As the days get longer and the weather gets warmer, people may be noticing their eyes are watering, their throat is scratchy, and their head aches. Could they be battling the common cold, suffering from allergies, or fighting a sinus infection?
Although it’s easy to try to self-diagnose, the physicians at Peak ENT and Voice Center are specially trained to identify these conditions and provide personalized treatment to help patients feel better quickly and resume an active lifestyle.
Allergies can be year round; however, most adults and children suffer the worst symptoms during the spring and summer months when the trees and grasses are pollinating. In Colorado, wildfire smoke in the summer can make allergy symptoms even worse, as the smoke can act as a powerful irritant.
“I see and treat a wide range of allergies,” said Katherine Aberle, M.D., (pronounced ABE-er-lee), an ear, nose, and throat physician at Peak ENT and Voice Center. “Even though Colorado is a dry climate, molds are an issue for many of our patients. They are often found in air condition units, bathrooms, and basements, especially following last year’s flood.”
Allergy symptoms include nasal congestion and drainage, itchy nose and sneezing, watery and itchy eyes, asthma, and skin rashes, such as eczema. Chronic sinus symptoms, such as facial pressure and headaches, nasal drainage and post nasal drip, recurrent sinus infections, and even problems with the sense of smell, can be related to allergy issues.
Since many of the symptoms for allergies and sinus infections are similar and often overlap, making an accurate diagnosis is the key to effective treatment. “We never take a cookie-cutter approach,” said J. Michael King, M.D., the founding physician of Peak ENT and Voice Center. “We work with our patients to determine the underlying cause of their symptoms and don’t like to jump to conclusions.”
One of the more advanced techniques the physicians at Peak ENT and Voice Center offer for treating allergies includes sublingual immunotherapy (drops under the tongue), which works to change the immune system at a cellular level. “Both adults and children can benefit from immunotherapy,” said Aberle. “An ideal patient is one whose allergy symptoms are bothersome and is interested in a long-term cure, as opposed to the Band-Aid therapy of antihistamines and nasal sprays. Children as young as three to four years can start immunotherapy, as they must be able to hold the drop in their mouth without swallowing for two minutes.”
Sublingual and injection immunotherapy (shots) have similar efficacy, at 80 to 90 percent cure rate for patients who have completed therapy for three to five years. “Sublingual immunotherapy is much more convenient and cost-effective than allergy shots,” said Aberle, “since it is administered by the patient at home on a daily basis, as opposed to needing weekly injections in the office.”
Depending on their insurance, patients may need to make a co-payment at each injection. The costs of injection treatment, time off from work or school, and cost of travel far exceed the cost of sublingual immunotherapy.
The physicians at Peak ENT and Voice Center, including the newest member of the medical staff, Michael C. Vidas, M.D., are board-certified otolaryngologists with up-to-date experience for treating sinus infections.
“We now have specialized scopes and cameras in the office that allow us to actually see the sinus openings,” said King. “These help us to determine the cause of the symptoms and identify which sinuses are affected. In most cases, we can perform directed cultures to diagnose whether an infection is bacterial or viral. This helps us target the treatment with appropriate antibiotics rather than empirically picking one and hoping it works.”
All three physicians at Peak ENT and Voice Center are extremely skilled and perform state-of-the-art, minimally invasive procedures for treating blocked sinuses. “Many sinus sufferers with persistent or frequent infections may be candidates for balloon sinuplasty, a new and effective procedure for relieving sinus pain,” said King. “Our patients seem to recover quicker and without the excessive pain and discomfort experienced from more traditional sinus procedures. Often, patients can have this procedure performed in the office, using a local anesthesia, which avoids the risks of general anesthesia and the costs associated with going to a hospital.”
Peak Ear, Nose, Throat & Voice Center offers a complete complement of medical services and treatments—routine and highly specialized—for children and adults affected by voice, airway, sinus, and hearing disorders. Offices are located in Broomfield behind FlatIron Crossing Mall and near Lakeshore Athletic Club, and in Golden near the Jefferson County “Taj Mahal” office complex, off of Route 6. For information and appointments, call 720-401-2139 or visit www.PeakENTandVoiceCenter.com.