Posts for category: ENT Care
Find out what causes allergies and how you can get them under control.
Anyone who has allergies deals with a lot of those same annoying symptoms: the constant sneezing, the red itchy eyes, and the runny nose. Of course, not everyone understands that their symptoms could be due to allergies. What are allergies, and how are they managed? Should you treat your allergies on your own or turn to an ENT doctor?
What is an allergy?
Did you know that allergies are one of the most common long-term disorders people deal with? When exposed to a certain allergen, your body tells you that this allergen is harmful and then goes to work to attack it. This means that your immune system kicks into overdrive and produces antibodies known as immunoglobulin E. An allergic reaction is your body’s natural inclination to overreact to this allergen.
There are many things to which you could be allergic, including,
- Pet dander
Allergy symptoms can range from mild to more severe and even life-threatening. If you suspect that your symptoms are due to allergies, an ENT doctor can quickly diagnose and create a treatment plan that will get you feeling better fast.
Allergy Treatment Options
The treatment you receive will depend on the type of allergy you have and the severity of your symptoms. You’ll be happy to hear that many allergy sufferers find relief through simple medications. Those with very mild symptoms may be able to get away with over-the-counter antihistamines or decongestants (to fight nasal congestion).
Your ENT doctor may also prescribe more powerful antihistamines or nasal sprays if your symptoms are more moderate or severe. In some cases, a long-term allergy sufferer may finally choose to get allergy shots to significantly lessen the body’s response to a specific allergen.
Of course, there are also non-medicinal approaches to reducing your exposure to the offending allergen, and an otolaryngologist can offer great tips to reduce allergy exposure at home. Examples include bathing your trusty pet once a week and using allergy-proof bedding.
Don’t let allergies affect your daily life and the activities you love. If you find yourself staying indoors or avoiding things that make you happy for your allergies, it’s time you turn to an ENT doctor for treatment options.
Wondering if your symptoms could be caused by an underlying, undetected allergy?
Allergies can happen to anyone and they can occur all year round. These days, it’s particularly easy to brush off symptoms as a cold or sinus infection when in actuality you could have an allergy. If you suspect that you might have an allergy, a visit to an ENT doctor can provide you with the diagnosis and treatment plan you need.
You Have These Unexplainable Symptoms
Do you often feel like you’re dealing with headaches, a stuffy nose, dry cough or itchy skin? While these symptoms don’t necessarily mean that you have allergies if you are experiencing several of these symptoms for long periods you may want to turn to an allergist. If you have symptoms that keep coming and going you may want to speak with an ENT doctor who can easily diagnose your allergies.
You Notice a Recurring or Itchy Rash
Another common sign of an allergy is an irritated or itchy rash on the body. You may notice that it gets worse when exposed to the allergen (e.g. certain food or medications). If you are dealing with a rash that appears during certain times of the year or for weeks on end, this could be a sign of an allergy and it’s worth turning to a doctor to investigate further. If you notice swelling of the face or you develop hives (itchy welts) these are also common signs of a skin allergy.
You Think You Have a Sinus Infection…
But it keeps coming back or doesn’t seem to go away. If you feel like you’re dealing with cold symptoms or a sinus infection on the regular, it might not be any of these issues but rather allergies. Sometimes allergies can be misdiagnosed as a sinus infection or cold. If you find that the medications you were prescribed by a doctor aren’t working, this is yet another sign that you could have a bad case of allergies. If you also find yourself dealing with upper respiratory infections during certain times of the year, it could be allergies.
You Feel Exhausted
While there are many causes of fatigue and exhaustion, if you are feeling fatigued while also dealing with any of the symptoms above this could be another sign of an undetected allergy. This is because the immune system releases histamine, which causes an inflammatory response. This inflammatory response can lead to weird symptoms such as fatigue or body aches.
If you are experiencing allergy symptoms, turning to an ENT doctor will give you the answers you need to figure out how to properly manage your symptoms. You don’t have to do it alone and over-the-counter medications are often a Band-Aid instead of a solution.
Retrain Your Nose
Yes, there is such a thing as olfactory training (aka smell training) and you can do it yourself from the comfort of your own home. Of course, if you have any questions you should contact your ENT doctor. During smell training, grab four strong essential oil scents such as mint, vanilla, citrus, and eucalyptus. You can also use ground coffee if you’d like. Sniff each scent for 20 seconds, and repeat this training at least three times a day. For best results, do this as soon as possible after losing your sense of smell and taste. The sooner you start, the better!
