Posts for category: ENT
Head and neck cancers aren’t as often talked about or publicized as much as other types of cancer, but it doesn’t make these any less serious. Regardless of whether a member of your family has been diagnosed with head and neck cancer or you are experiencing some worrisome symptoms of your own, it’s important that you have an ENT specialist on your side to provide you with the care you need.
Head and neck cancer is an umbrella term that encompasses five different kinds of cancers that affect the pharynx (throat), sinuses, larynx (voice box), mouth, and the salivary glands.
Cancer can develop anywhere on the lips or inside the mouth. You may notice a red or white patch, or a lump, in your mouth that doesn’t go away. You may notice facial swelling, particularly around the jaw. You may also have difficulty swallowing or chewing. While a dentist can often pinpoint these early warning signs during a routine dental exam, if they suspect that it might be cancerous they may also turn to an ENT doctor for further medical care.
The pharynx runs from your nose to the esophagus and cancer of the throat can cause difficulty breathing or swallowing, persistent or severe throat pain, ringing in the ears, or difficulty hearing.
Cancer of the Larynx
The voice box (this includes your vocal chords and a structure known as the epiglottis) can also develop cancer. Symptoms are similar to pharyngeal cancer, as you may experience difficulty or painful swallowing or ear pain. You may also notice changes to your voice include chronic hoarseness. It may also feel as if a lump is constantly in your throat.
Cancer of the Salivary Glands
The salivary glands, as you may have already guessed, are responsible for the production of saliva. These glands are found in the mouth close to the jawbone. Signs of salivary gland cancer include persistent or severe jawbone and facial pain, muscle numbness, or weakness in the face, as well as swelling near the jawbone.
Paranasal Sinus and Nasal Cavity Cancer
It’s important to recognize that the symptoms of nasal cavity cancer are similar to a lot of other less serious condition; however, it’s important to seek medical attention from an ENT specialist if you notice these symptoms:
- Chronic or recurring nosebleeds
- Chronic or severe nasal blockages or sinus infections
- Facial swelling, particularly around the nose and eyes
- Recurring pain in the upper teeth
Do you have questions about head and neck cancer? Are you experiencing any symptoms that give you pause? If so, this is the perfect time to turn to an otolaryngologist who can provide you with the diagnostic care and treatment you need.
If you’ve ever watched a boxing or MMA fight on television then chances are good that you may have noticed something a bit odd and maybe a bit disturbing about some of the fighters—their ears. Some fights have what is called “cauliflower ear” in which the outer ears have become deformed due to blunt-force trauma. This is most common in athletes who wrestle, box or are involved in contact sports (e.g. rugby). When someone develops auricular hematoma the goal is to always treat the problem right away to prevent cauliflower ear from happening in the future.
While wearing the proper headgear and protection can often prevent an auricular hematoma, sometimes injuries to the outer ear can still occur. When this hematoma surfaces the blood starts to collect, causing the cartilage and the connective tissue around it (perichondrium) to separate. If left untreated, the cartilage of the outer ear no longer gets the blood flow it needs, which leads to cartilage death (necrosis).
If this happens to you or someone you know it’s important that you seek treatment right away so that the ear can be properly drained and to prevent blood from collecting inside the ear. By coming in right away for medical care, an ENT doctor can prevent complications such as cartilage necrosis, infection, tympanic membrane rupture and cauliflower ear.
In order to properly drain the hematoma, this minor procedure is performed with a local anesthesia. Once the ear is numb, a small incision is made to the outer ear to drain the blood that has collected. Once the procedure is finished, there are several methods for which to bandage the ear.
Of course, one of the most common ways is to use thermoplastic splints, which prevent blood from re-accumulating within the ear. In other instances, a simple mattress suture is placed, which also prevents blood from collecting but doesn’t need to be removed (unlike splints). Once the sutures or splints have been placed, the ear will be covered with clean gauze. Finally, the head is wrapped in order to hold the gauze in place.
Before you leave, your ENT doctor will provide you with all the information you will need for how to keep the ear clean and protected as it heals. Just know that this kind of damage to the ear can be serious if left untreated. If you experienced this kind of trauma it’s important that you seek the guidance of an otolaryngologist right away so that we can tend to this traumatic injury and prevent complications.
While hearing loss—to some degree—is fairly common as we get older, it doesn’t mean that younger adults can’t also experience some form of hearing loss. Whether you are concerned that your hearing is declining or you are trying to prevent hearing loss from happening to you, here are some reasons why this problem can occur earlier on in life.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
One of the most common reasons people develop hearing loss is exposure to loud and harmful noises. A lot of these noises are present in our environment such as the construction happening right outside our apartment or the traffic jam you always seem to get stuck in at rush hour. Repeated exposure to these harmful elements can lead to noise-induced hearing loss (NIFL). Everyone from children and teens to adults can develop this form of hearing loss.
In some cases, NIFL is caused by exposure to one extremely loud sound (e.g. explosion), while other times it’s due to repeated, long-term exposure to harmful noises. Everything from hunting to using a lawnmower can put your hearing at risk.
