Patients with acid reflux or GERD are at increased risk of chronic rhinitis and sinusitis. Gastric content refluxate travels up the esophagus into the throat area. There, acid, bile and possibly pepsin irritate the sensitive lining, or mucous membranes, of the nose. Chronic irritation leads to chronic inflammation which results in thickening mucous membranes and increased mucous production. When excess mucous builds up, patient feels congested. Breathing through the nose becomes difficult and patients report feeling blocked. Furthermore, sinus drainage into nasal cavity through tiny opening in the mucous membranes is hampered. This further increases congestion, post nasal drip, cough, globus, hoarseness and throat clearing.
Patients in Houston who present with chronic rhinosinusitis symptoms are typically assumed to have allergy as the cause of their symptoms. Treatment consists of saline nasal sprays, decongestants, and all sorts of allergy medications. Most of these medications can be obtained over the counter. Patients whose symptoms persist are referred to an allergy specialist. Allergy specialist preferred treatment consists of repetitive allergy shots given over a long period of time. However, if reflux is the root cause of the problem, allergy treatment is not likely to benefit patients. At some point in time, the reflux patient struggling with chronic rhinosinusitis is referred to an ENT physician. ENT or ear, throat and nose specialists offer balloon sinuplasty to unblock sinuses and facilitate drainage. The procedure is a safe, minimally invasive and does not require anesthesia or hospital stay. During a balloon sinuplasty, a small balloon catheter is inserted through the nose and into the sinuses. The balloon is inflated to enlarge the sinus opening and facilitate sinus drainage. The procedure is effective in alleviating symptoms but once again the root cause of the problem, reflux, is missed and not addressed. Consequently, several months after balloon sinuplasty, sinusitis symptoms recur.
If you struggle with cough, hoarseness, globus, sore throat, bad breath, constant throat clearing, postnasal drip and chronic rhinosinusitis consider acid reflux as a potentially curable cause for your symptoms. A properly performed hiatal hernia repair and Nissen fundoplication eliminates acid reflux. Once you stop gastric content from reaching your throat, chronic inflammation subsides, and healing begins. This approach to chronic rhinosinusitis is a cure that targets the root cause of the problem. Allergy medications like decongestants and procedures like balloon sinuplasty are a temporary solution for reflux induced rhinosinusitis.