This Cryotherapy Treatment Might Be the Solution to Your Chronic Runny Nose
It's called ClariFix—and no, it doesn't involve submerging yourself in an icy chamber.
Using cryotherapy for allergies isn't quite the same as using the procedure for muscle relief. Instead of exposing your entire body to intense cold, the treatment, called ClariFix, involves targeting and freezing certain nasal nerves to block "stuffy nose signals," according to CBS New York.
"By freezing these nerves, it stops them from firing and thus, does not signal to your nose to be congested, runny, sneeze, or produce as much mucus," says Purvi Parikh, M.D., an allergist with Allergy & Asthma Network. "It is generally best for those who suffer from year-round allergies and for whom traditional treatments with allergy medications, as well as immunotherapy (allergy shots), have failed or not been effective." (Related: Cold and Allergy Symptoms: What's the Difference?)
How ClariFix Cryotherapy Works
The procedure is "minimally invasive," says Dr. Parikh. You'll likely need local anesthesia, then an ear-nose-and-throat surgeon will insert a cryotherapy probe into your nostril. The probe will pass over and freeze the nerves in your nose that trigger annoying symptoms like a runny/stuffy nose and sneezing, she says.
Though it's not clear whether repeated treatments are needed, ClariFix's website notes that the procedure "may provide long-lasting symptom relief."
"We'll know more as we see more physicians perform the procedure," says Dr. Parikh.
Having a freezing-cold probe inside your nose might sound uncomfortable AF. But ClariFix isn't as cringy as it seems, Gregory Levitin, M.D., of New York Eye and Ear Infirmary at Mount Sinai, told CBS New York. "Patients shouldn't feel any pain, and it's very effective in almost everyone we treat," he said.
But FYI, ClariFix is "mostly for symptom management," explains Dr. Parikh. In other words, it doesn't make your allergies go away altogether (or a cold, for that matter) because allergies are driven by your immune system, and the treatment doesn't do anything to change your immune function. "For this reason, [ClariFix cryotherapy] can also sometimes work on those who have non-allergic rhinitis or [chronic] nasal symptoms," she says. (Related: 4 Surprising Things That Are Affecting Your Allergies)
What to Expect After ClariFix Cryotherapy
After the treatment, "there is minimal downtime and recovery," according to ClariFix's website. Side effects can include temporary increased congestion and slight discomfort. Overall, "most patients begin to see improvement between 2 and 6 weeks post treatment," the website notes.
If you're intrigued, be sure to reach out to your doctor to see if ClariFix can help your symptoms. Note that the treatment may not be best for people with certain health conditions, such as cryoglobulinemia, paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria, cold urticaria, Raynaud's disease, and open and/or infected wounds or other skin conditions at or near the target tissue, explains Dr. Parikh.
Also important: "Patients with diabetes, sensitivity to cold, neuropathic disorders, bleeding disorders, or impaired peripheral circulation in the area to be treated should proceed with caution," she says.