ENT

Nose and Sinus

We all know the feeling of having a congested nose or a relentless postnasal drip. Hardly anything compares to the frustration that comes with ongoing sinus issues. Nose and sinus conditions, such as chronic congestion or runny nose, affect millions of people and are a common reason for hospital and doctor’s office visits. Issues with the nose and sinuses can be chronic or acute. Chronic nasal conditions are ongoing or recurrent, while acute conditions only last temporarily.

Deviated Septum/ Nasal Obstruction

The septum is a nasal structure that separates the two nostrils. Sometimes, this small, thin bone can be “deviated” more to one side. A deviated septum is a common cause of nasal obstruction, a symptom that occurs when the nasal passage is blocked. Nasal obstruction can be caused by many conditions, including a deviated septum, infection, illness, or nasal polyps.

Some people are born with deviated septums, which can even happen to babies during birth. They can also occur later in life due to a traumatic injury, such as a blow to the side of the nose.

Nose and sinus issues affect millions of people and are a common reason for a visit with an otolaryngology doctor.
Nose and sinus issues affect millions of people and are a common reason for a visit with an otolaryngology doctor.

Deviated septums can cause nosebleeds, chronic nasal congestion, and frequent sinus infections. In minor cases, individuals may not even be aware that they have a deviated septum. Minor deviated septums can be managed with medications to treat symptoms, while more severe cases may require surgical correction.

Extra Tip

Between 70% to 80% of people have a septal deviation noticeable during an examination. 

Stuffy and Runny Nose/ Rhinitis

A chronic stuffy or runny nose is often caused by a condition called rhinitis. There are many different types of rhinitis, including allergic and nonallergic. Rhinitis causes the blood vessels in the nose to expand, causing the nasal lining to fill with fluid and blood. The result is swollen nasal membranes and congestion. 

If rhinitis is an ongoing issue, allergic causes will be investigated. Allergic rhinitis is also sometimes referred to as hay fever. When there doesn’t seem to be an allergic trigger to rhinitis symptoms, it will be deemed nonallergic rhinitis. 

Nose and sinus issues affect millions of people and are a common reason for a visit with an otolaryngology doctor.
Nose and sinus issues affect millions of people and are a common reason for a visit with an otolaryngology doctor.

Some triggers that can cause nonallergic rhinitis include: 

Mild rhinitis symptoms are easily manageable by avoiding triggers and using over-the-counter medications. In more severe cases, surgery may be needed to treat the underlying cause.

Extra Tip

Colds and allergies are the most common cause of mild rhinitis.

Sinus Infection

Sinusitis (or rhinosinusitis) is one of America’s most common health conditions, affecting more than 37 million people annually. Sinus infections occur when the sinus lining is inflamed, preventing normal sinus drainage. Having a blockage in the sinuses then causes mucus to build up, leading to uncomfortable symptoms such as:

Nose and sinus issues affect millions of people and are a common reason for a visit with an otolaryngology doctor.
Nose and sinus issues affect millions of people and are a common reason for a visit with an otolaryngology doctor.
Sinusitis can be considered acute, subacute, or chronic. Acute sinusitis lasts less than four weeks, subacute sinusitis lasts 4 to 12 weeks, and chronic sinusitis lasts longer than 12 weeks.
Mild cases of sinusitis can be treated with antibiotics, decongestants, pain relievers, and nasal sprays. More severe cases may require further testing, such as a CT scan, MRI, or surgery.

Extra Tip

When an individual experiences four or more episodes of acute sinusitis per year, it is considered recurrent acute rhinosinusitis.

Nosebleeds

It is naturally a little alarming to see blood dripping from your nose. Most nosebleeds are not a major cause for concern. However, in some cases, they can indicate a need for medical attention. 

The two most common causes of nosebleeds are nasal dryness and a traumatic injury to the nose. Because the nose sticks out and is located in the middle of the face, it can easily be a target for injury during a fall, car accident, or sports game.

Nasal dryness occurs when you breathe in dry air, such as in a drier climate, higher altitude, or when inside a heated home or office. 

Nose and sinus issues affect millions of people and are a common reason for a visit with an otolaryngology doctor.
Nose and sinus issues affect millions of people and are a common reason for a visit with an otolaryngology doctor.

When the nasal tissue becomes dry, it can crack and bleed easily. You should seek medical attention for nosebleeds if you’ve lost a significant amount of blood, suffered from a traumatic injury, or if the nosebleeds are recurring frequently and you’re unsure of the cause.

Extra Tip

60% of people have a nosebleed at some point in their lifetime.

Nasal Polyps

Nasal polyps are small tissue growths in the lining of the nasal passages. These growths are painless and non-cancerous; many people are unaware they have them. They usually occur due to chronic inflammation and may be secondary to sinus infections, allergies, and other immune system disorders. 

