If you deal with constant runny noses and congestion, you may have more than the common cold.
Nasal polyps are benign tumors that grow in your nasal passages. If the polyps grow large enough, they can cause blockages in your airways. They are often a side effect of another health condition like allergies or an infection. Though nasal polyps are possible in everyone, they most commonly form in people with:
- Allergic rhinitis
- Sinusitis (Chronic sinus infections)
- Cystic fibrosis
Symptoms of Nasal Polyps
Nasal polyps are often ignored due to the fact that the symptoms are similar to the common cold. Symptoms often include:
- Sinus pressure
- Runny nose
- Decreased sensitivity to taste and smell
- Chronic sinus headaches
- Chronic nasal congestion
Can Nasal Polyps Be Treated?
Yes, nasal polyps can be treated with several different options, including nasal sprays, oral medications, nasal polyp surgery and antibiotics. Though these treatment options may decrease the effects of nasal polyps, polyps usually come back.
For more information about nasal polyps, consult your physician.
Swallowing is so simple to a majority of people. However, an estimated 15 million people in the United States suffer from Dysphagia, or trouble swallowing.
What are the Kinds of Dysphagia?
There are two kinds of Dysphagia:
Esophageal Dysphagia – Esophageal dysphagia is caused by the esophagus, the tube that connects the throat to the stomach, being damaged. Common symptoms of esophageal dysphagia include:
Lack of interest in food
Pain in the chest after swallowing
Excessive coughing in the middle of the night
Nausea after swallowing
Oropharyngeal Dysphagia - Oropharyngeal dysphagia is caused by an abnormality affecting the throat or mouth. Symptoms of oropharyngeal dysphagia include:
Taking a long time to chew food
Getting food stuck in the throat often
Lack of interest in food
Difficulty breathing while eating
Frequent coughing while eating
Treatment Options for Dysphagia
Treatment options for dysphagia depend greatly on the type of dysphagia you are suffering from and what is causing the dysphagia. Common treatment options for dysphagia include:
Exercises for swallowing muscles. These often include retraining muscles to work together to help you swallow.
Changing your diet. Your doctor may give you specific foods you are able to eat that make swallowing easier.
Medicines. If your dysphagia is related to GERD or heartburn, your doctor may prescribe medication to help prevent stomach acid from entering the esophagus.
If you believe you may have dysphagia, consult an ENT.
Everyone has gotten a headache at some point in their lives. However, do you know what kind of headache you’ve had? It’s important to get the proper diagnosis for sinus headaches so you can properly treat the problem.
Symptoms of a Sinus Headache
Sinus headaches are caused by a blockage of normal sinus drainage. The obstruction causes mucus to build up and get trapped in your sinuses. Some of the symptoms of a sinus headache are:
Pain and pressure in the front of your face
Pain and pressure behind your eyes
Sore throat due to mucus build up
These symptoms are often intensified by damp, cold weather if it’s a sinus headache.
Effective Treatments for Sinus Headaches
The most important thing to keep in mind when looking to treat sinus headaches is to figure out what is causing it. Is it caused by allergies? Congestion?
Treatment options can include:
Try a Nasal Spray – Nasal sprays can reduce swelling and relieve sinus congestion for sinus headaches that are caused by infection or allergies.
Antibiotics – If the sinus infection is caused by infection, antibiotics can treat the problem.
Sinus Surgery – There are sinus surgery options to open the blockage, therefore reducing the amount of sinus headaches.
If you think you suffer from sinus headaches, consult your ENT.
Eighty percent of people suffer from a misalignment of the nasal septum. However, most don’t even know it!
A deviated septum is a common condition where the bone and cartilage that divide the nasal cavity are off center and/or crooked.
Symptoms of a Deviated Septum
So, how do you know if you have a deviated septum? The most common symptoms of a deviated septum include:
Nasal congestion, with one side being more congested than the other.
