Category: Sinus

Breathe Easier This Holiday Season with VivAer®

A woman standing by a Christmas tree with decorations tired, rubbing her nose and eyes, feeling nasal obstruction.

The holidays are full of joyful occasions like office parties, family get-togethers, and even cozy moments at home. The last thing you want is difficulty breathing, headaches, and fatigue while celebrating the most wonderful time of the year. We understand how challenging it can be to enjoy the festivities when you don’t feel your best.

If you suffer from difficulty breathing through your nose, fatigue, and headaches, you may have chronic nasal obstruction. Thankfully, VivAer® Nasal Airway remodeling is an innovative, non-invasive treatment designed to improve all your symptoms. In this blog, the team of experts at Excel ENT discusses all you need to know about VivAer® treatment and how it can help you.

What Are the Symptoms of Nasal Obstruction?

Nasal obstruction is caused by the enlargement, or swelling, of certain structures in the nose, like the septum, lateral wall, or turbinates. As these structures swell, the airway size becomes smaller, causing difficulty breathing. If you frequently have trouble breathing through your nose, you may have chronic nasal obstruction.

Some of the common symptoms of nasal obstruction include:

  • Trouble breathing through your nose
  • A sensation of something blocking your nasal passage
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Inability to breathe through your nose during exercise
  • Loud snoring
  • Facial pain or pressure
  • Headaches

If you are experiencing these symptoms, we recommend you contact your primary care doctor. Your primary physician can refer you to an otolaryngologist, also known as an ear, throat, and nose doctor (ENT), who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of nasal obstruction.

How Can VivAer® Help Nasal Obstruction?

The VivAer® Nasal Airway remodeling procedure is an innovative technology that expands nasal passages. This non-invasive, safe treatment can significantly improve your quality of life and allow you to breathe easier.

After numbing the inside of your nose with a local anesthetic, your doctor will insert a small wand into the nasal passage. The low-temperature radiofrequency energy (RF) on the wand’s tip gently expands and remodels damaged or shrunken tissues and valves. With this procedure, doctors can also shrink turbinates, soft bony structures that often swell during cases of nasal allergies. Just a slight increase in surface area with the help of VivAer® can create significant relief and improve airflow for those suffering from chronic nasal obstruction.

What Are the Benefits of VivAer® for Nasal Obstruction?

There are a variety of benefits of the VivAer® procedure, including:

  • Non-invasive procedure: VivAer® involves no cutting and doesn’t damage any surrounding areas.
  • Comfortable treatment: Most people feel minimal to zero discomfort. Some describe a feeling of pressure if anything.
  • Clinically Proven: Over a 2-year clinical study, 97% of patients experienced vast improvements in nasal breathing.
  • No downtime: This treatment is quick and painless, and most people return to regular activities the same day.
  • The outer appearance isn’t affected: As opposed to other nasal surgeries, VivAer® doesn’t alter the appearance of your nose in any way.

Who Is a Candidate for VivAer®?

If you suffer from chronic nasal obstruction, you are most likely a candidate for the VivAer® procedure. Candidates typically have found treatments like medications and nasal dilator strips to be ineffective. Your provider may suggest the Nasal Obstruction Symptom Evaluation (NOSE) test and the Cottle Maneuver test to confirm a diagnosis.

The Cottle Mannuever is a test you can do at home and involves placing two fingertips on your cheek next to each side of your nose, then gently pressing and pulling outward. If you find relief from your nasal passage expanding, VivAer® is likely an excellent treatment option. Depending on your specific condition, there may be other criteria, but your ENT can provide more information about whether VivAer® is suitable for you.

Find the Relief You Deserve from Nasal Obstruction

Don’t settle for another night of nasal airstrips or frustration while trying to breathe through your nose; contact a provider to learn if the VivAer® procedure is right for you. This non-invasive, comfortable treatment can expand your airway in just minutes. Find the relief you deserve, just in time for the holidays, at Excel ENT in Birmingham!

Excel ENT: Sinus Experts in Birmingham AL

If you are suffering from chronic nasal obstruction or another sinus ailment, contact the sinus experts at Excel ENT. With years of experience, Dr. Davis and his team are experts in nose, throat, and ear treatments. Call us at 205-988-6858 or contact us online to find the relief you deserve!

How To Deal With The Feeling That Something Is Stuck In Your Throat

Woman holding her throat and experiencing globus sensation.

There is nothing worse than the feeling that something is stuck in the back of your throat only to find there’s nothing physically there. This sensation, called globus sensation, can be alarming and frequently bothersome.

Most often, there’s no need to fret if you’re experiencing this feeling! Globus sensation is fairly common. Learn from our team at Excel ENT all about globus sensation and when it’s time to speak with a doctor.

What is Globus Sensation?

Globus sensation, also called globus pharyngeus, is the feeling of a blockage, or lump, in the back of the throat, even when there is no physical blockage. The condition used to be called globus hystericus, because doctors thought that people complaining of this sensation were “hysterical”. In today’s world, doctors are more knowledgeable about globus sensation. We now know that the symptoms are very real and that they can be caused by a physical or psychological issue in the body.

Globus sensation can be accompanied by soreness and swelling in the throat, persistent clearing of the throat, hoarseness, or a cough you just can’t shake. Globus sensation is a little different for everyone, and not all symptoms have to be present for the diagnosis of globus sensation.

What Causes Globus Sensation?

The most common causes of globus sensation are anxiety and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Usually, when a person holds back strong feelings or emotions, the sensation arises and becomes recurrent. Likewise, those dealing with GERD experience their stomach acid traveling up the food pipe and into the throat, which can cause globus sensation. Some other causes of globus sensation include medication side effects, enlarged thyroid gland, or cervical spondylitis. Other reasons for this sensation continue to be discovered, so if you’re experiencing a globus sensation, it’s never a bad idea to speak with a doctor.

