44 year old female patient had been having recurrent sinus infections every month. She would get a sore throat with bad post nasal drip and cough followed by a runny nose that would lead to sinus pressure and fullness. She would get lots of mucous in her throat and need to clear it out often.This would happen every few weeks and she would end up going to Urgent Care or her primary Doctor and being told that she had a sinus infection and given antibiotics. While she would feel a little better at first the symptoms would simply come back after a period of time.
She was referred to an ENT doctor who examined her and decided to order a CT scan of her sinuses for her. The ENT advised her that the CT scan of her sinuses was essentially normal but that her exam showed evidence of silent acid reflux and possible allergies. She was tested for allergies and the results showed that she had mild allergies to dust, ragweed and trees. She was surprised to learn that allergies don’t always cause sneezing or itching eyes but can simply cause inflammation of the nose and sinuses. In addition the ENT advised her that her acid reflux was moderate and that she should be treated short term with a medication and to see a GI doctor if she does not get better. It was emphasized to her that diet and lifestyle changes were the best long term treatment for acid reflux. Again, she was surprised that even though she didn’t have any traditional symptoms like heartburn, she had an acid reflux problem that was causing her throat, nose and sinuses to get inflamed repeatedly. She was given an antacid medication to take for 4 weeks, advised to start doing saline rinses of her nose and sinuses everyday and to use a nasal spray to help her allergies.
She started adhering to a low acidic diet and decreased her coffee and alcohol intake in addition to the other measures advised and found that at 4 weeks her symptoms were remarkably better. Since she was improving the antacid medication was stopped. After 3 months, she was doing great and had stopped having any more sinus “infections”. Her throat felt very clear and her ability to breath through her nose was never better. She was also referred to an allergist who was able to develop a plan for her where she would not have use her allergy medications all the time.