Hay fever helped by radiofrequency surgery

As an alternative to antihistamine and corticosteroid medication some hay fever sufferers undergo surgery to reduce the size of the mucose membranes in the nose which swell when  they are irritated by pollen or dust, but this surgery is invasive and can have unpleasant side effects. However a new alternative is  radiofrequency treatment which works by heating up the tissue underneath the mucous membrane, reducing its size and killing the small blood vessels that would otherwise lead extra blood to the irritated area.

In a new study, researchers followed patients for five years after they had been treated by Dr. Hsin-Ching Lin at Chang Gung University College of Medicine in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Seventeen of 119 patients (14%) did not respond to the procedure and went on to have more invasive surgeries. Of the others more than 75% felt that at least one of their symptoms (sneezing, stuffy nose and itchy eyes) had improved when evaluated half a year later.

After five years, about six in 10 said they were still experiencing improvements and no one reported any side effects. All symptoms showed decreases when rated by the patients, and 57% of the patients said they would have the procedure done again.

The researchers didn't include a control group, but a shorter study from 2004 found radiofrequency surgery was better than a sham procedure at reducing congestion and easing breathing. The cost of the procedures is estimated to be around the same as six months’ worth of medical treatment.

Archives of Otolaryngology--Head & Neck Surgery, September, 2010.

Click here for more research on possible treatments for hay fever

First Published in September 2010

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