How Can I Deal with Globus Sensation?

There isn’t a specific treatment for globus sensation, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have options to ease symptoms. We recommend speaking with your doctor about evaluations for reflux or other potential causes of globus sensation. It may also be worthwhile to speak with a speech therapist about other treatment options for relaxing your throat.

When you encounter symptoms of globus sensation, swallow with or without water, yawn with your mouth wide open, and move your jaw up and down to help with discomfort. Additionally, drinking more water can help relax your throat and decrease the feeling of a mass.

When Should I see a Doctor About the Feeling that there’s Something Stuck in my Throat?

The sensation of a large lump in the back of your throat can be frightening as well as aggravating. If you are feeling an unexplained lump in your throat, we recommend you see a doctor for evaluation. Your provider will use a flexible endoscope that is passed through the nose to examine your throat and be able to provide treatment if necessary.

Find Relief from Globus Sensation

Our physicians at Excel ENT can help evaluate your symptoms and create a treatment plan for many throat conditions, including the globus sensation. There may be an explanation for your discomfort, and our qualified team of professionals is ready to help you get the treatment you deserve. With years of experience, our team of otolaryngologists are knowledgeable about providing quality, effective care.

Heal Voice & Throat Conditions at Excel ENT

Proudly serving the Birmingham area, our team can provide treatment for a variety of ailments, specializing in ear, nose, and throat conditions. Call us at 205-988-6858 or contact us online to find relief today!

 

Cutting Edge Biologic Options for Sinus Problems

biologics

Over the years, we have made many strides in improving the way we are able to treat sinus issues. One common problem that has continued to be a challenge is treating chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyposis (nasal polyps). 

When it comes to these conditions, it is possible that the future of better disease control may involve the use of biologics, and we’re thrilled to have these new options for our patients at Excel ENT.

The Basics of Biologics

Biologic response modifiers are a class of medications that treat conditions such as nasal polyps by targeting specific components of an individual’s immune system. They can modify the chemical responses of the immune system that are causing inflammation thought to be responsible for the growth of nasal polyps.

Biologics are made from living cells. Unlike many other pharmaceutical drugs, they are not synthesized chemically or from plants. They also don’t typically come in the form of a tablet but as a solution that has to be injected.

Biologics can be antibodies, enzymes, hormones, or other types of biologic components or cells (even viruses). Vaccines and insulin are types of biologics that have been available for many years.

Dupixent (dupilumab) is a biologic approved for the treatment of nasal polyps in the U.S., and it’s one that we’ve been offering for a while at Excel ENT. Another new biologic option we have is called Nucala.

Things to Know About Biologics for Nasal Polyps

Focusing primarily on Dupixent, as it’s the biologic option we’ve been offering the longest, here are some of the details we want our patients to know about.

Administered via injection

Biologics involve an injection. We will teach you how to do this, and you will either give yourself a shot or have a family member give you the injection. While there may be some discomfort with this, it often decreases over time. Injection site reactions, such as pain, redness, or swelling can be easily treated using cold or hot pads and over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen.

Possible side effects

As with all medications, biologics used for the treatment of nasal polyps may have side effects that inhibit their use by certain individuals. As with almost all medications, it is possible to have a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Signs of this type of reaction may include swelling of the face and lips, difficulty swallowing, difficulty breathing, and wheezing.

When common side effects occur, they often improve on their own over time as you continue your treatment. These side effects might include injection site reactions, eye inflammation, increased white blood cell counts, sore throat, stomach problems, cold sores, joint pain, insomnia, and toothaches.

Not the best option for everyone

Dupixent is untested in individuals under the age of 6 for any use; it is approved only in individuals over the age of 18 for the treatment of nasal polyps. Women who are pregnant, those who wish to become pregnant, or those who are breastfeeding should not consider biologics for nasal polyps since they are also untested in these individuals. 

Your insurance might cover biologics

Your health insurance might require that you provide ample documentation if you are prescribed a biologic. We will work with you to provide any necessary documentation required by your insurance company. Even though there may be extra steps in the process, many companies ultimately cover the medications.

Additionally, many drug companies including the manufacturer of Dupixent offer assistance to people wanting to try new options. Copay cards or other programs may reduce the cost of the medication for individuals who apply.

Find Out If Biologics Are a Possibility for Treating Sinus Problems at Excel ENT of Alabama

Biologics are a cutting edge option that will only continue to grow when it comes to treating sinus problems, such as rhinosinusitis and nasal polyps. It’s a great option to consider, and Dr. Davis will work with you to determine if it’s a viable option in your case. Schedule an appointment online, or call to discuss coming in at a time that’s best for you: 205-988-6858.

All About Nasal Congestion

nasal congestion

There are two words we hear a lot at Excel ENT all year round, but especially during these cold winter months: “nasal congestion.” While it can be short lived, and it may resolve quickly without intervention, it often comes out of nowhere and it’s usually the first of many symptoms. 

Nasal congestion can be tricky though, because there are many causes. Our doctor, Dr. Davis, wants to help you figure out not only the cause, but also a treatment plan so that you can get back to living your life without a stuffy nose! 

Causes of Nasal Congestion

Nasal congestion, which many of us refer to as a “stuffy nose,” occurs when the blood vessels inside the nose (in addition to the adjacent tissues) become inflamed and swollen with excessive fluid. This fluid is what gives the nose the feeling of being “stuffy.”

