The transition of spring into summer is a time many of us in Iowa look forward to all year long. The temperatures climb, the days lengthen, and our lawns and fields burst with color. But for some Iowans, this season brings more than just beautiful landscapes and pleasant weather—it also ushers in seasonal sinusitis.
What is Seasonal Sinusitis?
Sinusitis is a condition involving inflammation or swelling of the tissue lining the sinuses. Under normal conditions, our sinuses—the hollow spaces in the bones around the nose—are filled with air. But when they become blocked and filled with fluid, germs can grow and cause an infection, leading to sinusitis.
Seasonal sinusitis is often linked to changes in the weather and an increase in allergens, both of which we experience in Iowa during the spring and summer months. Common symptoms may include:
- Nasal congestion
- Sinus pressure or pain
- Runny nose
- Reduced sense of smell
- Sore throat
- Bad breath
How to Prevent Sinusitis
One of the key steps in managing seasonal sinusitis is prevention. Since many cases are caused by allergies, minimizing exposure to allergens is a crucial preventive measure. These tips may help:
- Check daily pollen counts, and try to stay indoors when they're high.
- When you've been outside, shower and change your clothes to remove any pollen that may have settled on you.
- Consider using a HEPA air filter in your home to capture allergens.
- Wash bedding weekly in hot water.
- Regularly clean surfaces to reduce dust and mold.
Despite your best efforts, you may still come down with sinusitis. There are several treatment options, ranging from at-home care to allergy management or, in some cases, potential sinus surgery.
Home care for sinusitis
Home remedies can be a great starting point to provide relief from sinusitis symptoms. Staying well-hydrated helps thin out the mucus, allowing your sinuses to drain more effectively. Hot fluids like teas or clear broths can also help to clear your sinuses.
A humidifier can add much-needed moisture to your environment, and placing a warm compress over your affected sinuses may ease some of the pressure and pain. Some people also find relief through nasal irrigation with a neti pot or a saline spray, which can help clear out congested nasal passages.
There are several over-the-counter (OTC) medications that can help manage sinusitis symptoms. Decongestants help reduce the swelling in your nasal passages, making it easier to breathe. Antihistamines can help if allergies are triggering your sinusitis, and pain relievers can help manage discomfort.
If your sinusitis symptoms are particularly severe, or if they last for more than a week, it may be time to see your Iowa ENT Center provider. We may prescribe stronger medications—such as corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and/or antibiotics if we suspect a bacterial infection.
In rare cases, when sinusitis is recurrent and doesn't respond to other forms of treatment, we may recommend surgery. The goal of sinus surgery is to widen the sinus passages, improving drainage and reducing the likelihood of future sinus infections. This is typically considered a last resort after other treatments have failed.
If allergies are at the root of your sinusitis, allergy treatment may be beneficial. We can help identify specific allergens and recommend treatments like antihistamines, nasal steroids, or immunotherapy to minimize (or even eliminate, in some cases) your allergic reactions.
How to Make an Appointment
If you think it’s time to see a doctor about sinusitis, allergies, or any other ENT problem, we’re here to help. We never require a referral to make an appointment with one of our providers. And in most cases, insurance doesn’t require a referral, either (although you’ll want to confirm that with your insurance provider). To schedule an appointment, call us a 515-223-4368 or request an appointment online.