When nasal polyps grow large or group together, they can become problematic, causing breathing problems, loss of smell, and infections. Diagnosing nasal polyps can be done by your ENT doctor, who can look in your nasal passageway with special equipment to identify them. 

univoto nasal polyps

Smaller nasal polyps can be treated with medications such as nasal decongestants, nasal sprays, and antihistamines. If medications do not help, surgery may be needed to remove the polyps. Nasal polyps can easily be surgically removed using a minimally-invasive procedure. Some patients may need ongoing medications to ensure that the polyps do not grow back following surgery.

Extra Tip

About 4% of the US population develops nasal polyps. 

Loss of Smell and Taste

Your sense of smell and taste belongs to something called the chemosensory system. The processes of smelling and tasting start when substances come into contact with special nerve cells in the nose, mouth, and throat. The olfactory system is responsible for the process of smell, while the gustatory cells are clustered on the taste buds and are responsible for the process of taste. 

It is easy to take your sense of smell and taste for granted until they stop working. The olfactory system is the part of the brain that helps interpret and understand smells. 

Nose and sinus issues affect millions of people and are a common reason for a visit with an otolaryngology doctor.
Nose and sinus issues affect millions of people and are a common reason for a visit with an otolaryngology doctor.

There are many different reasons why you may experience a loss of smell and taste, including:

If you notice these changes, you must consult your doctor as soon as possible.

Extra Tip

Loss of smell affects about 12% of the population and 85% of people infected with COVID-19. Most patients who recover from COVID-19 will regain their sense of smell and taste. 

Balloon Sinusplasty

A balloon sinuplasty is a minimally invasive surgical procedure to treat chronic sinusitis and other chronic sinus conditions. During this procedure, your ENT doctor will place an endoscope or a long tube into your nose through your nostril. 

They will then insert a balloon device that will inflate to expand the walls of the sinuses. This allows for proper drainage of mucus to alleviate symptoms associated with chronic congestion. Balloon sinuplasty can be performed on adults or children.

Nose and sinus issues affect millions of people and are a common reason for a visit with an otolaryngology doctor.
Nose and sinus issues affect millions of people and are a common reason for a visit with an otolaryngology doctor.

This procedure is considered minimally invasive, meaning it doesn’t require any cutting into the skin like some more invasive surgical procedures. Balloon sinuplasty surgeries are associated with minimal risks and high rates of success. This is an ideal procedure for anyone who suffers from chronic sinusitis that hasn’t responded to other treatment approaches. 

Extra Tip

A balloon sinuplasty may not be recommended for anyone with large nasal polyps or a severely deviated septum.

Anyone who experiences ongoing nasal issues that get in the way of their day-to-day life can benefit from a visit to their ENT doctor. Your doctor will work with you to pinpoint the cause of your issues and accurately move forward with treatment.

Frequently asked questions

Have questions? We are here to help.

Why Do I need a referral if my insurance does not require it? What is the difference between a ‘clinical referral’ and an ‘insurance referral’?

An ‘insurance referral’ is a referral that is obtained by your PCP, directly through your insurance provider’s dedicated referrals portal. There is usually an associated referral number that is added to the claim that is submitted to your insurance with the claim for the services we provide. If your insurance requires a referral, we do not schedule an appointment until we have received this from your PCP. The reason for this is to protect the patient from receiving a large bill for services that normally would have been covered, if a referral had been obtained.

 

A ‘clinical referral’ is documentation from your referring provider, explaining the reason why they are referring you to our practice, and any past treatments, diagnostic testing, or other pertinent information that will assist our MD’s in treating you optimally.

 

As specialists, we have certain providers that require a ‘clinical referral’, prior to scheduling, to ensure that the referral is appropriate, and that necessary testing has been performed prior to seeing our physician. This is to ensure that a visit is not ‘wasted’ if the physician is not able to help you, or if necessary testing for optimal treatment has not been ordered and performed.

Why does it take so long to get an appointment? What is the turnaround time to get a new patient appointment?

Univoto’s specialists, and especially our sub-specialists, are very unique in their expertise, and this means that we are sometimes the sole resource for patients with complex head and neck disorders. This does mean that our schedules fill up quickly, and it may take up to three months to get a ‘New Patient’ appointment with one of our providers.

 

We can assure you that if you have an urgent need to be seen quickly, we have a process in place to get you in within 24 to 48 hours. Urgency is determined by a referral from a primary care physician, so if you feel your case is urgent, please reach out to your primary care physician as a first step.

 

We also are happy to offer appointments with our Physician’s Assistant, much more expediently. Please ask your patient coordinator if your diagnosis is one that our PA can treat, to decrease your wait time.

Does Univoto offer ‘emergency’ appointments, and what qualifies as an ‘emergency’?
Univoto DOES offer urgent appointments. However, urgency is determined by your primary care physician. We require clinical documentation of the urgent matter. Upon receipt of this documentation, we can usually get you in within 24 to 48 hours.

How to make the most of your next doctor’s visit

18 tips to prepare for a doctor’s visit