Symptoms of nasal congestion include stuffy/runny nose, nasal pain, mucus buildup, and/or nasal swelling. There could be a number of issues causing your nasal congestion symptoms, including but not limited to:

  • Allergies
  • Benign tumors
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Common cold
  • Deviated septum
  • Flu
  • Hay fever
  • Nasal polyps
  • Sinus infection
  • Various irritants, like tobacco smoke

With so many possible causes, it is important to seek medical attention, especially if your symptoms have lasted several days without relief, or new symptoms have appeared. 

Treatments for Nasal Congestion: Home Remedies

A good place to start may be with home remedies. Some of our patients do find that these work to alleviate symptoms. 

  • Sleep with a humidifier at night. A humidifier adds moisture to the air, which can help break up mucus and soothe inflamed nasal passages. 
  • Place a warm cloth over your face.  This can also help sooth your nasal passages. You might also want to try this method while using pillows to prop your head up during the night, which can help you breathe easier. 
  • Take a hot shower. This can assist in clearing up your nasal congestion, as the steam from the shower can improve breathing by allowing the mucus to drain through the nose. 

Nasal Rinsing

Another great option you can do at home is nasal rinsing, which is the process of flushing your sinuses with a saline (saltwater) rinse. One of your nose’s primary functions is to filter air before it enters your lungs. The mucus lining your sinuses is vital to the filtration process. However, dryness and inflammation make it hard for mucus to drain, which leads to congestion and pressure. Nasal irrigation thins mucus and cleanses your nasal passages. The saline solution used in a rinse also helps restore moisture in dry sinuses. 

Performing a nasal rinse is simple, and we recommend the pre-measured sinus rinse packets from NeilMed that you mix with eight ounces of lukewarm distilled water. NeilMed offers several types of irrigation devices including squeeze bottles, a neti pot, and a battery-operated cordless pulsating nasal washer. Read more about how to perform a nasal rinse in this article.

Treatments for Nasal Congestion: When to See A Doctor

If home remedies don’t work, it may be time to see Dr. Davis so that he can give you a more specific diagnosis and treatment plan. This might include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Nasal spray, which includes an antihistamine 
  • Nasal steroid
  • Prescription-strength decongestants
  • Surgery, if caused by nasal polyps or tumors
  • Non-surgical treatment options

Nasal Polyps

For some people, the source of long-lasting congestion is nasal polyps. These are soft, painless, benign growths inside the nasal passages. When polyps are small, you may not know they’re there. However, polyps that grow in clusters can block the nasal passages and inhibit sinus drainage causing congestion.

Nasal polyps can develop in people of all ages, but they are most common in young adults and middle-age adults. Patients with prolonged inflammation from allergies, infections, or chronic sinusitis have an increased risk of developing obstructive nasal polyps. Unfortunately, polyps are a chronic problem. It’s likely that once they occur, they will persist throughout a patient’s life.

Treatment often starts with a nasal steroid spray to reduce polyp inflammation, and we may also recommend nasal rinses, but these are temporary solutions. The next option is surgical removal of the polyps, also known as sinus surgery. 

We are excited that we have a new sinus implant called SINUVA, which is a nonsurgical treatment option if a patient’s polyps return after surgery. This innovative treatment involves a sinus implant made of bioabsorbable polymers. It delivers an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid right into the polyps. The medicine shrinks the polyps, opening a patient’s airway and allowing better sinus drainage.

Address Nasal Congestion with Excel ENT of Alabama

Nasal congestion is common, but it shouldn’t be long-lasting. If you are experiencing persistent congestion, we’d love to help you find the cause and make a treatment plan. We are always happy to answer questions about nasal congestion and any other ear, nose, and throat issues. Schedule an appointment online, or call to discuss coming in at a time that’s best for you: 205-988-6858.

The Driving Force Behind All Sinus Issues: Inflammation

sinus inflammation

Many patients often wonder WHY they continue to have sinus problems. What’s the root cause and the driving force behind sinus headaches, drainage, congestion, and pain? The answer is inflammation, and knowing what this means will result in a better overall understanding of your sinus issues.

More About Sinus Inflammation

Chronic sinusitis occurs when the spaces inside your nose and head (sinuses) are swollen and inflamed for three months or longer, despite treatment.

This common condition interferes with the way mucus normally drains, and makes your nose stuffy. Breathing through your nose may be difficult, and the area around your eyes might feel swollen or tender.

Chronic sinusitis can be brought on by an infection, by growths in the sinuses (nasal polyps), or by swelling of the lining of your sinuses. Also called chronic rhinosinusitis, the condition can affect both adults and children.

Common signs and symptoms of chronic sinusitis include:

  • Nasal inflammation
  • Thick, discolored discharge from the nose (runny nose)
  • Drainage down the back of the throat (postnasal drainage)
  • Blocked or stuffy (congested) nose causing difficulty breathing through your nose
  • Pain, tenderness and swelling around your eyes, cheeks, nose, or forehead
  • Reduced sense of smell and taste

Other less common signs and symptoms can include:

  • Ear pain
  • Headache
  • Aching in your upper jaw and teeth
  • Cough or throat clearing
  • Sore throat
  • Bad breath
  • Fatigue

Chronic sinusitis and acute sinusitis have similar signs and symptoms. However, acute sinusitis is a temporary infection of the sinuses often associated with a cold. The signs and symptoms of chronic sinusitis last at least 12 weeks, but you may have several episodes of acute sinusitis before developing chronic sinusitis. 

