Not only is nasal congestion uncomfortable, but it could be a symptom of an underlying health issue. While it’s normal for these symptoms to happen occasionally with a head cold or viral illness, it could be a sign that you need to talk to a specialist if you are dealing with chronic nasal congestion.
Picking the Right Doctor: Primary Care vs. ENT Specialist
How do you know which type of doctor to visit for nasal congestion treatments? Most of the time, patients will schedule their first appointment with a primary care provider. It’s common to visit a family doctor for a variety of symptoms because they act as the first line of treatment for many different conditions.
Keep in mind that a primary care physician doesn’t have the experience or insights to know the best solutions for treating chronic conditions. Instead, it’s best to visit an otolaryngologist (also known as an ear, nose, and throat doctor or ENT).
These experts have specialized training and advanced knowledge relating to the diagnosis and treatment of many conditions affecting the head, neck, and face. They can help with everything from seasonal allergies to complex, chronic conditions.
Acute Sinus Congestion or Chronic Conditions?
A few details that will help you determine whether it’s necessary to visit with an ENT specialist instead of a general practitioner are how long you have been experiencing these symptoms and the severity of the symptoms.
For example, a primary care physician can be a helpful resource if you have the flu or the common cold. If the symptoms start fast and last only for 7 – 10 days, then you might not need to see a specialist. These acute types of viral conditions often clear up on their own without medical intervention.
On the other hand, some nasal conditions last for weeks or months. When living with constant sinus congestion, pain, and pressure, you need to see an expert instead of talking to a general physician. A chronic issue won’t clear up without medical interventions.
Chronic Sinusitis: What You Need to Know
When sinusitis occurs, you often experience nasal congestion because of swelling and inflammation in the sinuses. There are small passages and cavities in the face and head area, which should be open and clear to facilitate breathing.
Inflammation causes mucus to become trapped, which means the area is more susceptible to infection and bacteria growth. As a result, it can be a never-ending battle with sinus symptoms and discomfort.
Chronic sinusitis means that these areas are always inflamed, resulting in symptoms that continue for a longer period of time. There are often underlying conditions contributing to nasal congestion, such as allergies, a deviated septum, nasal polyps, or a sinus infection.
It’s common to experience a variety of symptoms when you are living with chronic sinusitis.
- Runny nose
- Nasal congestion
- “Fullness” in the facial area
- Inability to breathe through one or both sides of the nose
- Discolored discharge from the nose
- Postnasal drainage
- Forehead, cheeks, and sinus areas are tender to the touch
Multi-Faceted Approach for Treating Nasal Congestion
Most people want to take medication to alleviate their sinus congestion. While over-the-counter and prescription medications can be helpful in alleviating these symptoms, it’s also important to address the underlying cause.
For example, you might take a decongestant to clear nasal congestion or an antibiotic to help with a sinus infection. But if nasal polyps are present, then the symptoms might quickly return until you treat the polyps.
You want long-term results, which is why it’s essential to schedule a consultation with an ENT specialist for an accurate diagnosis. We use different types of tests and physical examinations to see what is happening. The goal is to address the root cause, helping to eliminate symptoms right now and prevent issues in the future.
Our team at Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat not only offers in-office treatments and modern technology, but we also work hard to educate patients about steps that can be followed to prevent nasal congestion. For example, finding allergic triggers or other lifestyle factors can help to minimize the risk of nasal inflammation and congestion.
Diagnostics for Nasal Congestion
Several different types of tests might be recommended in the beginning. Additionally, the doctor will want to learn more about your medical history and previous treatments.
- Nasal Endoscopy: A small instrument is inserted into the nose to see what is happening inside the sinus structures.
- Diagnostic Images: CT or MRI scans can be helpful to show the doctor whether there are any physical obstructions in the sinuses or nasal passages.
- Lab Cultures: The ENT might take a swab from your nose so it can be tested for bacteria or fungus. These infections can be the underlying cause of nasal congestion.
- Allergy Tests: It’s important to determine whether allergies trigger flare-ups. If allergies are a factor, then it can be helpful to avoid these triggers so you can minimize symptoms in the future.
How an ENT Can Treat Nasal Congestion
When you visit an ENT, the first step is always to get to the root of the problem. Often, nasal congestion is a symptom of a bigger problem. Instead of only addressing the immediate symptom, the doctor’s goals are also to help with prevention in the future.
Once testing has been done during the diagnostic process, next it’s time to determine an effective treatment.
- Medications: Over-the-counter or prescription medications can help reduce inflammation, clear congestion, manage allergies, and thin mucus. Sometimes, antibiotics or anti-fungal medications are essential to clear an infection.
- Sinus Procedures: If basic treatments aren’t sufficient, the doctor might recommend a minimally-invasive treatment or more invasive nasal surgery. These procedures help to open the sinuses so the cavities can drain properly, eliminating chronic inflammation and recurring infections in the future. Examples include the removal of nasal polyps or correcting a deviated septum.
Schedule an ENT Appointment for Relief from Nasal Congestion
If you are living with chronic nasal congestion, then it’s time to schedule a consultation with an ENT specialist. There is no reason why you should let these symptoms take a toll on your overall quality of life!
We are here to help with full-service solutions. Not only do we offer in-office testing, imaging, and diagnostics, but we also provide quality services for treating different types of conditions affecting the ears, nose, and throat.
Do you live in Collin County or Dallas and would like to visit with an ENT? It’s time to contact Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat. We have two convenient offices located in both Frisco and Plano, TX. Fill out the online form to initiate an appointment, or call us any time: (972) 596-4005.