Recurrent sinus infections
Localized facial pain, typically occurring above the eyes
Snoring during sleep
What Causes a Deviated Septum?
A deviated septum can occur for many reasons, the most common of which being impact trauma, such as a blow to the face. Other causes for a deviated septum include a congenital disorder and the bone shifting during puberty.
Treating a Deviated Septum
In some cases, deviated septum symptoms can be fixed with medications, such as decongestants and nasal sprays. However, more serious cases require a surgery, known as a septoplasty. A septoplasty is performed quickly and patients usually recover within two days to four weeks.
Consult your ENT doctor today for more information on fixing a deviated septum.
There are certain surgical procedures that may not be as invasive as others or they may have a shorter recovery time where you are up and walking around within hours. Often, these types of procedures are performed at an outpatient facility. These facilities specialize in certain types of procedures. When you use such a facility, you do not have to deal with overnight stays. Instead a few hours after your procedure, you are able to go home to recover in the comfort of your own bed.
Many people fear that the treatment they receive will not be as high in quality or the procedure could be more dangerous. However, this is not actually the case. If you have never been to an outpatient center or have never had treatment in one, there are some things you should know.
You Will Be Less Exposed to Infection
When you have a surgical procedure in a hospital facility, there is always a risk of infection no matter how careful the staff is and how clean the hospital is. There are many, many sick people in a hospital and one sneeze or cough could spread infection. However in an outpatient facility, things are quite different. Here only people that need certain procedures will be there and they will not be spreading those dangerous infections. You will be much safer from infection by having your procedure in one of these facilities.
More Attention and Less Crowding
In a hospital, the doctors, nurses, and techs must spread their attention in about 100 different directions – toward the patients already there, to new patients coming in through the emergency room, and to the families of the patients. Because of this, they are often busy and cannot give you as much attention as you would like. Additionally, you may have to wait hours to get certain tests and procedures you need during your stay. In an outpatient facility, there is no emergency room and no constant influx of patients. Your doctors and nurses will be able to spend much more time giving you direct attention during your stay.
You Will Not Be Moved from Place to Place
One of the best things about an outpatient facility is that you will not have to deal with the frustration of being moved from place to place for tests, your procedure as well as your recovery. In an outpatient facility, you have your procedure and recover all in the same place. This will make things much less of a hassle for you and you will not have to be moved until you are ready to go home.
No one wants to find out that they need surgery. There can be many scary unknowns. However, there are times when an operation is an absolute must to relieve pain, cure conditions, and restore health. If you have come to that point and your doctor has just informed you that you need surgery, you may feel a little overwhelmed or afraid.
Although your doctor may be 100% right that you need a surgical procedure, there is always room for human error or opinion-based decisions. There are times when a second opinion should not be just thought of as an option—it should be considered a must. How do you know when it’s the right idea to get a second opinion?
There is No Rule
There is no specific rule that gives you a clear-cut line when you should get a second opinion. However, there are some things you should discuss with your doctor or research on the Internet. Asking the right questions will tell you a few things.
- Why do you think I need this operation?
- Are there other alternative options to surgery to consider?
- What would happen if I chose not to have surgery?
- What are the risks and dangers of this surgery?
- Will the operation completely improve my condition or will I still have problems?
- Will there be negative changes to my body as a direct result of the surgery?
- Are you 100% confident that surgery is my only option?
If you can, get these answers from your doctor.
It is Your Decision
The bottom line is, it is your decision. Even if you cannot find any other option but surgery, there is nothing wrong with getting a second opinion to ensure that it’s the right option for you. Often if you are having trouble committing to the surgery, then hearing the same advice from another expert can confirm what you know and help you go ahead with that decision.
When should you get a second opinion? Often, you will want to consult another professional if there is any waver or if there are any other treatment options. Bottom line – it is your decision.
