Allergies are extremely common in the US. It is estimated that 10-30% of adults and 30-60 million individuals in the US annually are affected by the symptoms of allergies.
Allergic rhinitis is the medical term for hay fever. It is an allergic reaction to pollen, pet hair, dust, or mold and other environmental allergens that feels like a chronic cold. Your nose becomes inflamed and your immune system overreacts to allergens in the air. Symptoms include nasal congestion, a clear runny or stuffy nose, itchy eyes and nose, sneezing, and watery eyes. You can also experience a cough from post nasal drip in addition to loss of smell and taste.
The front line treatments for allergies are nasal sprays and pills, i.e., Flonase, Nasonex, Allegra, Claritin. But, what happens when medicines fail? What if you’ve had nasal surgery and still suffer from stuffy nose, post nasal drip or a runny nose? There is an office-based and minimally invasive solution.
In-office Treatment of the Inferior Turbinates
Inside your nose, there are 3 turbinates: the middle, nasal, and inferior turbinates. Think of them as radiators for the nose. Each of them is responsible for conditioning the air that you inhale by humidifying, heating and filtering it. The most important turbinate is the inferior turbinate. Mucous membranes cover the inferior turbinate (and the other turbinates) and can swell or shrink in response to physiological or environmental change. All individuals have turbinate dysfunction at some point in their lives.
Causes of Turbinate Dysfunction
Swelling (hypertrophy) of the inferior turbinate can occur as a result of:
- Changes in temperature
- Environmental irritants (chemicals)
- Upper respiratory infection (URI)
- Allergic rhinitis
- Vasomotor rhinitis
- Drugs or hormones
Oftentimes, swelling is reversible. Persistent swelling, however, can become chronic and results in turbinate hypertrophy.
Symptoms of Turbinate Hypertrophy
When the inferior turbinates become inflamed and enlarged, they can cause the following symptoms:
- Total nasal obstruction (congestion, trouble breathing)
- Mild congestion
- Rhinorrhea (runny nose)
- Post nasal drip
- Chronic nosebleeds (sometimes a result of a deviated septum)
- Chronic sinus infections
BergerHenry’s Treatment of Turbinate Hypertrophy
BergerHenry ENT Specialty Group uses the Turbinator Wand as a surgical technique to reduce the size of the inferior turbinate while preserving its natural lining to preserve function.
The procedure to reduce swelling of the inferior turbinate is minimally invasive and performed in the office. The patient’s nose is numbed so the patient is comfortable without the need for IV or sedation. Patients can drive themselves to the office and drive themselves home afterward.
What to Expect After Turbinate Hypertrophy Treatment
Patients should expect a degree of stuffiness and congestion during the healing period but results have proven a reduction in runny nose, post nasal drip, nasal congestion, nosebleeds, infections, and snoring.
Q: Will this procedure cure my allergies?
A: Patients experience a varied level of relief from symptoms, ranging from decreased symptoms to “it changed my life.”
Q: Will I still need allergy medicines after the procedure?
A: Your need for medicines may be less than before the procedure and, in many cases, not needed at all.
Q: Will I be awake during the procedure?
A: Yes. You will be numbed and comfortable during the procedure.
Q: Will I need an IV?
A: No. Because of the thorough numbing process, the procedure is completely comfortable with the convenience of being awake.
Q: Will I need a ride home?
A: No. You may drive yourself to and from the office-based procedure. Sometimes, at the patient’s request, we admit an oral sedative which would require that you get a ride home.