Millions of Americans battle spring and summer allergies 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 allergies that you may not have considered.
Blount Memorial board-certified otolaryngologist Dr. Bryan Tigner, who specializes in surgery of the nose and sinuses and is fellowship-trained in allergy, says there are three main tenets to allergy therapy: avoidance, medicine and allergy immunotherapy (also known as allergy shots). “Allergy testing can help you identify your allergy season and specific allergy triggers,” Tigner said. “Avoidance measures are then tailored to your specific allergy profile. Many medications are over the counter, but there are two really neat new prescription therapies available to allergy sufferers. A new nasal spray uses a new technique to get a steroid spray high into the nasal/sinus cavities. Another new medication targets the very basic signaling molecules that lead to inflammation in allergy. It is for patients with severe allergies and sinonasal polyps,” he explained.
Tigner says surgery is an option, but is not considered the first step. “I have the advantage of having many tools – some medical, some surgical – in my toolbox to help patients who suffer from nasal drainage, congestion and other allergy symptoms,” he said. “When conservative measures such as medication and avoidance fail, you probably should make a visit to your doctor. We have many new, in-office procedures to treat nasal blockage and nasal drainage. Some of these procedures take only a few minutes, and you can go right back to work or the gym,” he explained.
“When a patient comes to see me, I’m also looking for structural defects that might be contributing to his or her symptoms, such as a deviated septum or turbinate hypertrophy,” Tigner continued. “Often, symptoms may not be caused by allergies alone, but may be due to sinusitis. Surgical options depend on the structures involved. 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 said. “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,” he added.
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 to the activities they enjoy as quickly as possible. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 865-983-4090.