Many things can cause inflammation that leads to sinus issues, such as:

  • Deviated nasal septum — A crooked septum, the wall between the nostrils, may restrict or block sinus passages, making the symptoms of sinusitis worse.
  • Respiratory tract infections — These types of infections are most commonly colds, and they can inflame and thicken your sinus membranes and block mucus drainage. These infections can be viral, bacterial, or fungal.
  • Nasal polyps — These are painless, benign growths inside the nasal passages. Prolonged inflammation and swelling of the sinuses from infection and allergies may increase your likelihood of developing polyps.
  • Allergies — Inflammation that occurs with allergies can block your sinuses. 
  • Regular exposure to pollutants — Tobacco smoke and air contaminants can irritate and inflame your lungs and nasal passages.

How Inflammation Causes Sinus Symptoms

Pain in your sinuses — Pain is a common symptom of sinusitis. You have several different sinuses above and below your eyes as well as behind your nose. Any of these can hurt when you have a sinus infection because inflammation and swelling cause your sinuses to ache with a dull pressure. You may feel pain in your forehead, on either side of your nose, in your upper jaws and teeth, or between your eyes. This may lead to a headache.

Nasal discharge — When you have a sinus infection, you may need to blow your nose often because of nasal discharge, which can be cloudy, green, or yellow. This discharge comes from your infected sinuses and drains into your nasal passages. The discharge may also bypass your nose and drain down the back of your throat. You may feel a tickle, an itch, or even a sore throat. This is called postnasal drip, and it may cause you to cough at night when you’re lying down to sleep and in the morning after getting up. It may also cause your voice to sound hoarse.

Nasal congestion — Your inflamed sinuses may also restrict how well you can breathe through your nose. Infections cause swelling in your sinuses and nasal passages. Because of the nasal congestion, you probably won’t be able to smell or taste as well as normal. Your voice may sound “stuffy.”

Sinus headaches — The ongoing pressure, swelling, and inflammation in your sinuses can give you symptoms of a headache. Sinus pain can also give you earaches, dental pain, and pain in your jaws and cheeks. Sinus headaches are often at their worst in the morning because fluids have been collecting all night long. Your headache can also get worse when the barometric pressure of your environment changes suddenly.

Throat irritation and cough — As the discharge from your sinuses drains down the back of your throat, it can cause irritation, especially over a long period of time. This can lead to a persistent and annoying cough that can make sleeping difficult. Sleeping upright or with your head elevated can help reduce the frequency and intensity of your coughing.

Sore throat and hoarse voice — Post nasal drip can leave you with a raw and aching throat. Although it may start as an annoying tickle, it can get worse. If your infection lasts for a few weeks or more, the mucus can irritate and inflame your throat as it drips, resulting in a painful sore throat and hoarse voice.

How to Lessen Inflammation & Improve Sinus Issues

Avoiding things that irritate your nose and sinuses can help decrease sinusitis. While this is not always possible, there are several lifestyle changes and at-home strategies you can try, such as:

  • Using a cool-mist humidifier
  • Nasal rinsing several times per day
  • Wearing a pollen mask when mowing the grass or cleaning the house
  • Keeping windows closed when pollen counts are high
  • Using HEPA filters in your vacuum
  • Changing heating and air conditioning filters often
  • Avoiding nasal irritants, such as smoke, perfume, aerosol sprays, smoke, smog, and car exhaust
  • Washing bedding often; ideally weekly in hot water

Treatments for Sinus Issues at Excel ENT

If you have had sinusitis several times, and the condition doesn’t respond to treatment; if you have sinusitis symptoms that last more than 10 days; or if your symptoms don’t improve after you see your regular doctor, it’s time to see an ENT specialist, such as Dr. Davis. 

He may have new at-home remedies to suggest, and he may feel that there are other treatment options that may be beneficial. Which treatment option may be right for you will vary greatly depending on your specific situation, including what is causing your sinus problems. Here are a few of our treatment options.

Balloon Sinuplasty 

This treatment promotes sinus drainage through a minimally invasive technique for mild to moderate chronic and recurrent sinusitis. During the procedure, Dr. Davis threads a small catheter through the sinus opening and inflates a balloon with water. The balloon dilates the sinus opening and widens the outflow tract, which encourages it to drain. The procedure is a quick, non-invasive way to improve drainage, reduce the potential for bacterial infections, and improve breathing. Numerous studies have shown that 90 to 95% of balloon sinuplasty patients benefit from the procedure for at least two years.

Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery

This is a procedure we use to treat moderate to severe sinus problems. If you’re no longer responding to treatments like nasal irrigation, antibiotics, and decongestants, you may be a good candidate. During the procedure, Dr. Davis uses an endoscope to locate and remove bone and tissue in the sinuses that are preventing drainage. Sinus surgery creates larger drainage pathways to reduce the chances of mucus buildup after recovery. General anesthesia is often required for the procedure, which usually takes between one and three hours. Recovery is typically quick, with very little pain.

SINUVA

This is an innovative treatment for nasal polyps. For many people, nasal polyps are a chronic problem that persists throughout their lives with symptoms such as runny nose, congestion, sinus pressure, postnasal drip, snoring, headaches, and more.

SINUVA is a non-invasive nasal implant that delivers an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid (mometasone furoate) directly to the polyps. Dr. Davis can place the SINUVA implant in the office if you have had previous endoscopic sinus surgery. The implant stays in place for approximately 90 days, after which he will remove it. SINUVA successfully reduces polyp inflammation without surgical intervention.

VIVAER Nasal Airway Remodeling

The VIVAER treatment, performed in our office, is a non-invasive procedure that involves no cutting. Your nasal valve area is gently and permanently reshaped using low-temperature radiofrequency energy. Immediately after treatment, you’ll begin to experience a noticeable improvement in nasal breathing.

Septoplasty

The nasal septum is the wall between the nostrils that separates the two nasal passages, and problems in this area can make breathing difficult. Surgery to straighten the septum is called a septoplasty, or deviated septum surgery.

