New Help for Allergy Sufferers

May 22, 2015


Spring brings the sound of birds, blooming flowers, and the smell of freshly-mowed grass.  For too many people, these are not happy signs.  They cause the sneezing, coughing and watering eyes of allergies.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies, and 24 million new diagnoses of hay fever were made just last year.  The prevalence is increasing.  

Receiving allergy shots – or immunotherapy – is one method of treating allergies.  There is plenty of debate about the effectiveness of this approach, but success depends on committing to the entire treatment program and proper dosing.  Immunotherapy treatment takes up to 30 months, with the patient going to the physician’s office weekly for injections.  

Another, less commonly-known, non-surgical treatment is available.  Dr. Jeffrey Rice, an oral-maxillofacial surgeon, performs this procedure called turbinate reduction at Penn Highlands DuBois and at the Penn Highlands Elk Surgery Center.  

“This procedure can be extremely helpful for the person who cannot seem to get relief through medications or for the person who experiences complications from the medications, such as drowsiness and dry mouth,” explains Rice.

Turbinates are structures inside the nasal airway that enlarge or shrink as needed to defend the body against contagions and irritants in the air. They warm and moisten the air before it enters the lungs. When a person has a sinus infection, the turbinates enlarge with blood to fight the infection. They also enlarge with allergies, making it harder to breathe. When a person says his sinuses are swollen, it is actually his turbinates. 

If a patient has this condition chronically, turbinate size reduction may be in order. 

The procedure entails placing a radio frequency probe in the turbinate for less than a minute.  The probe creates a vibration that changes the protein structure, which the body absorbs, and reduces the turbinate to a normal size and function.

There is no pain afterwards, and the patient goes home in less than an hour.  Until all the nasal tissue is healed – which may take a couple weeks – swelling will cause the nose to feel blocked.
This procedure may also help reduce snoring, because snoring can be caused by mouth breathing. This is often done when a person cannot properly breathe through his or her nose.  

For more information about this, call Rice’s office located at 90 Beaver Drive in DuBois at 814-375-0500. Some insurances do require a referral for this procedure. It is always best to check with your insurance company before scheduling any procedure.