FACTS & QUESTIONS

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a disease of chronic bronchial tube inflammation characterized by swelling of the mucosal lining, increased mucous production, and constriction of the smooth muscle surrounding the tube.


Allergic Rhinitis: ‘Hayfever’

Allergic Rhinitis is congestion of the membranes that line the nose. The swelling is triggered by allergens such as pollens, grasses, trees, weeds, molds, animal dander, dust and dust mites. It is diagnosed by allergy skin testing. Symptoms may include sneezing, itching, watery, runny nose, nasal congestion, sore throat, and post nasal drip.

Symptoms may come and go or may be continuous. It is generally worse in the spring and fall allergy season. Nasal polyps and recurrent sinus infections can be common complications.

Treatment may involve avoidance of known allergy triggers, medications, and immunotherapy (allergy shots).


Vasomotor Rhinitis

Vasomotor rhinitis mimics allergic rhinitis, but is NOT caused by allergic triggers. It is caused by irritants. Allergy skin testing may be negative or minimally positive. Triggers may include irritants such as weather changes, exposure to cigarette smoke, or strong odors such as colognes, perfumes and chemicals.

Symptoms may include nasal congestion and post nasal drip. Unlike hayfever, which usually is worse in fall and spring, this condition usually occurs year round.

Treatment is often difficult. Vasomotor rhinitis is often frustrating and it appears to rarely resolve by itself. Avoiding irritants and using nasal washes and medications can be helpful.


Sinusitis

Sinusitis (sinus infection) is a common condition caused by a bacterial infection of the sinus cavities in the head if they are not draining adequately. When the nose or sinuses become inflamed, they swell up and block the sinuses from draining. The most common triggers that cause blockage are viral infection and common allergic triggers.

Symptoms may include thick yellow or green nasal discharge that persists for 5 or more days, a dry cough or facial / teeth pain. Headache and fever are most likely due to an underlying virus. The best method to diagnose a sinus infection is with an x-ray, or CAT scan. A diagnosis can sometimes be made by symptoms and physical exam alone. If you have a history of frequent sinus infections a follow-up x-ray may be needed.

Treatment may include several medications, such as antibiotics, decongestants, nasal washes, and prescrption nasal sprays to reduce inflammation. Even after treating a sinus infection, it is possible for it to reoccur. It may be necessary to consult an ENT if the infection persists. ( Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist)


Nasal Polyp

A nasal polyp is a sack of inflamed tissue that grows out from the sinuses or nasal passages and blocks the nose from draining. If you are told you have or may have polyps, it is important to avoid aspirin products. They can make the polyps worse.

Symptoms may include loss of smell, loss of taste, and nasal stuffiness.

Treatment may include medications and sometimes surgery to remove polyps if medications are not successful. With good treatment they can be adequately controlled.


Deviated Nasal Septum

A deviated nose septum means that the thin bone in the middle of the nose is crooked or bent. Many people have a slightly deviated septum: however, it does not bother them. Some people have a more deviated septum that can lead to nasal plugging, snoring, sinus pressure, or inability to breathe through the nose.

Treatment may involve management of allergies and sinus infections. Most people with a deviated septum DO NOT require surgery; however, those people with persistant nasal obstruction, sinus infections, or snoring may benefit from an evaluation by an ENT. ( Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist)