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Your head is throbbing, nose is plugged and the amount of pollen in the air is staggering. Yes, another sinus infection. Or maybe not?

Recent studies show that the majority of those who suffer symptoms such as plugged noses, sinus pressure, itchy and watery eyes and fatigue often self-diagnose and get it wrong. Which means the condition is treated incorrectly and their quality of life is negatively affected. Thankfully, there are highly-trained physicians that perform specialized testing on patients with allergy and sinus-related symptoms to properly diagnose and treat. In other words, leave it to the pros if you want to feel better.

Daniel Todd, MD at Midwest Ear, Nose and Throat, has 20 years working with sinus, allergy and nose surgery patients. Even after two decades of experience and emerging advances in health care, he still says people don't know where to turn with chronic nasal symptoms. He adds that one of the reasons is the fact there are a number of causes.  "Allergies are but a single cause of nasal symptoms," says Dr. Todd. "The nose is really the target organ and that is where we are most exposed in the environment." 

Winning the Battle by Knowing the Breakdown

Seasonal Allergies

Clues that allergies are playing a role are when symptoms are seasonal or regional. "Sufferers will experience problems every fall when irritants such as ragweed are prevalent. Another indicator is when patients have symptoms only in one area but feel great when traveling to places with differing climates," explains Dr. Todd. Common complaints are sinus congestion accompanied by watery or itchy eyes that can last several weeks.

Sinus Infections of Sinusitis

Unlike seasonal allergies, chronic sinus infections or sinusitis can occur at anytime, anywhere. "When dealing with sinus pain, there are lots of irritants that cause nasal congestion and symptoms but may not turn out to be an actual allergy." He goes on to explain that there are also an endless number of individual physical abnormalities that can contribute to nasal symptoms such as a deviated septum, swollen glands, polyps or even a crooked or twisted nose. Patients will likely experience facial tenderness, congestion or pressure and pain behind the eyes and forehead.

Time to Treat

Thankfully, whether sinus or allergy, there's a variety of treatments. "Most primary physicians can properly diagnose and treat," says Dr. Todd. Common base-line therapies include saline irrigation and topical steroid sprays, which can now be purchased easily over-the-counter. "Newer medications combine a steroid and antihistamine spray," he adds of recent developments.

But when those therapies do not produce results, more sophisticated allergy testing is advised to evaluate each person's anatomy.  One of the lesser invasive forms is an allergy pill, such as a grass pill, instead of shots. "We've been offering oral allergy therapy in the form of tongue drops for over a decade and have found it to be effective in adults and also children." So whether it's an allergy patient that needs same day skin testing and allergy shots or a nasal cancer patients that require extensive surgery, getting the correct diagnosis and course of treatment will get allergy and sinus sufferers back on their feet and enjoying life.

By Jennifer Dumke: Sioux Falls Woman Magazine

Midwest Ear, Nose & Throat
2315 West 57th Street  •  Sioux Falls, South Dakota 57108  •  605-336-3503  •  Toll-free 888-336-3503  •  Fax 605-336-6010