Allergies & Sinus
You’re not alone if you suffer from allergies. In fact, millions of Americans have them. Allergies can appear at any age, and can even disappear in childhood only to reappear in adulthood.
Allergy is a condition, often inherited, in which the immune system of the affected person reacts to something in their environment that doesn’t affect most other people. People often think of allergy as only “hayfever,” with sneezing, runny nose, nasal stuffiness and itchy, watery eyes. However, allergies can cause symptoms such as chronic “sinus” problems, postnasal drip, head congestion, frequent “colds”, recurring ear infections, hearing loss, dizziness, chronic cough and asthma. Even stomach and intestinal problems, many skin rashes, chronic headaches and fatigue can be symptoms of allergy.
Your Ear, Nose and Throat ENT Allergist is a specialist who can diagnose and treat allergies affecting the ear, nose and throat. The specialty of ear, nose and throat is also called Otolaryngology, and we sometimes refer to allergy problems of this type as Otolaryngic Allergy. Both Dr. Slater and his nurse, Lisa, are members of the American Academy of Otolayrngic Allergy.
When allergen avoidance and medications do not successfully control allergy symptoms, the Otolayrngic Allergist can alter the body’s overactive response by carefully challenging the patient’s immune system through regular injections of the actual allergens to which a patient is sensitive. This treatment, which is very similar to the vaccination for infectious diseases such as the flu, can be given after allergy testing has revealed what it is the patient is allergic to.
When you test with Austin Ear Clinic for allergies, you must:
- Wear a short-sleeved shirt so we can get up to your shoulders on both arms.
- Be prepared to be tested with needles under the skin (intradermal testing).
You will have two visits, seven days apart, each lasting one hour. You must be off of any steroid for 30 days and you must be off of antihistamines and nasal sprays for 7 days prior to your first test.
Austin Ear treats with weekly injections and once we get a patient to a maintenance dose, which can take anywhere from 6 weeks to 4 months, then the patient can take the allergy shot at home and do the injections themselves if they are comfortable doing so. Remember that people on beta-blocker medications are not candidates for testing and treatment with immunotherapy, which is what the shots are called. Beta-Blockers may make the medicine we use cause you to go into anaphylactic reaction. This renders them ineffective and potentially dangerous. Anyone with immune disorders is not a candidate for testing and treatment with immunotherapy as this could cause a flare up of the autoimmune condition.
Over time, it may be possible, with immunotherapy, to actually alter a person’s excessive response to their environmental allergens. This can both improve symptoms and decrease the need for medications and allergen avoidance for many years.
Why seek the care of an Otolaryngic Allergist?
An Otolaryngic Allergist is able to diagnose and treat disorders of the upper respiratory tract caused by allergic conditions. Because an Otolaryngic Allergist is an ear, nose and throat specialist, other non-allergic diseases of the upper respiratory tract can also be efficiently diagnosed and treated. To diagnose and treat your allergies, the Otolaryngic Allergist uses methods that have been shown to not only identify specific allergens but also to achieve effective control of allergies quickly.
When to see a specialist:
- When the diagnosis of an ear, nose or throat allergy or the cause of an ear, nose or throat symptom is uncertain.
- When allergy or ear, nose or throat symptoms are not adequately controlled.
- When special diagnostic tests are not adequately controlled.
- When special diagnostic allergy tests are needed.
- When specialized treatment such as immunotherapy is needed.
- When other related ear, nose, and throat medical problems such as chronic sinusitis, nasal polyps, fluid in the middle ear, chronic ear infections, deviated septum, vocal disturbances or enlarged adenoids or tonsils may be present.
- When complications associated with treatment or difficulty in controlling allergy symptoms are affecting the patient’s quality of life.
Dr. Slater and his Allergy Emergency Medical Technician are members of the Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy. Austin Ear can help you get some relief from allergies. Call us today at 512-454-0341 and get started on the road to wellness with us.
Sinus & Sinusitis
What are the Sinuses?
Paransal sinuses are air filled pockets located in the head. There are four pairs of sinuses:
- Maxillary Sinuses
- Frontal Sinuses
- Ethmoid Sinuses
- Sphenoid Sinuses
How do Healthy Sinuses work?
