A runny nose or sinus congestion happens to everyone, often occurring when a person gets sick with the common cold. Even though these illnesses are uncomfortable, they often clear up on their own within a few days. But if home remedies and rest don’t help you heal, then it might be time to talk to a doctor.
When health symptoms arise, it’s common for people to call their general physician for an appointment. These visits can be helpful for basic diagnosis and medical care. But don’t underestimate the importance of talking to a specialist when needed.
For example, an ear, nose, and throat doctor has more experience treating conditions relating to these areas of the body. This experience can improve your treatment, resulting in faster relief from your health concerns.
What Do You Call a Sinus Doctor?
A sinus doctor is called an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialist.
How a Sinus Doctor Can Help
A sinus specialist, sometimes known as a sinus doctor, has advanced surgical and medical training for the diagnosis of a range of conditions affecting the ears, nose, and throat.
What doctor specializes in sinus problems? The official medical name for a doctor that focuses on conditions in the ears, nose, and throat is an otolaryngologist. Not only can an ENT help with sinus-related concerns; they are also trained to treat other conditions such as allergies, trauma, cancer, deformities, and more.
When you are having symptoms in your ears, nose, and throat for a few days, then you probably don’t need to schedule an ENT appointment because the symptoms will go away with basic home remedies.
When Should I See a Sinus Specialist?
When the symptoms persist longer than a week to ten days, then your primary care doctor might give you a referral to talk to a sinus specialist. These are some of the symptoms that might require an ENT visit instead of a standard appointment with your regular doctor:
- Chronic sinus issues
- Ongoing post nasal drip
- Frequent headaches
- Reduced sense of smell
- Pain in the ears, upper teeth, or face
- Hearing impairment
- Hearing loss
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty breathing through the nose
- Voice problems
- Tinnitus (ringing in your ears)
- Recurring infections in the ears, tonsils, or adenoids
- Dizziness or balance issues
- Persistent sore throat
If you are living with chronic congestion, problems breathing, and unexplained sinus issues, then it’s time to talk to a sinus specialist. Working with an ENT gives you access to advanced options that aren’t available through a general practitioner.
Ear, Nose, & Throat: Diagnosis of Sinus Issues
In most cases, patients have acute sinus problems – the symptoms start suddenly and then clear up on their own within a week or two. If you notice that these acute flare ups happen frequently, or you have chronic sinus symptoms that last for months, then you need to talk to a doctor for an official diagnosis.
One of the first things your ENT will do is perform an exam and order testing as needed to diagnose your condition. Knowing the underlying cause of your sinus issues gives the ENT a foundation to build an effective treatment plan.
For example, if the sinus issues are caused by a viral infection (such as the common cold), then there is no need to prescribe antibiotics. This medication will not be effective in clearing up the congestion. The only time antibiotics should be used is if the sinus symptoms are caused by bacteria.
Here is an overview of what you can expect during the diagnostic process:
- History and Information: During your diagnostic exam, your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms, timeline, and treatments. You should always share as much information as possible to help the doctor understand the extent of your symptoms.
- Examination: A physical exam can also be helpful in identifying areas that are affected, such as the sinuses and throat.
- Digital Imaging: Next, the doctor might request in-depth testing, such as digital imaging to get a closer look at what is happening in the sinuses. For example, a CT scan can be used to see a cross-section of your sinuses.
- Endoscopy: For chronic issues, a nasal endoscopy can help the ENT see the inside of your sinuses. This procedure is simple: your nose is numbed using a spray, then the doctor inserts a flexible, thin device into the nose. This instrument has a small lens at the end to provide real-time imaging of the sinuses.
- Swab: Sometimes, a sinus swab might be required to determine the reason why you have an infection in the sinuses. These swabs can be used to diagnose bacterial or fungal issues that require treatment.
- Allergy Testing: Chronic sinus issues could be caused by allergies. Your doctor might recommend an allergy test to identify triggers and help you get these allergy symptoms under control.
Once the diagnostic process is complete, then the doctor can design an ideal treatment plan to relieve your sinus discomfort.
Can a Doctor Drain Your Sinuses?
The fastest way to drain the sinuses is through surgery, but this treatment is only used when other treatments are not effective. Draining the sinuses is much more complicated than opening the drain in a sink or bathtub. Sinus congestion typically causes inflammation of the tissues. The actual amount of drainage can vary from person to person because the blockages are often caused by swollen sinus tissue.
When sinus infections don’t clear up with non-invasive treatments, then your ENT might recommend office based procedures or sinus surgery to relieve your pain. An in-office balloon procedure may be recommended to widen the sinus openings to help with recurrent or chronic sinus infections. Surgery may be a treatment option if your sinus issues are caused by nasal polyps, a deviated septum, or other structural issues.
The goal of sinus surgery is to reduce the number of sinus infections you get. Removing excess tissue and opening up the nasal passages decreases the risk of infection by eliminating the conditions that lead to chronic infections. This treatment isn’t right for every patient though, which is why it’s best to talk to an ENT about your individual situation.
Call the Best ENT in Frisco and Plano, TX
If you are tired of dealing with chronic sinus issues, then Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat offers the solutions that you need. We serve patients throughout the local communities, including the Collin County area. We have two convenient offices located in Frisco and Plano, TX.
At Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat, our experienced team offers a range of diagnostic and treatment services. Our services are available for people of all ages. Contact us by filling out our online appointment request form, or calling: (972) 596-4005.