The sinuses are a series of inter-connected, hollowed spaces in the skull. Their walls are lined with mucus-secreting membranes. Small hairs sweep the mucus out of the sinuses so it can drain out through your nose. These mucus membranes may become infected or inflamed because of a cold or allergies, and can swell up and block the nasal passages so that fluid from the sinuses can’t drain. Buildup of fluid in the sinuses causes pressure and pain. Doctors call this sinusitis.
Acute sinusitis comes on quickly and then leaves. With chronic sinusitis, people have symptoms virtually all the time, and take many courses of medications such as antibiotics to treat the inflammation. Severe sinusitis may require surgical opening of the passageways with rigid steel instruments placed up through the nostril to remove bone and tissue blocking the drainage.
To learn more, check out our section on [Balloon Sinuplasty].
If your doctor has scheduled you for an operation, you are probably already wondering what’s it like to have surgery?
For most people, just the thought of having surgery can be stressful. You can reduce much of your anxiety by learning what to expect both during surgery and recovery afterwards.
- Inpatient surgery: Done in a hospital, inpatient surgery requires you to stay overnight for one or more days to allow the doctors and nurses to monitor your condition.
- Outpatient (also known as ambulatory) surgery: This is done in an outpatient clinic or hospital. You will be able to go home on the day of the surgery.
In general, when you have surgery, you can expect the following steps, although outpatient surgeries may not involve all of these.
When you arrive at the hospital or clinic for your surgery, you will be asked to provide information about your:
- health insurance
- medical history
- current pain or symptoms.
A nurse will take your vital signs, such as your blood pressure, heart rate and temperature. You may also need to have other tests, like X-rays or blood tests.
You will be given a paper or plastic bracelet to wear that allows hospital staff to identify you easily.
Often, you will not be allowed to eat or drink anything for several hours before you have surgery. Food or liquid in your stomach can increase the risk of complications, or cause vomiting during or after surgery.
For most surgeries, some type of medicine (anesthesia or anesthetics) is used to make you fall asleep or to numb part of your body so you don’t feel it during surgery.
These medicines are given before your surgery, and include:
- General anesthesia: This will make you unconscious during the surgery. If this is used, an anesthesiologist (a doctor or nurse) will monitor you during the surgery and adjust the medicines, if needed.
- Local anesthetic: These are used to numb the area of the body where the surgery will be done. You may also be given a drug that doesn’t put you to sleep but will make you drowsy.
The hospital staff will prepare (also called “prep”) you for having surgery. This includes:
- Cleaning or shaving (if needed) the part of your body that will be operated on.
- Asking you to remove your jewelry, hair ties and contact lenses.
- Providing you with a hospital gown to wear (instead of your clothing).
- Having an IV (intravenous) line inserted in your arm by a nurse. This is attached to a bag of fluid and is used to give you anesthetics, fluids or medicines needed during surgery.
- Hooking you up to equipment that monitors your blood pressure and heart rate.
In the operating room, you may notice that the doctors and nurses are all wearing protective clothing. This includes masks, gowns, caps, booties and plastic eyeglasses. These are worn to reduce your chance of getting an infection during surgery.
In some hospitals or clinics, medical or nursing students may be present in the room during your surgery. They are there to watch and learn the procedure.
Recovery After Surgery
After surgery, you will be taken to a recovery room (also known as the postoperative room, or post-op). Your condition will be monitored by nurses for up to a few hours, depending upon the type of surgery.
When you wake up from the general anesthesia, you may feel confused, groggy, nauseated, chilly, or even sad. When you are fully awake, the surgeon will meet with you to tell you how the surgery went.
If you experience any pain after surgery, you will be given pain medications (either pills or in your IV line). You may also be given antibiotics to reduce your chance of infection.
If you are staying overnight in the hospital, you will be brought to a hospital room, where nurses will monitor your condition until it is time for you to leave.
In the days and weeks leading up to your surgery, you will need to start preparing yourself, both mentally and physically. Any surgery can be stressful, but with enough preparation, much of your anxiety will go away.
