Mississippi Valley Health Network

For Release: March 15, 2012

Family Health:
The Nose Knows

If you’re being treated for sinus problems two or three times a season, it may be time to see a specialist, according to QC Otolaryngologist Ralph R. Tyner, MD.

(Davenport, IA) – Breathing, blowing, smelling and sneezing are, to most people, the nose’s main functions.

Any of them can be more difficult when the sinuses are inflamed and can’t drain properly. Commonly, a cold will stuff up an adult’s nose two or three times a year, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology. And of course, allergies can also clog the works, especially when pollen counts head upward in the spring and summer months.

Signs You Need to See a Specialist
Board certified Otolaryngologist Ralph R. Tyner, M.D, ENT Professional Services, Davenport, says there are definitive signs that sinus sufferers may need to see a specialist. “If you’ve been treated for a sinus problem two or three times in a row; your symptoms have been present for longer than 10-12 days; and you have increasing pain above, between or behind the eyes or behind the cheekbones, you may need to see a specialist,” he advises.

Unfortunately, many people treat those symptoms with over-the-counter medications and never see a physician because sinusitis symptoms are quite similar to common colds and seasonal allergies, reports the American Academy of Otolaryngology – that means the number of people affected may in fact be significantly higher. “But for most chronic sinus-related problems, we have advanced medical and surgical treatments that can really improve people’s quality of life,” says Dr. Tyner.

The Academy estimates 35 million people develop bacterial sinusitis each year – one of the serious, chronic conditions requiring specialized treatments – making it one of the most common U.S. health problems. Bacterial sinusitis can be a quite serious matter, requiring specialized treatments that may include antibiotics and even advanced surgical procedures.

Structural defects in the nose and sinuses can also reduce a person’s ability to breath and smell. The Academy suggests that you look for these signs of a potential structural defect 1) breathing mainly through your mouth; 2) only one side of your nose is blocked; 3) you have a crooked or injured nose; 4) you snore loudly.

Blockages and obstructions can be surgically cleared through functional endoscopic surgery, which uses a miniature fiberoptic camera (the endoscope) so the specialist can conduct a minimally invasive surgery. “We are more conservative than those surgeons who scrape sinuses to fully remove damaged linings,” says Dr. Tyner. “The functional endoscopic surgery we perform removes the blockage from sinus pathways so the linings can resume normal function and most of the time these procedures can be done without nasal packing.”

The more common structural conditions include growths that can block drainage (polyps), malformed ridges that warm and moisten your breath (turbinates), and a misaligned division between the nose’s two halves (deviated septum).

Sidebar: Is it a cold, an allergy or worse?

Trees and flowers in the Quad Cities are in bloom, but pollen can wreak havoc on the nose and sinuses. Here are some basic guidelines to help you tell the difference between colds, spring allergies and chronic sinusitis.

Signs & Symptoms Sinusitis Allergy Cold
Facial Pressure/Pain Yes Sometimes Sometimes
Duration of Illness 10-14 days Varies 10 days
Nasal Discharge Thick yellow/green Clear, thin, watery Thick, whitish or thin
Fever Sometimes No Sometimes
Pain in Upper Teeth Sometimes No No
Coughing Yes Sometimes Yes
Nasal Congestion Yes Sometimes Yes
Sneezing No Sometimes Yes

Source: American Academy of Otolaryngology

ENT Professional Services, P.C.
3385 Dexter Court; Suite 101
Davenport, IA 52807

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Many people treat the symptoms of bacterial sinusitis with over-the-counter medications because those symptoms are similar to common colds and seasonal allergies. An estimated 35 million people a year suffer from sinusitis.

Ear exam conducted by an ENT Specialist

Otolaryngologist Ralph R. Tyner, M.D., ENT Professional Services, Davenport