dust Mites
- Animal Dander
- Animal Dander
- Certain Foods
What are common symptoms of allergies?
If you have allergies, you may notice one or more of these symptoms:
- Runny Nose
- Red, Itchy or Watery Eyes
- Chest Tightness
- Dark Circles Under Your Eyes
How Can I Tell If It's Allergies?
If you've never had allergies before, it's easy to confuse allergy symptoms with cold symptoms. Unlike allergies, colds clear up in about 10 days. If your symptoms linger and don't improve, you may actually be suffering from allergies. Pay attention to when symptoms occur. Are they worse after you've spent the day outdoors or during the spring or fall? You may have seasonal allergies. If you're allergic to dust and mold, you may experience more intense symptoms during the winter when you spend more time indoors.
Dark circles under your eyes may not be caused by lack of sleep, but by allergies. Exposure to allergens can cause the blood vessels under your eyes to swell, which makes the area look darker than usual. Keeping a journal of your symptoms and when they appear can help you determine if you have allergies.
It's not always easy to tell if your symptoms are caused by allergies. A visit to your ear, nose and throat doctor can help you narrow down the cause of your symptoms and obtain appropriate treatment if you do happen to have allergies.
Breathing problems can quickly turn into a scary situation. However, your ear, nose and throat specialist can help you get to the bottom of your breathing problems to help you find relief and avoid further complications. Diagnosis and treatment of these issues depend on pinpointing the underlying cause of the problems and developing an effective treatment plan.
Do I have a breathing problem?
Breathing issues can stem from various sources which often cause similar symptoms. You may have a breathing problem if you experience one or more of the following:
- labored breathing
- shortness of breath
- discomfort while breathing
- flaring nostrils
- gray/pale complexion
If you think you have a breathing difficulty, you should see your ear, nose and throat doctor as soon as possible for a diagnosis. If your breathing difficulty shows up alongside a fever, severe coughing, difficulty laying down or waking up at night unable to breathe, you should seek medical attention immediately.
Common Causes of Breathing Problems
Your breathing problems may originate from one or more of the following conditions:
- Allergies: Allergies occur due to your body’s misinterpretation of outside elements like pet dander, pollen, mold or grass as an attack. Symptoms include sneezing, wheezing, coughing and itchy, watery eyes.
- Deviated septum: A deviated septum can be present from birth or present itself due to an injury. A deviated septum occurs when the wall of tissue between your nostrils becomes severely off-center and causes issues like blockages or congestion.
- Lung disease: Asthma is a common cause of breathing issues and attacks often occur due to a trigger like an allergic reaction to dust, mold or pollen. Other lung diseases like pulmonary edema, lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, plural effusion or tuberculosis can also trigger breathing problems.
- Sinusitis: Sinusitis occurs when the lining of the nasal passages becomes inflamed. While sinusitis usually occurs due to a viral infection which shows improvement in a week or two, it can also become chronic, lasting over 12 weeks. Chronic sinusitis often requires sinus surgery to clear the blockage and allow the sinuses to drain.
How can my ear, nose and throat doctor help?
Depending on your diagnosis, your doctor will use different treatments. You will have a physical examination with your ear, nose, and throat doctor. This time allows your doctor to spot abnormalities with your body, take images using x-rays or MRIs, and begin any necessary testing. Your doctor will work with you to determine the cause of your breathing problems and find the best course of treatment for you.
Discover the reasons why your voice is hoarse and what an ENT doctor can do about it.
While some people may find a raspy voice attractive, a hoarse voice may be rather startling if it’s suddenly appeared out of nowhere. There are many reasons why you may be experiencing hoarseness. Find out the common causes and when you may want to see an ENT doctor for treatment.
There are many reasons why you may be dealing with a hoarse voice. Common causes include,
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Vocal cord polyps or cysts
- Thyroid problems
- Vocal cord trauma
- Parkinson’s disease
- Cancer of the throat
But to find out what is really behind your raspy voice you will want to visit an otolaryngologist who will be able to ask you questions about your hoarseness and also perform a physical exam. Sometimes we will use a small, lighted scope that will be able to examine the vocal cords for any issues. If you have been dealing with hoarseness for about 2 to 3 weeks then it’s really important that you seek medical attention, as there could be a serious reason behind your condition.
Treating Your Hoarseness
The treatment plan that you are given will depend on the cause of your symptoms. Some acute infections such as laryngitis will clear up over time on its own, so more conservative at-home measures like using a humidifier can help manage symptoms until the illness goes away.
To prevent further damage or injury to your vocal cords we also recommend resting the voice as much as possible. If you are a smoker we highly advise that you consider quitting.
If allergies or GERD is the reason for your hoarseness they can both be managed with certain medications. Surgery is usually only necessary if there are polyps, cysts, trauma to the vocal cords or the presence of cancer.
If your hoarseness is severe or is concerning you this is more than enough reason to visit an ENT professional who can tell you what’s going on. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call.
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