Posts for category: ENT
Do you feel like you’re constantly dealing with a stuffy nose? If so, you certainly aren’t alone. There are many people out there that feel like they can’t breathe properly due to nasal congestion. While this may be a frustrating problem and one that’s challenging to tackle on your own, an otolaryngologist can help you find the relief you need.
The two most common causes of persistent nasal congestion are chronic sinusitis and allergic rhinitis. ENT doctors are seeing more and more patients who are dealing with these conditions. In order to properly treat these conditions you should see an ear, nose and throat specialist who will be able to determine the cause of your symptoms so they can create an effective treatment plan.
What is allergic rhinitis?
If you are someone who is allergic to animal dander, dust or pollen then you may be dealing with allergic rhinitis. Being exposed to these common allergens can lead to inflammation of the nose and sinuses, which can make it difficult to breathe. Allergic rhinitis is a common condition affecting both children and adults in the US. Along with chronic nasal congestion you may also experience a runny nose, postnasal drip, coughing, itchy nose, or sneezing.
Some people experience symptoms all year round while for others their symptoms are seasonal. Seasonal allergies caused by pollen, dust mites, and cockroaches may flare up throughout the year with bouts of remission.
What is chronic sinusitis?
Most people will deal with sinusitis, or sinus infection, at least once during their lifetime; however, sometimes this condition doesn’t go away with simple at-home care and treatment. When symptoms persistent for more than 12 weeks and don’t respond to conservative care then this is considered chronic. The common symptoms of chronic sinusitis include nasal congestion or a blockage, nasal drainage, decreased sense of smell, and facial pressure.
It can be difficult to tell the difference between allergic rhinitis and chronic sinusitis. This is why it’s a good idea to visit an otolaryngologist if you are dealing with persistent nasal congestion that doesn’t go away with at-home care. Both of these conditions can be controlled through lifestyle modifications, prescription medication, minimally invasive procedures, and allergy shots. Your doctor will be able to sit down with you and discuss the different treatment options available to you.
You woke up with an intense and persistent pain in your ear. All sound is muffled and it feels like your ear is stuffed with cotton. These symptoms are likely due to an ear infection. While ear infections can happen to anyone, children are particularly prone to them. In fact, approximately three out of four children will deal with at least one ear infection by age 3.
An ear infection usually affects the middle ear. This is known as an infection of the otitis media, in which fluid and mucus block the tubes of the ears. This is why you’re having trouble hearing. While it’s easy to be able to describe symptoms you’re experiencing, it isn’t always easy for children, particularly little ones, to be able to tell you that their ear hurts.
So, how can you tell whether or not your child might have an ear infection? You’ll have to look out for:
- Tugging or pulling at the ear
- Increased crying, irritability, and fussiness
- Trouble sleeping
- Crying when lying down to sleep
- Balance issues
- Not hearing or responding to voices or sounds
If your child is displaying these symptoms it’s important to bring them in to see their otolaryngologist who will be able to examine the ear and determine whether there is an infection.
The good news is that many ear infections will go away on their own; however, our ENT doctors understand that sometimes the pain can be severe and unbearable, and you may need something to ease the pain until the infection goes away. We can certainly prescribe the right pain reliever if over-the-counter options aren’t working. In some cases, we may need to prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection.
Even though you may want to wait out an ear infection before bringing your child in, it’s important that you do visit your child’s otolaryngologist as soon as possible if their ear infection is accompanied by:
- Loss of hearing
- Discharge or blood coming from the ear
- High fever
- Severe drowsiness
- Stiff neck
- Nausea and vomiting
If your child is under 6 months old it’s important that you bring them in right away if you suspect that they have an ear infection. Otherwise, children dealing with minor symptoms that are over the age of 6 months old can often be treated with simple at-home care.
If you are unsure whether or not you should bring yourself or your child into the office, give our ENT practice a call and let us know the symptoms. We will be able to determine whether you will need immediate care or whether we should wait a couple days to see if the infection gets better on its own.
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.