Midwest Voice Conference : Rhinology and The Voice

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Doc, I’ve Got Sinus!

Learn all about:

  • How allergies develop
  • Treatment options
  • Dr. Stephanie Joe gives us the rundown on runny noses in this excerpt from her presentation at the Midwest Voice Conference in Chicago.

What’s Rhinology?

The study of the function and physiology of:
– the nose
– nasal cavities
– paranasal sinuses
And its diseases

What Does Your Nose Do?

Your nose:

  • Regulates temperature
  • Is a humidifier
  • Filters and removes particulate matter
  • Provides defense against infections

Nasal Problems Affect the Voice

As voice actors and professional voice users, you know that the ears, nose and throat are all connected, and when one suffers, it takes a toll on the entire system. When your nose is battling an infection, the following symptoms present themselves:

  • Hoarseness
  • Throat clearing
  • Thick drainage
  • “Nasal Voice”
  • Poor resonance
  • Poor lung function

Who Here Hasn’t Had a Cold? Silence…. That’s What I thought!

Colds are annoying and oftentimes they manifest themselves through:

  • Runny nose
  • Stuffy nose
  • Congestion
  • Sore throat
  • Fevers
  • Body aches

You Can Treat Colds By:

  • Having proper hygiene
  • Drinking plenty of fluids
  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Consuming some Chicken Soup (there’s actually science that says it works!)
  • Expect recovery to take 7-10 days

Doc, I Got Sinus!

Sometimes when people think they have sinus issues, what they really have is Rhinitis.

  • Inflammation and/or irritation of the nasal passages
  • May or may not involve the sinuses
  • Sinusitis – refers to inflammation of the sinus cavities

When Is It an Allergy?

You could be suffering from an allergy when any or all of the following are present:

  • Watery, itchy eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Runny, itchy nose
  • Ears, throat itch
  • Dark circles under the eyes

It’s Definitely an Allergy When:

Symptoms stop when there is no contact with irritant

  • No fevers or aches
  • If it’s seasonal
  • There are no other sick family members

What Causes Allergic Rhinitis?

  • Trees
  • Grasses
  • Weeds
  • Pollen
  • Dust
  • Molds
  • Cats, Dogs
  • Feathers
    These triggers can be single or multiple.


Dr. Joe recommends the following when treating your allergies:

  • Avoidance
  • Environmental changes
  • Medications
  • Immunotherapy


Stay away from the irritant (allergen)!

  • Spring – trees
  • Summer – grasses
  • Fall – weeds
  • Winter – dust, molds

14 Tips for Avoidance and Environment:

  • Keep windows and doors closed during season
  • Stay indoors
  • Wear a pollen mask when gardening or housecleaning
  • High-efficiency vacuum
  • Remove upholstery, carpeting, drapery
  • Electrostatic filters, change / clean monthly, air purifier, HEPA units
  • Wrap mattress and box springs in hypoallergenic coverings
  • Wash bed linens in hot water every two weeks
  • Change from feather and wool to cotton or syntheticsLow humidity
  • Clean sources of mildew, like your fridge, remove indoor plants
  • Ventilate damp areas such as the bathroom and laundry
  • No dander producing animals (cats, dogs)
  • No smoking

Have Questions about Allergies, Allergy Testing or Immunotherapy?

Contact your doctor for more information or consult a voice clinic such as the Chicago Institute for Voice Care.

About Stephanie Joe, MD

Assistant Professor
Director, Sinus & Nasal Allergy Center
University of Illinois at Chicago
Dr. Joe is an Otolaryngologist certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology, sub-specializing in rhinology, sinus surgery, and nasal surgery. She is trained in treating a variety of nasal and sinus problems. Her expertise is in the minimally invasive surgical treatment of nasal and sinus problems.

Any Comments?

I’d love to hear from you!
Best wishes,

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  • Jerome Santucci
    August 15, 2008, 10:07 am

    I have some mild allergies, and I’ve found doing “neti” twice a day really helps. Neti is a saline rinse for the sinuses. It helps clear out the sinuses and also seems to reduce sinus inflammation. Some people claim it is a miracle cure and you will never have to take antihistamines again. I haven’t found it to be quite that effective, but it does help a lot (my wife says my snoring is also greatly reduced). If you want to try it, I suggest getting a saline nasal rinse kit. They come with a squeeze bottle (which is much easier to use that a neti pot) and packets of salts that have been purified and mixed just for this purpose (table salt has minerals like iodine added and sea salts can have lots of other minerals in them, so avoid those). The packets also ensure you are getting the right salinity level. You can do more harm than good using a solution that is too salty or not salty enough. The kits run between $10 and $20 and come with enough packets for one month of twice a day rinses.

  • voicedoc
    August 18, 2008, 11:58 am

    Here’s link to the product. As an allergy sufferer I’ve also used many products and this one fits my hand and nose better than some of the others. It helps me with post-nasal drip and congestion.