The nose is a surprisingly complex sensory organ responsible for a multitude of functions. In addition to olfaction (the sense of smell), it helps humidify, warm, and filter inhaled air and removes potentially harmful chemicals that can damage the respiratory system. In addition, sensory cells in the nose work in tandem with the taste buds to help us detect flavors. Our experienced team at Bartlesville ENT wants to ensure your nose is working as well as possible, and offers treatment for a variety of diseases and conditions that affect the nose and sinuses. The following section details common problems of the nose and discusses treatments and procedures we utilize to improve your health and leave you feeling better.
Hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, is a seasonal condition in which a foreign substance causes an exaggerated immune system response resulting in nasal congestion, runny nose, itchy or watery eyes, sneezing, cough, sinus pressure and swollen, blue-tinted skin beneath the eyes (known as “allergic shiners”). Hay fever is most often caused by pollen, but can also occur in response to mold or pet dander. Treatment options for less severe allergy symptoms may include over-the-counter or prescription medications. More severe allergies may also require seasonal steroid injections and/or immunotherapy with either allergy shots or sublingual drops or tablets.
Nosebleeds are common, affecting roughly one out of ever seven people in the U.S. at some point during their lives. The vast majority result from broken blood vessels near the front of the nose and are not serious, but about 10% originate in the back of the nose; these are considered a medical emergency. Nosebleeds are most common during the winter months; triggers include cold or dry air, trauma, irritation and allergies. To stop a nosebleed, pinch the nose shut using your thumb and index finger and tilt your head forward slightly. Maintain this position for 10-15 minutes or until the bleeding stops. You may also try spraying your nose with a topical decongestant (e.g. Afrin or Neo-synephrine) to help stop nosebleeds.
Sinusitis (Sinus Infection)
Sinusitis, the medical term for a sinus infection, is one of the most common conditions in the U.S., affecting an estimated 37 million Americans annually. It may be acute (lasting a short duration) or chronic (persisting longer than 12 weeks). Sinusitis can be caused by viruses, bacteria, nasal polyps, deviated septum, allergies or trauma. Its cold-like symptoms include nasal congestion, discharge, postnasal drip, sore throat, sinus pressure and swelling, loss of smell and taste, headache, fever, fatigue and bad breath. Treatment options include nasal steroid sprays, antihistamines, decongestants, antibiotics or surgery, depending on the length and severity of the infection.
Nasal polyps are tiny noncancerous growths that form in the nasal passages or sinuses. Smaller ones often go unnoticed, but larger polyps may obstruct the sinuses and lead to infection or difficulty breathing. Your doctor may wish to monitor polyp growth to determine what type of treatment, if any, is needed. Left untreated, polyps often contribute to nasal obstruction, recurrent or chronic sinusitis, and sleep apnea.
The nasal septum is the “wall” of bone and cartilage that divides the left and right nostrils. When crooked or off center, it is referred to as a deviated septum. This is usually minor and often goes unnoticed, but severe cases can lead to breathing difficulties and sinus problems. A deviated septum may respond to medical treatment or a surgical procedure to remove excess bone and cartilage and reshape the nose. Minor deviations of the septum are common and rarely require treatment, but many or most moderate to severe deviations cause symptomatic obstruction and require surgery to restore normal breathing and drainage through the nose.
Balloon sinuplasty is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that can bring relief to patients suffering from chronic sinusitis. A balloon catheter is inserted through the nostrils and gently inflated, expanding the sinus cavity and relieving the symptoms of sinus infection. Unlike traditional sinus surgery, there is no removal of bone or tissue, and most patients can resume normal activities within a day or two.
Rhinitis, or inflammation of the nose, causes a variety of symptoms that affect the nasal passages, including congestion, runny nose, sneezing, itchiness, and postnasal drip. The condition is considered chronic when it lasts for three months or more. There are three types of rhinitis: allergic (the most common), non-allergic and mixed. Treatment will depend on what is causing your symptoms and might include medications or surgery.
A nasal fracture, or broken nose, is a common (and often painful) injury that often results from playing contact sports, falling or being involved in an accident. Because of its prominent position in the center of the face, the nose is the third most commonly broken bone in the body. A fracture can dramatically change your appearance and lead to difficulty breathing. Minor nasal fractures may require no treatment other than rest, while more serious ones will need to be repositioned with a splint and bandages or surgically repaired.
Endoscopic Sinus Surgery
Endoscopic sinus surgery is a procedure for removing nasal obstructions or enlarging the sinus passages to help chronic sinusitis sufferers find relief from their symptoms. Fiberoptic telescopes, often with a camera attached, help your surgeon identify and remove excess tissue, polyps, and other blockages that obstruct the sinuses. Promoting drainage restores the normal function of the sinuses.
Nasal & Sinus Surgery
A number of nasal & sinus surgery procedures are performed for treating chronic diseases such as sinusitis, removing nasal polyps and other obstructions, improving drainage and opening the airways to promote easier breathing. The type of surgery your doctor recommends will vary based on the cause and severity of your problem; it may be a minimally invasive procedure such as balloon sinuplasty, or a more traditional operation.