The procedure usually takes 60 to 90 minutes and is performed in an outpatient surgery center. Before the surgery, we look at your nasal passages and view the shape of your septum. Dr. Davis then uses surgical tools to enter the nostrils and straighten the septum.

Dupixent

Dupixent is a new biologic option to treat and manage sinus conditions for those who may have been candidates for sinus surgery in the past. It is a game-changer for managing sinus disease! 

Dupixent is a treatment used with other medicines to treat chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyposis in adults to reduce the size of nasal polyps, improve congestion, improve loss of smell, and reduce the need for surgery.

Discover how the team at Excel ENT of Alabama can help manage inflammation and sinus issues.

If you are experiencing sinus issues, schedule an appointment online, or call to discuss coming in at a time that’s best for you: 205-988-6858.

Chronic Nasal Obstruction: its impacts, our convenient solutions

Chronic nasal obstructions cleared with Excel ENT

If you experience chronic nasal obstruction, otherwise known as chronic nasal congestion or continually having a “stuffy nose,” you likely already know this significantly impacts your overall wellbeing and happiness. 

Chronic nasal obstruction can often make it difficult to breathe, focus on work, perform daily activities, and even fully experience the world around you, as your attention is usually centered on merely trying to get air into your nostrils. 

Not to mention, this miserable condition can lead to serious health complications if not treated properly. Below we cover the different ways chronic nasal congestion negatively affects everyday life and how it may lead to other problems. 

Additionally, keep reading to discover an in-office treatment for chronic nasal obstruction we offer at Excel ENT. It’s minimally-invasive, completely safe, exceptionally effective, and often less scary than the more popular nasal congestion treatments available today. 

5 Ways Chronic Nasal Obstruction Negatively Impacts Everyday Life

Disrupted Sleep

No doubt, sleeping can seem impossible with nasal congestion problems. A healthy nasal pathway is essential for breathing properly through the night and getting optimal sleep. 

Over time, disrupted sleeping patterns, and years of inadequate rest can lead to chronic fatigue, elevated stress levels, higher chances of depression, weight gain, and more. 

Perpetual Breathing Problems 

The severity of how difficult it is to breathe depends on the type of nasal congestion one has. However, struggling to draw breath day in and day out is never a good feeling. And since this nasal congestion forces you to breathe through your mouth over time, several problems can arise, such as dental issues, dry mouth, poor sleep, mood fluctuations, and more. 

Constant Headaches

Depending on the severity of your condition, blocked nasal passages and chronic nasal obstruction often lead to mild to intense headaches. Without a doubt, what follows is a diminished quality of life, as headaches interfere with daily routine, concentration, work abilities, and sleeping patterns. 

Loss of Taste and Smell 

Considering the sense of smell and taste are connected, it’s no surprise that loss of taste often accompanies the loss of smell due to chronic nasal congestion. While there are several reasons this may occur, loss of taste and smell is usually a side effect of nasal polyps. However, if you have lost your sense of taste and smell, we recommend visiting an experienced ENT doctor for a thorough examination. 

Dwindling Quality of Life

If you are experiencing all the things mentioned above — sleep problems, breathing difficulties, constant headaches, loss of taste and smell — your quality of life is most likely dwindling. No doubt, these symptoms of chronic nasal obstruction put a strain on your physical and mental wellbeing. 

For these reasons, it’s critical to visit a specialized ENT doctor to address and effectively treat your chronic nasal obstruction. 

Now, we understand many nasal congestion treatments available today can often be perceived as invasive, painful, and scary. Thankfully, at Excel ENT, we offer an alternative option many of our previous patients have found effective at treating their chronic nasal obstruction. 

Introducing VivAer — The Nasal Obstruction Treatment at Excel ENT

VivAer is a minimally-invasive procedure that opens the nasal passages and delivers long-lasting results — all without invasive surgery, incisions, or excessive recovery time. 

If you suffer from debilitating chronic nasal obstruction, VivAer might be right for you. It’s clinically proven to help alleviate chronic nasal obstruction symptoms to significantly improve nasal breathing, help you get a better night’s sleep, and elevate your overall quality of life. 

At Excel ENT, we’re passionate about nasal passages and sinuses! 

Treating chronic nasal obstruction can be challenging. It often requires a combination of several methods, such as nasal irrigation, decongestants, and antibiotics. But sometimes, you need the help of a professional to get rid of chronic nasal congestion and chronic sinus infections for good. 

The expert team at Excel ENT of Alabama is passionate about sinus health and helping patients breathe better. If you’re suffering from chronic nasal obstruction, get in touch with Dr. Davis. He will get you feeling better in no time! Call 205-386-6453 or schedule an appointment here.

13 signs of painful chronic sinusitis you should be aware of

Chronic sinusitis

Chronic Sinusitis

 

Do you feel like every time you turn around, you’re getting another sinus infection?  Are you constantly complaining about sinus pain and discomfort? You may have a condition known as chronic sinusitis. Nearly 30 million American adults suffer from sinusitis, so you are not alone. 

At Excel ENT of Alabama, we understand that these ongoing sinus challenges can be frustrating and cause you to miss school, work, or other important occasions. 

Learn more about what chronic sinusitis is, the signs that you may suffer from chronic sinusitis, and the treatment options available. 

What is chronic sinusitis? 

Chronic sinusitis is persistent sinus swelling that interferes with the way your mucus drains, making it difficult to breathe through your nose. When the sinuses are chronically inflamed, they trap mucus, making your sinuses more susceptible to bacteria growth and infection.