One of the best ways to prepare yourself for surgery is by learning about the surgical procedure and asking questions of your doctor. Well-informed patients are often more satisfied with the results of their surgery. Before you arrive at the hospital:
- Meet with your doctor and anesthesiologist. Some hospitals include this as part of the pre-operative assessment.
- Ask many questions of your doctor and anesthesiologist, such as about the risk of complications, healing time, type of anesthesia that will be used and the best ways to speed your recovery.
Attending Your Pre-Operative Assessment
Many hospitals require that you meet with a doctor or nurse before your surgery—either in person or over the phone—one or more days before your operation. During this meeting, you will be asked about:
- Your health
- Your medical history
- Results of previous tests
- Medications, vitamins and herbal supplements that you are taking.
You may also be required to have pre-surgery blood tests. Be sure to follow any directions that your doctor gives you, such as fasting before surgery, when to stop taking your usual medications and what to bring with you.
Fasting Before Surgery
You may be required to stop drinking or eating before your surgery. It’s important that you follow your doctor’s instructions because having food or liquid in your stomach can cause you to vomit during or after surgery.
Packing For Your Trip
Pack an overnight bag with the essentials, such as:
- Nightgown or pajamas
- Day clothes and clean underwear
- Toiletries, including razor and travel-sized bath products
- Books or magazines
- Small amount of money
- Your usual medications
Bring loose-fitting clothes to wear after your surgery. Button-down shirts will be easier to put on than pullovers. Pants with elastic bands may be more comfortable after surgery.
Getting To and From the Hospital
After surgery, you may not feel well enough to drive yourself home. Make arrangements with your friends or family beforehand. Some hospitals may provide assistance with transportation after surgery.
Preparing Your Home for Recovery
When you arrive home after your surgery, the last thing you want to do is worry about shopping for food or cleaning your house. Stock up on healthy foods, buy extra personal hygiene products and medical supplies, and change the linens on your bed.
Take care of these things before your surgery, or ask a friend or family member to help you during your recovery. This may include asking someone to stay at your house to keep an eye on you.
Living a Healthy Lifestyle
Having a healthy lifestyle can speed your recovery after surgery, and reduce the complications and pain associated with surgery. Make changes to your life before surgery, as soon as possible:
- Eat healthier: increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, cut back on foods high in saturated fats and reduce your intake of processed meats.
- Exercise more: Most guidelines suggest at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week.
- Reduce your alcohol intake (or stop completely) at least 1 month before surgery. Alcohol can interact with anesthesia and cause excessive bleeding or liver damage.
- Stop smoking at least 2 weeks before surgery. Smoking increases the risk of infection and surgery complications. Quitting before surgery can also help you heal faster.
Dr. Paul Niolet is board certified in Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics, and Internal Medicine practicing at the Sinuplasty Center of Excellence in Ocean Springs, MS. Specializing in allergy treatment, Dr. Niolet knows the crucial step is proper diagnosis. It involves deciding whether the patient’s symptoms are caused by an allergy and, if so, determining what triggers the allergy as accurately as possible. The resulting diagnosis will target the appropriate treatment or clinical intervention to allow avoidance of the allergic trigger which will help to eliminate or minimize symptoms. Treatments can include:
Control of Symptoms
These treatments can be self-administered and do not necessarily need to be based on an accurate diagnosis. Examples include the use of over the counter medications such as antihistamine creams and steroid creams for eczema and antihistamine pills for nasal symptoms that include rhinitis.
This approach is used mainly for allergies caused by food, drugs, venom, latex and animal dander. This can also include occupational allergies, and to a lesser extent, depending on the suspected cause, asthma, rhinitis and eczema.
This approach is often part of an individual’s emergency self-treatment plan for acute attacks such as for acute tongue swelling or anaphylaxis that can result from insect bites
To learn more, check out our section on [Allergy Services].