Posts for: July, 2019
Do you feel like you’re constantly dealing with a stuffy nose? If so, you certainly aren’t alone. There are many people out there that feel like they can’t breathe properly due to nasal congestion. While this may be a frustrating problem and one that’s challenging to tackle on your own, an otolaryngologist can help you find the relief you need.
The two most common causes of persistent nasal congestion are chronic sinusitis and allergic rhinitis. ENT doctors are seeing more and more patients who are dealing with these conditions. In order to properly treat these conditions you should see an ear, nose and throat specialist who will be able to determine the cause of your symptoms so they can create an effective treatment plan.
What is allergic rhinitis?
If you are someone who is allergic to animal dander, dust or pollen then you may be dealing with allergic rhinitis. Being exposed to these common allergens can lead to inflammation of the nose and sinuses, which can make it difficult to breathe. Allergic rhinitis is a common condition affecting both children and adults in the US. Along with chronic nasal congestion you may also experience a runny nose, postnasal drip, coughing, itchy nose, or sneezing.
Some people experience symptoms all year round while for others their symptoms are seasonal. Seasonal allergies caused by pollen, dust mites, and cockroaches may flare up throughout the year with bouts of remission.
What is chronic sinusitis?
Most people will deal with sinusitis, or sinus infection, at least once during their lifetime; however, sometimes this condition doesn’t go away with simple at-home care and treatment. When symptoms persistent for more than 12 weeks and don’t respond to conservative care then this is considered chronic. The common symptoms of chronic sinusitis include nasal congestion or a blockage, nasal drainage, decreased sense of smell, and facial pressure.
It can be difficult to tell the difference between allergic rhinitis and chronic sinusitis. This is why it’s a good idea to visit an otolaryngologist if you are dealing with persistent nasal congestion that doesn’t go away with at-home care. Both of these conditions can be controlled through lifestyle modifications, prescription medication, minimally invasive procedures, and allergy shots. Your doctor will be able to sit down with you and discuss the different treatment options available to you.
From outdoor allergies to asthma, there are many reasons why you or your child may be having trouble with your breathing. Breathing problems can be distressing and it’s important to understand when symptoms warrant seeing an otolaryngologist for a proper evaluation.
Common Causes of Breathing Problems
You may have trouble breathing if you are dealing with:
- Common cold
- Acute or chronic sinusitis
- Deviated septum
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Other upper respiratory infections (e.g. pneumonia)
While some conditions like the common cold will only cause mild and temporary symptoms, if you notice that your symptoms are serious, don’t respond to at-home care or are getting worse then it’s time to seek medical attention. After all, there are certain conditions such as sinusitis that can become chronic if not properly treated. An ENT doctor will know exactly what medications and treatments to offer to reduce sinus inflammation and to make breathing easier.
Chronic breathing problems, particularly those caused by allergies and asthma, may also be associated with:
- Chest tightness or congestion
- Nasal congestion
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Coughing that gets worse at night
- Shallow breathing
Asthma symptoms are usually detected early in childhood; however, it is still possible for adults to be diagnosed later in life (known as adult-onset asthma). If you or your child are experiencing difficulty breathing and tightness in the chest made worse by cold air, stress, or exercise it’s important that you see an ENT doctor right away. While asthma cannot be cured it can be properly managed with long-term medication. Leaving asthma untreated could be harmful to your health.
Testing and Diagnosis
When you come into the office an otolaryngologist will have you fill out detailed information about your family and personal medical history. Your doctor will also perform a physical exam. Pulmonary function tests are often used to test lung function in those suspected of having asthma. Of course, there are other breathing tests such as spirometry. Your doctor will also ask you questions about the symptoms you’ve been experiencing in order to rule out certain conditions or illnesses.
The treatment plan you receive will depend on the issue you are dealing with. For example, acute sinusitis can often be managed with over-the-counter nasal decongestants and antihistamines while chronic sinusitis may require more aggressive treatment such as prescription steroid sprays, oral corticosteroids, and endoscopic nasal surgery to remove the blockage or to repair the deviated septum. Your otolaryngologist can help you get your breathing problems under control.