Chronic sinusitis can be brought on by conditions such as sinus infections, allergies, nasal polyps, or a deviated septum

Does this condition sound familiar? The signs below may help you confirm that you suffer from chronic sinusitis. 

13 signs you suffer from chronic sinusitis

Common signs of chronic sinusitis include: 

  1. Congestion or “fullness” in the face
  2. Blockage in one or both nasal passages
  3. Fever
  4. Runny nose
  5. Discolored postnasal drainage (drainage at the back of your throat)
  6. Pus in the nasal cavity
  7. Headaches
  8. Fatigue
  9. Ear pain
  10. Aching in your upper jaw and teeth
  11. Cough or throat clearing
  12. Sore throat
  13. Bad breath

Suffering from two or more of these symptoms typically indicates you have chronic sinusitis.

Chronic sinusitis and acute sinusitis are often confused because they share similar signs and symptoms. The main difference is that acute sinusitis is temporary and often associated with a cold. If you suffer from chronic sinusitis, the signs and symptoms listed above could potentially last at least 12 weeks. 

Chronic Sinusitis treatment options

Treating chronic sinusitis can be challenging. It often requires a combination of several methods, such as nasal irrigation, decongestants, and antibiotics. Some treatments you can even do at home for short-term relief, such as a saline rinse, over-the-counter pain medications, and nasal sprays, but sometimes you need the help of a professional to get rid of chronic sinusitis for good.

If home remedies and medication do not provide relief, we may recommend endoscopic sinus surgery or balloon sinuplasty. Every patient is different, so it is important to schedule a sinus evaluation to determine your condition’s best treatment option.

Fortunately, there are many minimally invasive sinus treatment options on the market today, and Dr. Davis is a leading expert on how to get you back on your feet with just a small amount of downtime.

We’re passionate about sinuses!

The team at Excel ENT of Alabama is passionate about sinus health and helping patients breathe better. If you’re suffering from chronic sinusitis, get in touch with Dr. Davis. He will get you feeling better in no time! Call 205-386-6453 or schedule an appointment here.

 

Easy actions to remarkably improve your nasal blockages

Nasal airway obstruction

Nasal Blockages

 

Did you know that nasal breathing delivers about 70 percent of airflow to your lungs? With this statistic in mind, imagine how your quality of life is impacted if your nasal airway is obstructed in any way. It can affect your sleep, exercise, and your ability to breathe normally. 

More than 20 million Americans struggle to breathe through their noses. But, the good news is that NAO can be treated. In this article, we will describe nasal airway obstruction and discuss recommended treatment options. 

Do you have nasal blockage? 

Nasal airway obstruction (NAO) refers to any blockage of the nasal cavity. Even a slight narrowing of the nasal valve can lead to a significant reduction in airflow to your lungs. Narrowing of the nasal valve may be caused by an enlargement of the Septum, Lateral Wall, and Turbinates. 

NAO can be caused by a wide variety of problems:  

  • Foreign bodies in the nose
  • Large adenoids, which block the back of the nose
  • Swelling of the lining of the nose from allergies
  • Inferior turbinate hypertrophy, which occurs when the turbinates become swollen due to allergy or dust irritation. 
  • Deviated nasal septum, which is caused by trauma to the nose
  • Pyriform aperture stenosis, which is a rare birth defect where the front opening of the nose is narrow due to an overgrowth in the upper jaw bone 

As you may expect, symptoms of nasal airway obstruction include nasal congestion or stuffiness, nasal blockage, breathing difficulties, and sleeping trouble. An ENT specialist can conduct a thorough physical examination to determine the extent of your nasal obstruction. 

Do home remedies provide relief?  

The extent of a patient’s nasal airway obstruction will determine their treatment options. Traditionally, NAO has been treated by ongoing home remedies and nasal surgery.  

Ongoing home remedies include nightly breathing strips, nasal dilators, and nasal steroid sprays. While these may provide temporary relief, they are not a permanent solution. Likewise, nasal surgery, which often involves pain and recovery time, is not always effective. 

Today, there is a third option to treat nasal airway obstruction: A procedure called Vivaer® Nasal Airway Remodeling.  

Experience lasting relief with VIVAER® nasal airway remodeling 

Vivaer® Nasal Airway Remodeling is a clinically-proven treatment that uses low-temperature radiofrequency energy to gently and permanently reshape the nasal valve. It is a non-invasive procedure that does not involve cutting and can be performed in your doctor’s office. Plus, it is completed using only local anesthetic, which allows you to return to regular activity right away.

It is an excellent treatment option for patients who have narrow nasal valves but are not interested in or would not benefit from septoplasty. Our patients have experienced immediate improved breathing following the Vivaer® procedure. 

Discover how the team at ExcelENT can help you breathe easy

Are you tired of treating your sinus issues with nasal strips and sprays? The team at Excel ENT of Alabama is passionate about sinus health and helping patients breathe better. Schedule an appointment with us to determine if you’re a candidate for Vivaer®. 

 

Does an ENT Specialist Treat That? All About Sinuses

ENT specialist Dr. Davis diagnosing sinus problem.

ENT Specialists

 

When was the last time that you had a cold? You probably battled nasal congestion, but luckily, your stuffy nose cleared up with the virus, right? If not, then you may be one of the many people who suffer from persistent nasal congestion or irritation. Breathing is an essential feature of life, but one that many of us take for granted. Whether you’re suffering from a sinus infection or are thinking about sinus surgery, it’s time to find an ENT specialist who can help you breathe easy.

In this article, we’re sharing some of the sinus therapies and surgeries that we offer at Excel ENT. We assist our patients in everything from at-home nasal rinses to surgeries and innovative, non-invasive procedures to improve their breathing.

What is sinusitis?

