I don’t go ANYWHERE without my allergy pills. I even bring them to work so my allergies don’t interrupt my focus. There’s nothing more embarrassing than sneezing uncontrollably in the office and everyone thinks you’re sick. NOPE — just allergies!
It has been so out of hand lately, I’ve started to wonder if I should see an ENT (ear, nose and throat doctor). Dr. Esther Cheng from The Christ Hospital Health Network answered some of the questions I have, and… it looks like the time might be NOW to see an ENT! If you’re sick of the sneezing, tissues and allergy pills too — this is for YOU!
What can I do at home?
I am always trying to find safe and effective ways to help myself at home before going to see a doctor. Allergies are no different! I asked Dr. Cheng if she had any recommendations for home remedies to help with sinus issues, and she recommends, “One of the most helpful home remedies for sinus issues is nasal saline, whether it be in the form of nasal saline sprays or nasal saline irrigations (i.e. Neti Pot, Navage, etc.) This helps to flush out any allergens or irritants in the nose that may be contributing to symptoms.”
Whenever my body is going through something, I look at my lifestyle. Am I doing something that is contributing to the issues I’m having? “Smoking can contribute to nasal and sinus issues. If you have the means to quit, this can lead to improvement in some nasal and sinus symptoms including nasal congestion. Having a humidifier in the home (separate from the furnace) can be very helpful to improve nasal dryness. Nasal dryness contributes to nasal congestion as well as nose bleeds,” says Dr. Cheng.
Who is affected by sinus issues? When do they start?
“Sinus issues can affect all ages,” Dr. Cheng says. Growing up, I remember my little sister struggling with allergies. My mom always carried around Benadryl just in case. I felt lucky that I didn’t have to deal with any sinus-related issues. My luck did not last forever. Several years ago, I started dealing with allergies, and Dr. Cheng let me know, “It is not unusual to develop allergies and sinus issues later in life. This tends to be common in the Cincinnati area.”
What causes sinus issues? Dr. Cheng explains, “Allergies are one of the most common reasons to develop sinus issues like chronic sinusitis and recurrent sinus infections.” I never realized allergies could lead to other issues!
When is it time to see an ENT? What steps will an ENT take?
Dr. Cheng says, “We see patients with allergies that are not getting better with the normal over-the-counter regimens.” We live in the Midwest… so it’s common to deal with allergies at certain times of the year — like spring! However, allergies should not be interrupting your entire day. If you’ve tried everything over-the-counter, you may need to be referred to an ENT who can take further steps.
Dr. Cheng explains, “By the time a patient has been referred to an ENT, they typically have been on multiple rounds of antibiotics, most often for a sinus infection that won’t go away. We can treat the sinus infection with a more aggressive regimen of antibiotics and steroids. If there is still evidence of infection despite this, we will sometimes obtain imaging in the form of a CT scan. We may also look in a patient’s nose with a camera to ensure there is no blockage or other cause of the persistent sinus infection. We can also take a sample of any drainage to ensure that the antibiotics are covering the specific bacteria growing. We can also recommend irrigations for your nose and sinuses that may contain antibiotics or steroids depending on the specific scenario. As a last resort, sometimes sinus surgery becomes necessary.”
After learning more about allergies from Dr. Cheng, I’m starting to realize my allergies may be the cause for other concerns I have. If you took the time to read my blog, maybe it’s time for you to see about getting an ENT as well! Sending all the good vibes this spring (allergy season)!
Persistent allergies causing havoc in your life? You can schedule online with The Christ Hospital Physicians – Ear, Nose & Throat or call 513-421-5558 to make an appointment.