Preventing Olfactory Dysfunction
While retraining the senses is possible after Covid-19, the best way to prevent this from happening in the first place is to get vaccinated against Covid-19. If you do experience these symptoms, the next best thing is to immediately start olfactory training. If you aren’t sure how to do it or you’re not sure if you’re doing it effectively, speak with your doctor or ENT specialist.
When to See an ENT Doctor
Anyone who is experiencing olfactory dysfunction due to Covid-19 may feel that this symptom is impacting their wellbeing, social life, and quality of life. If you find that this is happening to you, you may wish to speak to a specialist who can provide you with some advice and tips for how to get your taste and smell back.
It’s important to note that most people who’ve had this symptom have fully recovered their smell and taste, but it can take months; however, early treatment may be key to recovering your tastebuds again quickly. So, seek treatment as soon as possible.
If you have questions or concerns about loss of taste or smell after recovering from Covid-19, don’t hesitate to speak with an ENT specialist who can provide you with answers and information to help you get your health back on track.
What are the types of nasal sprays?
Not all nasal sprays work the same way and it’s important to figure out which one is going to provide you with the most effective relief. There are:
Saline nasal sprays
If the air around you is cold and dry, which is common in winter, you may be dealing with irritated nasal tissue. If this is the case, a saline nasal spray can help rinse away mucus and drain the sinuses of bacteria and germs, which can reduce inflammation. If you find that your nose is more sensitive to over-the-counter saline nasal sprays, look for ones without preservatives.
If you regularly deal with thick, nasal congestion, saline nasal sprays can help to loosen and thin out mucus. It can also be used daily without rebound nasal congestion or harm to the nasal tissue. Of course, if you are concerned about any over-the-counter nasal sprays or medications you’re using, don’t hesitate to talk to your otolaryngologist.
Decongestant nasal sprays
While saline nasal sprays can be used regularly without issues, decongestant nasal sprays should not be used for more than three days. If used more often, you’re likely to deal with more congestion once you stop taking it than when you first started the medication. It’s important to use these sprays exactly as directed. If you abuse the product, as many people do, you may find yourself dealing with chronic nasal congestion, which may require a steroid spray to treat the problem.
So, when is it safe to use a decongestant nasal spray? If you are at the very beginning stages of a sinus infection or cold, a decongestant nasal spray can provide relief in the first couple of days. If you find that your nasal problems persist, then it’s a good idea to tell your ear, nose, and throat doctor.
If nasal sprays aren’t providing you with relief, or you find yourself using them daily, it’s important that you turn to an ENT doctor who can provide you with a more long-term and effective nasal spray or treatment that can help you breathe better and tackle your symptoms.
Make Sure You Use Sterile Water Every Time
Most people simply fill up their Neti pot or nasal irrigation system with tap water. This is a big no-no. It’s very important that you use distilled or sterilized water to kill off any amoeba or bacteria in the water that could cause serious and even fatal infections if they enter the sinuses. It’s important that you stick to this rule every time you use your sinus rinse.
You Can Make Your Own Solution
Most commercial nasal irrigation systems come with their own packets of nasal solution. While it’s a good idea to use these, if you decide that you want to make your own it’s important that you get the measurements right so you don’t damage the nasal tissue (after all, this tissue is very delicate). The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology has provided this homemade nasal rinse “recipe”:
- 1 part baking soda
- 3 parts no-iodide, preservative-free salt
Keep Your Neti Pot Clean
Since nasal irrigation systems hold water, it makes it a hospitable environment for mold and mildew to grow. The best way to prevent this from happening is to rinse out your neti pot with hot water and soap after each use. If you use your neti pot regularly, you’ll want to play it safe and get a new one every few months.
You Can Use it Daily
If you are experiencing nasal congestion or postnasal drip due to a cold or allergies then you may wish to use your sinus rinse every day. If this is your first time using it, it’s recommended that you try it only once daily and then work your way up to three times per day to see if that helps alleviate your symptoms.
If you are dealing with several or persistent nasal symptoms and issues that aren’t being relieved through sinus rinses and regular at-home care then it may be time to turn to an ENT doctor.