Sinusitis is inflammation and swelling of the sinuses, which are a connected system of small, hollow cavities in your head. Everyone experiences sinusitis throughout their lives. For most people, the sinusitis is acute, or short-lived. Usually, it accompanies a cold, and the inflammation goes away when you recover.

Symptoms of acute sinusitis are:

  • Facial pain or pressure
  • A “stuffy” or runny nose
  • Reduced sense of smell
  • Cough and congestion

Chronic sinusitis is persistent swelling from conditions such as a sinus infection, allergies, nasal polyps, or a deviated septum. When the sinuses are chronically inflamed, they trap mucus, which makes them more susceptible to bacteria growth and infection.

Symptoms of chronic sinusitis are:

  • Congestion or “fullness” in the face
  • Blockage in one or both nasal passages
  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Discolored postnasal drainage (drainage at the back of your throat)
  • Pus in the nasal cavity
  • Headaches and fatigue

Treating chronic sinusitis can be challenging. Often, it takes a combination of several methods, including nasal irrigation, decongestants, or antibiotics. Patients who do not find relief from those methods may require treatments such as endoscopic sinus surgery or balloon sinuplasty.

The benefits of nasal irrigation

Your nose is like a filter that uses layers of mucus to trap particles so that they don’t get to your lungs. Unfortunately, dryness and inflammation make it harder for the sinuses to drain properly. Using nasal irrigation, also called a nasal rinse, can help thin the mucus so that it flows out of the nose, rinsing bacteria and irritating particulates away with it.

Using a saline rinse is simple, especially if you use a premixed solution like NeilMed. You should mix distilled water and a NeilMed sterile packet to create a saline (saltwater) solution. Lean your head over the sink and flush the saline into one nostril. The water will flow through your sinuses and out the other nostril, taking allergens and bacteria with it.

You can perform nasal irrigation daily, as your cold, allergy, or chronic sinusitis symptoms warrant it.

What is a deviated septum?

Your septum is the wall between your nostrils that separates the nasal passages. When a septum is deviated, it is bent or crooked, which causes blockage in one of the nasal passages. Some people are born with a deviated septum, and others sustain an injury that damages it.

The surgery to repair and straighten the septum is called septoplasty. It’s an option for patients who have not had success with non-invasive treatments. Results vary from person to person, but many people experience an improvement in their breathing after the procedure.

Vivaer® nasal airway remodeling

People who suffer from chronic nasal obstruction may benefit from a new, in-office procedure called Vivaer®. The treatment uses low-temperature radiofrequency energy to gently and permanently reshape the nasal valve. It can be an excellent procedure for patients who have narrow nasal valves and who either aren’t interested in or wouldn’t benefit from a septoplasty.

After the Vivaer® procedure, patients immediately begin to experience improved breathing. If you’re tired of nasal strips and nasal sprays then you may be interested in speaking with Dr. Davis about whether you’re a candidate for Vivaer®.

Balloon sinuplasty promotes sinus drainage: a minimally invasive technique

Dr. Davis is excited to offer patients a revolutionary office treatment for mild to moderate chronic and recurrent sinusitis called balloon sinuplasty. During the procedure, Dr. Davis threads a small catheter through the sinus opening and inflates a balloon with water. The balloon dilates the sinus opening and widens the outflow tract, which encourages it to drain.

The procedure is a quick, non-invasive way to improve drainage, reduce the potential for bacterial infections, and improve breathing. Numerous studies have shown that 90-95% of balloon sinuplasty patients benefit from the procedure for at least two years.

Is it time to consider functional endoscopic sinus surgery?

Functional endoscopic sinus surgery is a procedure that your ENT surgeon can use to treat moderate to severe sinus surgery. If you’re no longer responding to treatments like nasal irrigation, antibiotics, and decongestants, then you may be a candidate for sinus surgery.

During the procedure, Dr. Davis uses an endoscope to locate and remove bone and tissue in the sinuses that are preventing drainage. Sinus surgery creates larger drainage pathways to reduce the chances of mucus buildup after recovery. In addition, medicated sinus rinses can better penetrate the opened sinuses to help reduce inflammation. Patients will need to undergo general anesthesia for the procedure, which usually takes between one and three hours. However, recovery is typically quick, with very little pain.

SINUVA: An innovative treatment for nasal polyps

Nasal polyps are soft, painless, benign growths in the nasal passages. Prolonged inflammation and swelling of the sinuses from infection and allergies may increase a person’s likelihood of developing polyps. For many people, nasal polyps are a chronic problem that persists throughout their lives.

Common nasal polyps symptoms are:

  • Runny nose
  • Persistent congestion and sinus pressure
  • Postnasal drip
  • Reduced senses of smell and taste
  • Pain in the upper teeth and face
  • Snoring
  • Nosebleeds
  • Headaches

Common treatments include anti-inflammatory, steroid nasal sprays, nasal irrigation, and surgery to remove the polyps. Unfortunately, surgical removal of polyps isn’t always permanent, and the polyps may grow back.

SINUVA is an innovative, non-invasive nasal implant that delivers an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid (mometasone furoate) directly to the polyps. An ENT doctor can place the SINUVA implant in the office if the patient has had previous endoscopic sinus surgery. The implant stays in place for approximately 90 days, after which the doctor will remove it. SINUVA successfully reduces polyp inflammation without surgical intervention.

We’re passionate about sinuses!

The team at Excel ENT of Alabama is passionate about sinus health and helping patients breathe better. Whether you’re having a bout of acute sinusitis or suffering from persistent nasal blockage, get in touch with Dr. Davis. He’ll get you feeling better in no time!

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Nasal Rinsing: Does It Really Relieve Congestion?

