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Published on June 09, 2020

Seasonal Allergy Issues

woman sneezing

Spring time means allergy season is upon us once again which could mean trouble for your sinuses.

Sinus infections, diseases and disorders are more prevalent problem than some might guess - nearly 37 million Americans experience sinus-related problems each year, making it one of the most common health problems. 

EvergreenHealth allergists answer some of the most common questions about allergies.

What are some of the allergies and sinus issues we face in the Northwest?

EvergreenHealth Allergists:  In the Northwest, seasonal allergies can be brought on by tree pollen in the spring, grass pollen as summer approaches and weed pollen in late summer.  Many will recognize seasonal allergy symptoms – running nose, itchy eyes, nasal congestion, etc.

While allergies can cause the nasal passages and nasal lining to swell and the defenses in the nose and sinuses to overreact, allergies symptoms can be confused with more serious signs of a sinus infection.

The combination of chronic allergies and sinus issues can lead to extensive sinusitis.

How can patients detect underlying causes of sinus problems?

EvergreenHealth Allergists:  Sinuses are small cavities behind your forehead, cheeks, and eyes. If mucus builds up in these areas, you may feel pressure or pain.

While allergies are one of the more common causes of sinus problems, other factors and illnesses can lead to sinus problems, too.

  • Viruses and bacteria that cause colds and flus increase swelling of the nasal passages which prevent proper draining of the sinuses.
  • If you experience chronic headaches or have any sort of discoloration of mucus or phlegm could be contributed to sinusitis or a sinus infection.
  • If you have chronic tooth pain or a poor sense of taste and smell, you might have sinus-related problems.
  • Symptoms as small as a stuffy nose or even halitosis (bad breath) can be distinctive symptoms of infection, too.

What is the best approach to managing sinus issues?

EvergreenHealth Allergists:  Untreated, sinus issues can negatively affect your overall quality of life. Many have trouble sleeping, and sinus pressure can easily affect mood and energy levels. Other complications may include chronic migraines, fevers, facial pain, fatigue, sensitivity to light.

It’s best to consult your health care provider before trying at-home remedies. He or she may recommend:

  • A humidifier is generally good for sinus care. Dry environments can make it so mucus cannot properly move through your nasal passages so the added moisture in the air can be very beneficial.
  • A saline spray or Neti pot help you flush the sinuses to get rid of the build-up of bacteria, pollutants, and allergens
  • If these two solutions aren’t enough, an over-the-counter decongestant could also provide symptom relief.

Prolonged symptoms usually indicate a more serious problem that should be addressed by a specialist.

What are some advances in treating chronic sinus disorders?

EvergreenHealth Allergists: Balloon Sinuplasty (BSP) is a relatively new, safe and minimally invasive sinus procedure for patients seeking relief from chronic sinus pain. BSP works similarly to how angioplasty works to open blocked arteries; a small, flexible balloon catheter is used to open up blocked sinus passageways and facilitate draining of the mucus that builds up. A saline solution is sprayed into the inflamed sinus to flush out the pus and mucus before the system is removed, leaving the sinuses open.

BSP only requires local anesthesia meaning a fast and comfortable recovery for patients with less pain. 

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