When you breath in air, mucus in sinuses humidifies the air and collects bacteria and pollutants.
Tiny hairs lining the sinus move the mucus (with pollutants) out of the sinus, into your throat. You then swallow the mucus, and your stomach acid destroys the bacteria and pollutants.
What is Sinusitis?
Sinusitis (or rhinosinusitis) is an inflammation or swelling of the sinus lining and drainage pathways, which can lead to poor or blocked sinus drainage.
Typical Sinusitis Symptoms:
- Bad breath or loss of smell
- Cough, often worse at night
- Fatigue and generally not feeling well
- Headache – pressure like pain, pain behind the eyes, toothache, or tenderness of the face.
- Nasal stuffiness and discharge
- Sore throat and postnasal drip
What Causes Sinusitis?
Possible sinusitis triggers:
- Common cold and other viral respiratory illnesses
- Allergies or mold sensitivity
- Environmental irritants such as air pollution, or tobacco smoke
- Nasal polyps that block or slow drainage
- Anatomy variations, such as a deviated septum, that narrow drainage pathways
Types of Sinusitis:
Acute: Sinusitis symptoms resolve in four weeks or less.
Recurrent: Four or more acute sinusitis outbreaks in a single calendar year. Periods of relief are followed by another outbreak.
Chronic: Symptoms last for more than 12 weeks. Severity of symptoms may change, but will not completely resolve.
Potential Sinusitis Treatment Options
|Balloon Sinus Dilation||NO||YES||YES|
|Endoscopic Sinsus Surgery||NO||YES||YES|
Medical Therapy Treatment Overview
Nasal Irrigation – Clears pollutants, thin mucus
Nasal and/or Systemic Steroids – Reduce swelling
Antibiotics – Fight infection
Mucolytics – Clear mucus
Drugs or combination of drugs are used to reduce swelling, thin mucus and restore drainage.
Potential Side Effects of Medical Therapy:
Medical Therapies to Treat Swelling
Nasal and/or Systemic Steroids: Nasal Dryness, Nosebleeds
Medical Therapies to Thin Mucus and Treat Infection
Antibiotics: Unpleasant aftertaste, Upset stomach, Mild to severe diarrhea.
Decongestants: Rebound congestion, Increased blood pressure, Dizziness, Nervousness or irritability, Trouble sleeping.
Mucolytics: Dizziness, Drowsiness, Excitability, nervousness or anxiety, Headache, Nausea, Trouble Sleeping
Balloon Sinus Dilation + Endoscopic Sinus Surgery
Balloon Sinus Dilation: Small balloon gently reshapes anatomy to expand drainage pathways
Endoscopic Sinus Surgery: Small cutting instruments are used to remove tissue and expand drainage pathways
Balloon sinus dilation and endoscopic sinus surgery are used to expand drainage pathways and sinus openings to improve drainage.
Comparing Balloon Sinus Dilation & Endoscopic Sinus Surgery
|Office Balloon Sinus Dilation||Endoscopic Sinus Surgery|
|Is it effective?||Yes *||Yes *|
|How does it work?||Small balloons gently reshape anatomy||Cutting Instruments remove tissue|
|Will I be put under general anesthesia?||No, it can be performed under local anesthesia in your doctor’s office.||Yes, it is typically performed with the patient under general anesthesia in an OR.|
|How long will recovery take?||1-2 Days||1-2 Weeks|
- *Separate studies have shown that patients who receive office balloon sinus dilation or endoscopic sinus surgery experience significant, lasting improvement in sinusitis symptoms.
See our quick video on How Balloon Sinus Dilation Works:
What should I expect the day of my Procedure?
- The procedure will begin with application of local anesthesia to ensure your comfort. This can take up to 15-30 minutes.
- During the procedure, a thin instrument, with the balloon, will be guided through your nasal passages to the treatment area.
- After being positioned, the balloon will be gently inflated for five seconds and then deflated.
- The balloon may be repositioned and the inflation repeated.
- When dilation is complete, the instrument and balloon will be removed. A typical procedure takes approximately 30 minutes.
- Most people return to normal activity 24 hours after the procedure.