NeilMed Nasal Rinse Bottle

Nasal Rinsing

 

Between dust, mold, grasses, and trees, it can feel like allergy season lasts all year round. Maybe you’ve heard of nasal rinsing, or nasal irrigation, and wondered if it actually works. Surely you can’t “rinse” allergens away, right?

The evidence is clear: nasal rinsing does help relieve sinus symptoms. If you’re interested in treating your nasal symptoms without medication, read on to learn how nasal rinsing works.

 

What is Nasal Rinsing?

Nasal rinsing is the process of flushing your sinuses with a saline (saltwater) rinse. It can be helpful for many different sinus symptoms, including dryness, runny nose, allergies, cold, and sinus infections.

One of your nose’s primary functions is to filter air before it enters your lungs. The mucus lining your sinuses is vital to the filtration process. However, dryness and inflammation make it hard for mucus to drain, which leads to congestion and pressure.

Did you know that there are hair-like cilia in your nose that trap bacteria and particles? The cilia “wave” and pass particles to your throat. When you swallow them, they get destroyed by the acid in your stomach. However, when your mucus is too thick, the cilia aren’t able to move well. When bacteria and particles get trapped in your sinuses, you feel congested.

Nasal irrigation thins mucus and cleanses your nasal passages so that your cilia can function correctly. The saline solution used in a rinse also helps restore moisture in dry sinuses. If you’re not sure whether nasal rinses are a suitable treatment for you, schedule an appointment with Dr. Davis to discuss your symptoms and options.

 

How Do You Perform a Nasal Rinse?

Doing a nasal rinse is quick and simple. First, you need to mix your solution. Our recommendation is to purchase pre-measured sinus rinse packets from NeilMed and mix one pouch with 8 ounces of lukewarm distilled water. Each packet contains a mixture of sodium chloride and sodium bicarbonate, which creates a saline (saltwater) solution when combined with distilled water. The pre-measured packets are convenient, pH balanced, and more sterile than mixing your own.

It’s very important that you use distilled or sterile in your nasal rinse. Tap water is not safe to use because it can contain bacteria and protozoa, including amoebas. When you drink tap water, your stomach acid kills any bacteria you ingest. However, your nose has no such mechanism, so organisms can survive inside your nasal passages and cause a serious, and potentially fatal, infection.

After you’ve mixed your solution, lean forward over a sink and tilt your head to one side. You want to encourage the saline rinse to flow in one nostril and out the other, so do not lean back or the rinse will go down your throat. It won’t hurt you if you swallow a little, it just won’t taste very good.

 

Illustration of a woman using a nasal rinse

 

Breathe through your mouth as you pour the saline into your upper nostril. The water will flow through your sinuses and out your lower nostril. When you’ve used half of your solution, stop and blow your nose to clear the remaining water out. Then, tilt your head the other way and repeat the process through your other nostril.

When you’ve finished, thoroughly wash your nasal rinse device with warm water and dish soap. Lay it out in the open air with good ventilation so that it dries thoroughly. Discard any remaining saline. The NeilMed saline is medication-free and safe for most people to use. However, if the solution irritates your nose, dilute it with a little extra water or rinse less frequently.

You can rinse daily, up to twice if you need it. Many people find that they can eventually cut back to rinsing about three times per week to manage their sinus symptoms.

 

Nasal Rinsing Devices

You may be wondering how, exactly, you’re supposed to get the saline rinse into your nostrils. There are several different devices available for your use.

NeilMed

NeilMed offers several types of irrigation devices including squeeze bottles and a battery-operated cordless pulsating nasal washer. To use, simply follow the directions above. The NeilMed system is the superior rinse device for most patients because it’s easier to use and more affordable than others. You don’t have to lean your body in a precise way, simply leaning over a sink and tilting your head is sufficient to maximize the impact of the rinse.

NeilMed Sinus Rinse bottle

Neti Pot

A neti pot looks like a small, ceramic teapot. You fill it with saline and put the “spout” at the opening of one nostril and follow the directions above, repeating for both nostrils. The neti pot has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine but has recently caught on in the United States.

Naväge

The Naväge uses a small diaphragm pump to draw the saline solution up from a holding tank. It pumps the solution into one nostril and then “pulls” it out the other nostril into a second tank. Instead of irrigating over the sink as you do with a neti pot, the Naväge collects the used saline.

According to the manufacturer, there is no need to rinse both sides of the nose in a single session. However, Naväge advises users to rotate the nose piece and switch nostrils at least once a week.

Bulb Syringe

Bulb syringes work the same as the NeilMEd and neti pot. Parents can also use bulb syringes to help their children irrigate. Toddlers and babies may benefit from using a few drops of saline to help suck mucus out of the nostrils. Always check with your doctor before doing nasal irrigation with your children.

 

Prescription Nasal Rinse

If at-home rinses don’t have the effect you desire, speak to your physician about combining a saline rinse with prescriptions such as Budesonide (Pulmicort) or Mometasone. Budesonide and Mometason are corticosteroids primarily used for wheezing and shortness of breath in patients with asthma. They reduce irritation and swelling in the airways.

When mixed with saline solution, Budesonide and Mometasone have been successful in managing sinus symptoms in patients with chronic rhinosinusitis and recurring allergies. If you think you may be a candidate for Budesonide or Mometasone, schedule an appointment with Dr. Davis to discuss your treatment options.

 

Rinse Your Way to Better Breathing

You can use nasal rinses alone or in conjunction with other sinus treatments. If you’re suffering from persistent congestion or just battling a cold, give nasal rinsing a try. If you’d like to learn more about nasal irrigation or other treatment options visit Excel ENT of Alabama, and get in touch!