Up and down the Willamette Valley, people are sneezing and coughing.
The fertile beauty of the valley comes with a price: excessive pollen production in the springtime.
But it turns out your symptoms might not be related to allergies at all.
Spring is well underway now in Oregon and across the U.S.
Unfortunately, many people are experiencing the seasonal onslaught of springtime allergies…or at least they think they are.
In many cases, the symptoms attributed to allergies are actually the result of chronic sinus infections.
Learning to tell them apart can result in quicker relief.
Distinguishing Between Allergies & Sinus Infections
Somewhere between 40-50 million Americans experience seasonal allergies.
Salem residents complain of itchiness in the eyes, nose and throat; watery eyes; nasal congestion; runny nose; coughing; sneezing; hoarseness; post-nasal drip; irritability and fatigue.
These are your body’s defense mechanism against allergens.
But these symptoms are also very similar to those associated with sinusitis, a chronic infection of the sinuses that affects 37 million Americans every year.
If efforts at treating your symptoms have failed to bring relief, it may be that you have misdiagnosed yourself.
Short of paying a visit to a Salem ear, nose and throat specialist, the best way to determine the cause of your symptoms is to take note of when and how often you experience them.
If you are allergic to something, symptoms usually come on shortly after contact and are more likely to occur during the spring or fall.
Pollen, molds and animal dander are the most common allergy triggers.
If your symptoms appear soon after you’ve recovered from a cold or allergies, it’s likely you are suffering from sinusitis.
In addition to the above-listed symptoms, sinusitis is often accompanied by facial pain and pressure.
Allergies are less severe during certain weather conditions (such as rainy days) and when you remain inside the home, while sinusitis symptoms aren’t likely to let up and often persist for longer than 12 weeks.
Symptom Relief for Sinusitis and Allergies
Your Salem ENT says the first line of defense against allergies is to try over-the-counter drugs first.
If these do not prove helpful, stronger prescription medications may be required.
In the even that even these don’t provide relief, immunotherapy – a long-term treatment designed to help your body build up a tolerance to the offending allergen – might be advised.
Allergy shots or drugs help many Oregonians with allergies develop immunity, but they take time – three to five years to become fully effective, on average.
OTC medications are also suggested early on for sinusitis sufferers. Antihistamines, decongestants, nasal sprays and corticosteroids can all help reduce the severity of symptoms.
Home remedies such as warm compresses and humidifiers may also help bring relief.
If Sinus Treatment is Ineffective
When these treatments prove ineffective, your best bet may be surgery.
There are two common surgical sinus procedures; the type recommended for you will depend upon the severity of your symptoms and whether or not you have any structural issues (nasal polyps, deviated septum) that are contributing to your problems.
Functional endoscopic sinus surgery, or FESS, involves insertion of a thin, flexible tool outfitted with a tiny camera lens into your nasal passages.
Images are transmitted to your surgeon, who will remove any blockages that are causing obstruction.
Balloon Sinuplasty is a less-invasive procedure that doesn’t require cutting or removal of tissue or bone.
A catheter with an affixed balloon is guided into the nasal cavity and gently inflated.
This widens the cavity and allows accumulated fluids to drain.
If “allergies” have got you down this spring and medications aren’t providing relief, contact your Salem ENT doctor for an appointment.
They’ll be able to provide you with a firm diagnosis and a treatment solution to ease your suffering.
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