I frequently seem to have sinus problems. I have constant facial pain – at either side of my nose, I have a terrible headache and my nose seems to be permanently blocked. The ‘hayfever season’ makes it 10 times worse and it is starting to affect my quality of life.
Is there anything I can do to alleviate the symptoms? Any help would be much appreciated.
Mr Sanjay Verma, Consultant ENT Surgeon
You sound like you are suffering badly with rhino-sinusitis! This is basically swelling and inflammation of the lining of your nose and sinuses.
The first step would be to try washing your nose out with a salt water solution up to four times a day, to help unblock your nose. Over the counter decongestant sprays might help for a few days, but be careful not to overdo them since they can cause a rebound worsening of your symptoms. Since you’ve noticed the problems are worse during the “hayfever season”, it’s likely that you have an allergy to pollen or grass that causes allergic rhinitis, commonly called “hayfever”. You may well benefit from taking antihistamine tablets.
In some cases the swelling of the lining of the nose and sinuses is severe enough to cause small sacs to form in the nose called “polyps”. Sometimes these can be seen in the nose by your GP, but often you need to be assessed by an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist who can use telescopes to look further back into your nose to the sinus openings. Polyps and swelling can shrink back with steroids, and these can be prescribed as a nose spray, nose drops or tablets. In some cases though, medication is not enough and it might be necessary to operate to clear the nose and sinuses; this is done by ENT surgeons using telescopes and called endoscopic sinus surgery.