Luckily, NIFL is preventable. It’s important to understand that certain noises can be dangerous to your hearing. By incorporating more hearing-friendly practices into your day-to-day life you could reduce your risk of hearing loss. Besides knowing what sounds are harmful to your ears, it’s important that you consider wearing some kind of protection (e.g. ear plugs) when exposed to these noises. If you don’t have protection and can’t reduce the sound, try to stay as far away from it as possible.
Injuries the eardrum, sudden changes in pressure or even loud noises can cause the eardrum to rupture. Sometimes an undetected ear infection can also cause this problem. As a result, hearing can be affected.
While sometimes hearing loss after a ruptured eardrum is only temporary if the eardrum doesn’t heal properly or isn’t treated this could lead to repeated ear infections which, over time, could cause permanent hearing loss. If you are someone who is prone to infections, or if you think your eardrum has ruptured, it’s important that you turn to an ENT doctor right away.
If you aren’t able to hear people as clearly as you once did it’s important that you get a hearing screening as soon as possible. The sooner you seek care the sooner you can get the treatment you need to prevent your hearing loss from getting worse. Turn to an otolaryngologist today.
While it might not seem like there is a purpose behind why your ear produces earwax, there most certainly is. Even though a lot of people try to clean out their ears on their own, it’s important to remember that ears are self-cleaning. This means that the earwax will typically just come out on its own. Of course, there are times when earwax can become impacted or blocked, which can temporarily cause muffled hearing and discomfort.
Why does impacted earwax happen? There are a few things that could be to blame but one of the most common causes is at-home ear cleanings. While it might seem rather unhygienic, you don’t need to clean your ears, and should never place a cotton swab into the ear canal as you risk damaging or injuring your ear. One look at the package of cotton swabs and you’ll see that it states that you should never place it in your ear. Plus, these swabs can end up just pushing earwax deeper into your ear, which can lead to pain and other problems.
If you have a narrow ear canal or if you are older you may be more prone to earwax impactions. If this is the case, you may want to visit an ENT doctor rather regularly for proper earwax removal. You may also find that you are prone to earwax buildup if you constantly place things in your ears, whether you often use headphones or a hearing aid.
Fortunately, an otolaryngologist will often treat earwax impaction through prescription-strength eardrops that will successfully breakup the wax. Of course, if this treatment doesn’t work then you may need to come in so that we can safely and effectively wash out your ears and dislodge the earwax completely.
Remember to never try to remove the earwax buildup yourself, as they could just end up causing more issues in the long run. While there are kits that you can use at home to help irrigate and clean out the ears, if you aren’t noticing a change in your symptoms after three days it’s a good idea to visit your otolaryngologist for care.
There are several techniques for removing wax, from irrigating the ear to using a painless suctioning device. The earwax treatment we recommend for you will depend on several factors such as health and structure of your ear.
If you are dealing with earwax impaction then it’s time you turned to an otolaryngologist who can safely remove the buildup.
If you’ve ever suffered from a stuffy nose, facial pain, and pressure around the nose, cheeks, and eyes, or experienced postnasal drip (in which nasal mucus drains down your throat), then you’ve experienced a sinus infection before. A sinus infection, also known as sinusitis, occurs when the nasal passages become inflamed or irritated. Sometimes an infection can be so bad that the inflammation can actually block these airways. Acute forms of this infection often come about after a cold; however, those with nasal polyps or a deviated septum may be prone to recurring bouts of sinusitis.
Acute sinusitis can last anywhere from two to four weeks and the condition will often clear up by itself. Of course, sometimes it’s necessary to see an otolaryngologist for treatment. For example, it’s a good idea to call a specialist if you’ve been trying to handle your symptoms at home but they haven’t improved after a few days. You should also schedule an appointment if symptoms get worse.
To manage symptoms of acute sinusitis you may try over-the-counter decongestants and nasal sprays to help reduce inflammation and drain the sinuses. If these medications don’t improve symptoms within a couple of days then you may need a stronger medication such as corticosteroids. In some cases, antibiotics may actually be necessary to clear the infection.
Chronic sinus infections last more than 12 weeks and most sufferers experience the exact same symptoms as those with acute sinusitis such as nasal congestion, facial pressure, or a partial or complete blockage of the nasal cavity. It’s important that you visit an ENT doctor as soon as possible to find out what your treatment options are. In some cases, a prescription medication along with over-the-counter medications and alternative remedies can help ease symptoms until the problem subsides. In more severe cases, the patient may need to consider more aggressive measures.
In the past, the only option for those dealing with severe and chronic sinus infections was to undergo surgery. Luckily, technology has come a long way and now ENT specialists can also offer a simple non-surgical procedure known as balloon sinuplasty. No incisions or cutting is required; the only tool used is a small flexible tube with a deflated balloon at the end of it.
The tube is carefully guided into the obstructed nasal passage where the balloon is inflated to open up the airways and drain the sinuses. Once this occurs, the scope is removed but the airways remain open. The side effects from this procedure are minimal and most patients can return to their normal activities 2 days later.
Of course, sometimes it’s necessary to perform sinus surgery to effectively treat chronic sinusitis. To decide the right treatment option for you, it’s important to schedule a consultation with an otolaryngologist you trust.