Are Your Allergies Acting Up?
Changing seasons can sometimes bring a chorus of sneezing. Millions of people suffer from seasonal allergies thanks to exposure to external irritants or sinus pressure. Unfortunately, allergies can also happen throughout the year, which can be irritating and put a damper on activities. Whatever the reason, some of the typical remedies cannot stop the constant sneezing and stuffiness. Luckily, minimally invasive sinus surgery can help.
Why you can't stop sneezing
Nasal allergies can refer to one of 2 conditions. For some people, these 2 conditions can even overlap. Allergic rhinitis is the most common, which is inflammation of the nose. The inflammation is often triggered by allergens like mold, dust, hay, pollen, or pet hair. When the allergen enters the nose or eyes, the immune system responds with histamines. These histamines gather near the face, causing sneezing, stuffiness, swollen eyes, and an inflamed nose.
Look out for sinus pressure
Chronic sinusitis is the other condition related to allergies and constant sneezing. Sinuses are 4 sets of hollow cavities around the nose, eyes, and forehead. These channels produce a mucus layer that maintains moisture and protects from dirt, viruses, and allergens. Excess viruses, bacteria, or irritants can cause sinus inflammation, which can sometimes be chronic. In addition, inflamed channels block the flow of mucus, increasing the chances of allergies and viral infections. Symptoms include infections, sinus pain, tenderness, excess mucus, nasal pressure, coughing, and sneezing. Patients with allergic rhinitis have higher chances of developing sinusitis.
Treating your allergies
Even if the allergies are seasonal, at some point, anyone with allergies should visit an ENT doctor. The doctor can determine the cause of the sneezing through a series of tests. For example, a patch test can help with allergic rhinitis, while viewing the sinuses with an endoscope can check for chronic sinusitis. People with allergies or sinus inflammation can benefit from antihistamines, decongestants, nasal flushing, or corticosteroids. Sometimes, a doctor will suggest antibiotics or even controlled exposure to allergens, which can increase tolerance.
Can sinus surgery put a stop to sneezing?
If these treatment options fail or the allergies are perennial, the ENT doctor will explore other options. Severe cases of chronic sinusitis can benefit from minimally invasive sinus surgery. Some rare cases require the removal of pieces of sinus tissue. Today, most surgeons typically perform balloon sinuplasty. With the patient under general anesthesia, the surgeon passes an endoscope into the affected sinus cavity. The surgeon then inflates a small balloon attached to the endoscope to enlarge the sinuses. The sinuses are also cleaned with saline solution. Minimally invasive procedures allow the patient to go home the same day.
Benefits and risks
Surgery has a high success rate and can reduce sinus symptoms. After a few days of recovery, most patients report a significant decrease in sneezing and other symptoms. Minimally invasive surgery also helps with responsiveness to future allergy treatments. Of course, with any surgical procedure, there are risks. Some of these risks include constant mucus drainage, infection, and pain. However, because of the minimally invasive approach, complications are rare. Speak with the surgeon to express any concerns about surgery.
Stop sneezing in its tracks
Constant sneezing due to allergies or blocked sinuses can cause months of distress. Sometimes, medication and other non-invasive steps fail. At that point, many sinus sufferers grapple with the possibility of surgery. Luckily, minimally invasive sinus surgery can help. Most surgeons will agree that the benefits far exceed the risks. Take control of constant sneezing by visiting a local ENT doctor to discuss allergy treatment.