The Richmond Pollen Almanac often shows that there are plenty of reasons for us to suffer with sinus problems and allergies. Trees, grass, weeds, and mold are some of the most common causes of painful sinuses and headaches.
Dr. Travis Shaw provided us with valuable information regarding recurrent ear infections in “Part I: Dr. Shaw Talks About Kids and Ear Infections.” In a recent interview with Dr. Shaw of the Stony Point Surgery Center, we learned a lot about managing sinus conditions too.
“Sinus pressure can result in lots of headaches, pain, and pressure across the face and head,” Dr. Shaw explains. “Sinus pain and discomfort is a very common complaint among people living in Richmond.”
We’re sandwiched between the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. With plenty of lush green landscapes, flowering gardens, and towering trees, there’s no shortage of triggers for sinus problems.
“Richmond is a bad place for people with allergies – moisture, mold, and tons of pollen emerge in the spring. And the mold continues throughout the summer and fall,” Dr. Shaw explains. “Sinus problems can really impact a person’s life in many negative ways.”
Dr. Shaw’s Philosophy
Dr. Shaw’s philosophy towards patient treatment is to make a recommendation to treat his patients as non-invasive and non-surgically as possible. That assumes he can get an “equal outcome” with non-surgical treatment vs. surgical procedures. “I will recommend the medical option that makes the most sense for each patient. When it comes to sinus problems, some people require surgery while others can be treated medically.”
“If allergies and sinus pain are a recurrent issue in your life and you’ve dealt with it year in and year out, you probably need to see a specialist. If you’ve had more than 2-3 sinus infections in a year, evaluation by a qualified ENT is recommended. That doesn’t mean that you need any type of procedure but you do need a thorough evaluation to weigh the options for treatment. It may be as simple as getting a good medical regimen to treat the nose properly,” he goes on to explain.
Dr. Shaw is very adamant that the least invasive procedures are preferable for him and his patients. He also points out that his evaluation may lead to a referral to a headache specialist since there may be other triggers for the headaches and pain.
Technological Advances for Treatment
“If your primary care physician has treated you for multiple sinus infections, he or she may refer to a specialist. We can take a small telescope and look into the nose to examine drainage pathways. We make sure nothing obvious is blocking that area. If there is and there is a history of multiple infections, we may order a CAT Scan if necessary. Once an examination is completed, we talk about options such as continuing on medical therapy, trying allergy treatment, or other options,” according to Dr. Shaw.
“One of the neat things we’re doing now in terms of technological advances is minimally invasive surgery that is safe and effective. It’s similar to angioplasty for the heart – we use the same concept and apply it to the sinuses. A small wire is threaded into the opening of the inflamed sinus where we insert a balloon. This pushes tissue and bone away and makes the sinus opening wider. It’s done in the office and is similar to having a cavity filled. Traditional surgery required being in the operating room, being put to sleep, and taking a week or longer for recovery. This new Balloon Sinuplasty is much better.”
Managing Sinus Pain and Infection
Dr. Shaw gave us some important tips for managing sinus pain and allergies:
- Use a good saline spray in your nose each day to clear allergens, dirt and dust. A netipot is useful in cleaning the sinus passageways. Saline sprays keep the nose moist and keep irritants moving away from the nose, helping avoid infections too. Cleaning the nose thoroughly helps the function of the actual lining tissue of the nose.
- Kids with drippy noses may benefit from saline spray. The “Little Noses” spray by Little Remedies is very helpful for children. (Be sure and ask your doctor before using any products for children or adults, and adhere to the age recommendations – Little Noses is not recommended for children under 2 years of age).
- It’s important to clean the nozzle before and after each use, and never share nasal sprays. Always have separate nasal spray bottles/applicators for each person to avoid spreading germs.
- A warm shower after spending time outdoors can help wash away pollen, dust, and other particles in the nose and sinus passages.
For those suffering from sinus problems and allergies, Dr. Shaw advises taking action rather than suffering with the pain and discomfort. Discuss your situation with your primary care physician and find out if an evaluation by a specialist is needed.
“There are many options available and surgery does not have to be the only one,” he emphasizes.
Dr. Shaw also provides services for children suffering from chronic ear infections and other ENT conditions. He is board certified in ENT and Facial Plastic Surgery. He takes pride in also focusing on skin cancer reconstruction.
“I am driven by my personal desire to help people.”
After spending time with Dr. Shaw, it’s obvious that his work is all about his passion for making life better for others. Whether it’s to remedy a chronic ear infection, painful recurrent sinus infections, a cleft palate, or reconstructive surgery, it’s all done with a desire to make life better for others.
Learn more about Dr. Shaw in this video:
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