Freeze Away Your Sniffles: How Cryotherapy Can Provide Relief for Rhinitis

November 27, 2019

Have you ever suffered from a runny nose that just won’t stop? Has it lasted for weeks on end? Chances are, you may have chronic rhinitis. It’s important to rule out whether or not it’s caused by allergies and seek the proper treatment, so you can live your best life – without a box of tissues attached at the hip.

Rhinitis – which simply means runny nose, often accompanied by nasal congestion, post-nasal drip, and similar cold-like symptoms, without the fever – can be caused by medication, blockages, hormonal changes, viral and bacterial infections, allergens, and other environmental triggers.

When seeing an ENT or allergist they will test you for allergies to determine the proper diagnosis and treatment. Common allergens include tree pollen, weed pollen, and grass pollen (which are seasonal); mold; dust mites; and pet dander. The allergic reaction begins in the airway and progresses to the symptoms listed above, explains Dr. Elina Toskala, of Jefferson Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery, Cherry Hill. 

For some people, the body reacts similarly when particles that aren’t allergens are inhaled; they are triggered by certain substances, such as perfumes, cleaning products, air pollutants, spicy foods, and even drastic temperature changes. When inhaled, the nerves in the nasal airway react and become irritated, as a defense mechanism.

“Allergic rhinitis can be effectively managed through various medications, such as nasal steroid sprays, antihistamine sprays, oral antihistamines, and allergy immunotherapy. Managing non-allergic rhinitis, on the other hand, is a little more difficult,” says Dr. Toskala.

Non-allergic rhinitis, or vasomotor rhinitis, is caused by nasal hyperactivity, and occurs more chronically than allergic. Steroid sprays may help in the short term, but at Jefferson, there is another unique, minimally invasive treatment option: cryotherapy.*

Years ago, cryotherapy devices for rhinitis focused on reducing airway resistance. Now, they’re designed to deactivate the out-of-balance nerves that cause the symptoms. For people who haven’t experienced improvement with sprays, cryotherapy may be the fix they’ve been searching for.

Criteria: A nasal endoscopy must be done prior to cryotherapy to ensure proper anatomical space in the nasal cavity to perform the procedure, as well as rule out any tumors, deviations, or infections.

What to Expect: Under local anesthesia, a small device with a thin nasal scope is inserted into the back of the naval cavity, on both sides, to freeze the nerve endings. The procedure takes about 30 minutes overall – the freezing only takes a few minutes – and the patient can leave soon after.  Cryotherapy may need to be repeated; typically, symptoms are reduced for around six months to a year. In very rare cases, the patient may experience a severe headache or “brain-freeze” sensation after the procedure, but it is short-lived.

If you’re curious about other effective and natural ways to help manage your rhinitis, both allergic and non-allergic, Dr. Toskala suggests saline sprays and rinses. “It’s key to keep the nasal cavity moist; so many environmental factors can dry it out! Additionally, saline clears out the foreign particles and allergens, helping you breathe easier.”

Don’t spend your time stuffy and sniffling, waiting for it to just go away! Be proactive and discover how you can treat your rhinitis today.

*Cryotherapy has also shown to be effective in allergic rhinitis cases that are not easily controlled with medicine. 

For more information on ENT/Otolaryngology services offered at Jefferson Health in New Jersey, click HERE.