Allergies & Sinusitis

Sinusitis

Sinusitis is a condition that refers to an inflammation of the lining within the paranasal sinuses. Sinusitis can be classified by location:

  • maxillary, which causes pain or pressure in the cheek area;
  • frontal, which causes pain or pressure above and behind the eyes;
  • ethmoid, which causes pain or pressure between or behind the eyes; and
  • sphenoid, which causes pain or pressure behind the eyes.

Sinusitis can also be classified by duration: acute lasts for four weeks or less, subacute lasts four to twelve weeks, chronic lasts more than twelve weeks, and recurrent, which consists of several acute attacks within a year.

Most acute cases of sinusitis are caused by an inflammation of the sinuses that eventually lead to a bacterial infection. With chronic sinusitis, the membranes of both the paranasal sinuses and the nose are thickened because they are constantly inflamed, possibly due to allergies, nasal polyps, or asthma.

Sinusitis can be treated through courses of antibiotics, decongestants, saline sprays, or in cases of severe chronic sinusitis, oral steroids. When pharmaceuticals fail, surgery may be an alternative. The goal of the surgery is to improve sinus drainage and reduce blockage. Thus, a surgeon will enlarge the opening of the sinuses, remove any polyps, and correct any defects that contribute to the nasal obstruction. While many people have fewer symptoms as a result of the surgery, many others experience a recurrence of their symptoms post-surgery.

Nosebleeds

Nosebleeds are fairly common given the prominence of the nose on the face, as well as the rich network of capillaries contained within it. These make the nose susceptible to trauma and injury which may result in nosebleeds. Other factors include changes in weather, dry air, allergies, repeated nose blowing, or sinus infections.

In most cases, nosebleeds can be treated by the patient with no need for professional medical care. When experiencing a nosebleed, patients should lean their head forward and pinch the nostrils together from about 10 minutes. Once bleeding stops, it is important to avoid sneezing or blowing the nose for the next 24 hours. If these techniques do not stop the bleeding, it is important to seek medical attention in order to prevent serious complications.

Cauterization is an effective treatment for chronic nosebleeds that involves burning the nose with an electrical device to close off part of the nose and prevent future bleeding. Patients who experience chronic nosebleeds often have an exposed blood vessel in the nose. By closing off this blood vessel, most patients will experience a significantly lower amount of nosebleeds, with some experiencing complete relief.

Nasal Congestion

Nasal congestion, or stuffiness, is typically caused by a swelling of the tissues that line the nose. Often the result of a cold, sinus infection or allergies, nasal congestion will frequently get better in a few days. Decongestants and antihistamines may help by reducing the inflammation and slowing mucus production. Using humidifiers and saline nasal sprays can also provide some relief from congestion.

If nasal congestion does not respond to conservative treatment, prescription medications may be necessary. Only when this is a chronic, recurring condition will nasal surgery be considered to enlarge the openings that drain the sinuses and relieve symptoms.

Post-Nasal Drip

Post-nasal drip occurs when you produce too much mucus or it gets too thick and begins to overflow into the back of the throat. It is often the result of a cold, sinus infection or allergies. Post-nasal drip typically causes irritation to the throat and a cough.

Treatment for post-nasal drip is determined by the cause of the condition. If it is the result of a bacterial infection, antibiotics are an effective method. For post-nasal drip caused by allergies, sinus issues or a virus, your doctor may instead recommend a decongestant, antihistamine or nasal spray.

Smell & Taste Disorders

Taste and smell disorders are closely related, common conditions that affect the chemosensation system and may develop as a result of genetic factors, injury, upper respiratory infections or exposure to certain chemicals. Taste and smell disorders can be temporary or permanent, and may include:

  • Hypogeusia
  • Ageusia
  • Dysgeusia
  • Anosmia
  • Dysosmia
  • Hyperosmia

While taste and smell disorders are not serious, they can affect your daily life and may lead to unpleasant side effects. Treatment for these conditions usually focuses on treating the underlying cause of the condition, while direct treatments may range from simple life changes to surgery.

Allergies

Allergies are an abnormal response of the immune system to a normally harmless substance. Some of the most common allergens are pollen, dust mites, mold and animal dander. When a person is exposed to an allergen, their body releases histamine, which causes symptoms that include sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, itching and a rash.

The most effective way to treat allergies is to simply avoid exposure to allergens. Other treatments include antihistamines, decongestants, nasal sprays and eye drops. Allergy shots called immunotherapy are also available and help to increase tolerance to allergens. The allergen is injected at increasingly larger amounts to reduce reactions.


For more information about Allergies & Sinusitis, contact our office at 818-609-0600 to schedule an appointment.

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