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Sinus Suffering? Breaking the Cycle of Chronic Illness

Thursday, November 21, 2019 11:18 AM

Dominique Martin was born with a song in her heart. “My mom told me I've been singing since the day I arrived,” mused Martin, who is now a middle school music teacher and busy mom of a 3 ½-year-old daughter. But a severe combination of asthma and allergies had left the 39-year-old Martin of Rogers Park singing the blues.

To make matters worse, she was regularly exposed to colds and upper respiratory infections at school, and her young daughter brought home viruses she picked up at daycare. It was a seemingly endless cycle of misery.

Dominique Martin

At Her Wit's End
“There was an entire year of nonstop illness,” Martin recalled. She exceeded her sick days at work and was forced to leave a choir she had sung with for 13 years. “I was desperate and traumatized, and I thought to myself: ‘This just isn’t okay.’”

Eager for relief, Martin made an appointment at NorthShore’s Comprehensive Sinus and Allergy Clinic. Allergist and Immunologist Ewa Schafer, MD, and Otolaryngologist Joseph Raviv, MD, spearhead the program for patients with unmanageable asthma, allergies and sinus conditions. Both physicians hold academic appointments at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.

“Dominique had been treated extensively but wasn’t getting better,” explained Dr. Raviv. “Our multidisciplinary approach allows us to more accurately diagnose a patient’s unique condition and then customize an effective treatment plan to turn it around.” In Martin’s case, the specialists uncovered a myriad of factors: from environmental allergies to a deviated septum and even nasal polyps—all impacting her ability to breathe, and ultimately sing.

Perfect Attendance at Last
Drs. Raviv and Schafer created a tailored care plan for Martin that included sinus surgery, allergy shots and immunologic therapy to boost her body’s natural defenses against disease.

“We felt sinus surgery with Dr. Raviv was an integral step toward improving Dominique’s health,” noted Dr. Schafer. “Her asthma is under control, and her allergy shot schedule has gone from weekly to monthly. She has infections less often—and when she does—they’re managed more easily with less medication and within a shorter period of time.”

Talk about a turnaround! Martin did not miss a single day of school last year due to asthma or sinus infections.

“Dr. Schafer and Dr. Raviv’s team approach completely changed my life for the better,” exclaimed a happier and heathier Martin. “I’m singing again—both on the job and with my choir. It’s been awesome!”