There’s no denying that we love mild temperatures – not too hot, not too cold, but just right. It’s no surprise, then, that once spring rolls around, we’re all too ready to get outside and enjoy the warm sun. Of course, spring comes with its own downsides, namely allergies. Millions of Americans battle allergy season every year, and our region is notorious for having some of the worst air for allergy sufferers. Of course, there are steps you can take to battle your allergies, and odds are good you’re already taking them if you’re used to going through this procedure year after year. However, there are some alternatives for treating your spring allergies that you may not have considered.
Blount Memorial otolaryngologist Dr. Bryan Tigner says surgery is an option, but wouldn’t be considered the first step. “One thing I always tell my patients is that the nose is a filter,” he said. “We clean all of our other filters such as our oil filters and air filters, but we don’t consider our noses. With nasal saline solutions or one of the sinus rinses available over the counter, we can wash out the pollens that your nose is filtering out throughout the day. It can be really helpful and it’s natural. Many of the most-effective allergy medications now are available over the counter, including Nasacort and Flonase. Those are good, safe therapies for the first line of defense. When those measures don’t work, you probably should make a visit to your doctor,” he explained.
If you find you’re having less luck with over-the-counter remedies, Tigner says there are ways your doctor can help. “There are combination nasal sprays and nasal steroids that are very effective that are available by prescription,” he said. “When a patient comes to see me, I’m also looking for structural defects that might be contributing to their symptoms, such as a deviated septum or turbinate hypertrophy. Often symptoms may not be caused by allergies alone, but may be due to sinusitis,” he said. “We also can perform allergy testing to determine exactly what you’re reacting to and how to best avoid or treat those things,” he added.
“Surgical options depend on the structures involved,” Tigner said. “A lot of patients who come in with chronic congestion have a deviated septum or turbinate hypertrophy, where the turbinates in your nose that filter things out are chronically inflamed and have to be repaired surgically because medicine no longer works. People who suffer from allergies also are at an increased risk for sinusitis. There are many minimally invasive techniques to address sinusitis now, one of which is balloon dilation of the sinuses, which is a procedure that can be done in the office. A patient can go home the same day and be back at work the next day, so that’s a great option for patients who are good candidates for it,” he explained.
“We’ve found that patients who suffer longer from sinusitis without getting the proper treatment have poorer long-term outcomes and end up using more health care dollars,” Tigner explained. “The quicker we intervene and identify those patients who need surgery, the better those patients tend to do. The bottom line is people don’t have to suffer. In the last year, Blount Memorial has purchased the state-of-the-art Medtronic Fusion Image Guidance System, which allows us to do both simple and complicated sinus surgeries. It’s one of the best image guidance systems around, and it allows us to perform sinus surgeries more safely and more completely than ever before,” he added.
As a board-certified otolaryngologist, Dr Tigner is able to offer his patients an effective balance of surgical and medical treatments for sinus and nasal problems to help them regain their quality of life, and return as quickly as possible to the activities they enjoy. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 865-983-4090.