Sinus and Allergy Tips

1.  How do I know if I have a sinus infection?

Sinus infections affect approximately 37 million Americans each year, and are especially common in the winter months. Crowds, dry air, too-busy lifestyles, cold and flu epidemics and fatigue from long hours at work can all contribute to the problem. If undiagnosed or under-treated, sinusitis can become chronic.
You could suffer from sinusitis if you have:
• A cold that is much more severe than usual_
• Facial pain or severe headaches
• Prolonged, colored nasal drainage
• Severe nasal congestion
• Fever and weakness
Acute sinusitis often lasts longer than 10 days and typically causes more symptoms than an ordinary cold.
If you think you have a sinus infection, call Coastal Sinus and Allergy Center today. We can help you make relief a reality!

2. Viral infection or Allergy?

Viral rhinitis (colds), sinus infections, and allergies can have similar symptoms.  Viral rhinitis typically has symptoms that worsen over 5 days, and by 10 – 14 days are resolving.  If symptoms are not improving by 10 days, a bacterial sinus infection may be the cause. Allergy symptoms are more prolonged, or have predictable triggers or seasons. When in doubt, or if you are not a better by two weeks, come see us at the Coastal Sinus and Allergy Center, so we can help you achieve relief of your symptoms.

3. Treatment of Chronic Sinusitis

Chronic sinusitis is defined as an ongoing infection of the sinuses lasting more than 3 months.  People sometimes have sinus infection symptoms that last for many years.  Chronic sinusitis requires more intensive treatment than short term sinus infections.  Sometimes sinus surgery is even required to resolve chronic infections.  With few exceptions, aggressive medical therapy, termed "maximum medical therapy", should be tried before sinus surgery is considered.  Maximum medical therapy is most commonly considered a 3-4 week course of an appropriate antibiotic, while on a nasal steroid spray.   If the therapy sufficiently relieves symptoms, then the nasal steroid spray is usually continued long term.  If the maximum therapy does not relieve the symptoms, or if the symptoms return after stopping the antibiotics, then surgical options are sometimes necessary.  Dr. Leatherman (an ear, nose and throat specialist in Gulfport, MS) is a nationally recognized expert in inflammatory disorders of the nose and sinuses, and can help you obtain relief from your chronic sinus and allergy symptoms.

4. Fall Allergy Season

As the summer comes to an end, the temperatures will to begin to fall and the new found cooler weather makes being outside more pleasant for most people.  For others, it marks the beginning of bothersome allergy symptoms that can significantly decrease the enjoyment of life and reduce work/school performance. Fall also brings about a busy time for the weeds in our environment as most weeds pollinate in the fall.  For those who suffer from weed pollen allergy, the fine layer of yellow/green pollen that falls upon the windows of our cars marks the beginning of an unpleasant time of year. The heavy amount of pollen in the air provokes symptoms of nasal congestion, runny nose, itchy nose, and sneezing. This may be accompanied by itchy, red, watery eyes. If you are one of the 20% of Americans who suffer from some sort of allergy, and you are allergic to weed pollen, it is time to start preparing for the allergy season. Proper allergy treatment involves avoidance of allergens, treatment with medications, and sometimes immunotherapy. Although it is not usually possible to completely avoid exposure to weed pollens, there are some simple things you can do to reduce your exposure, and hopefully reduce the amount symptoms you experience.  Try to avoid being outside when pollen counts are especially high.  Daily local/regional pollen counts can often be found on many websites with a simple internet search.  Even though the mild temperatures make it tempting to keep the windows open to enjoy the fresh air, those who suffer from pollen allergies should avoid keeping their car or house windows open so that pollen does not come into the interior areas. When you have been outside during high pollen times, it may be helpful to change clothes and shower off when coming back into the house. This will avoid bringing pollens in with you. Pets can also transmit pollens into your house.   It may be worthwhile to wipe them down with a wet cloth after they have been outside during high pollen times before bringing them into the house.

Many great medications for allergies that were previously available by prescription only have now become available over-the-counter. The cost of these medications has dropped significantly.   Most of the major prescription brand names of non-sedating antihistamines are now available over-the-counter. Examples of these include: Zyrtec, Claritin, Allegra, and the off-brands of all of these medicines. A prescription eyedrop (ketotifen) is now available over-the-counter as well. These medications can all be used daily, or only as-needed if the person does not have daily symptoms. One of the best recent developments is the availability of over-the-counter nasal steroid sprays. Nasal steroid sprays are by far the most effective medicine class for nasal allergies. Even though they are sprayed in the nose, these medications have also been shown to decrease eye allergy symptoms as well. They are particularly good for people who have persisting allergy symptoms.  Nasal steroid sprays need to be used daily, so they are not really good for as needed medications for occasional symptoms.  In the early part of 2014, the FDA decided to allow a nasal steroid spray to be sold over-the-counter.  The available over-the-counter nasal steroid spray (Nasacort) can be obtained for as little as $13 a month, at one major retail store (Sam’s), but can cost up to $25 a month at other stores. I suspect other brands of nasal steroid sprays will soon enter the over-the-counter market as well, which will likely drive prices even lower.