Posts for category: ENT Health
There are many ear, nose and throat problems that could benefit from surgery.
While surgery is often something that most people hope to avoid, there are some situations in which your otolaryngologist may advise you as to whether your next step in your treatment plan is actually to get surgery. While non-surgical treatment is almost always the answer, surgery can also finally provide those chronic and severe sufferers with the relief they’ve finally been hoping for.
When you are dealing with any ear, nose or throat problems it’s always best to turn to an otolaryngologist to treat your symptoms. Whether you are dealing with tonsil problems or sinus issues, they can help get these conditions under control. While many of these health problems won’t require surgery, they may be necessary if traditional methods aren’t providing you with relief. These conditions include:
- Hearing or balance problems
- Chronic or persistent ear infections
- Chronic sinusitis
- Thyroid problems
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Esophagus problems
By seeking care from a medical professional right away an otolaryngologist can easily determine the cause of your condition so that they can create a treatment plan that will finally provide you with the relief you’ve been looking for. In some cases, diagnostic imaging (e.g. X-rays, CT scan) may be necessary in order to make a definitive diagnosis.
In most instances, the treatment plan you receive in the beginning will provide you with a list of conservative, non-surgical options for tackling and managing your symptoms. While many people will find that these plans work perfectly for them, there are some whose conditions are so severe or long-term that the best option is surgery.
Fortunately, ear, nose and throat surgery has come a long way over the years and now otolaryngologists can offer:
- Both regular and endoscopic sinus surgery
- Surgery to correct breathing disorders
- Surgery to treat sleep disorders like sleep apnea
- Surgery to remove infected tonsils
- Surgery to correct congenital deformities
Whether you have questions about head and neck surgery or you are dealing with serious long-term sinusitis issues, it’s important that you have an ENT specialist that you can go to whenever you have questions, concerns or treatment needs.
- Pain in your upper jaws or teeth, eyes, nose or forehead
- A yellowish-green discharge when you blow your nose
- Congestion caused from swelling in your sinuses
- Severe headaches and earaches
- A sore throat and persistent cough
- Use a humidifier, especially in your bedroom; this keeps the air in your house moist, which soothes your sinuses. Dry air irritates your nasal passages and can cause increased mucus production, resulting in congestion and a sinus infection.
- Try an over-the-counter nasal irrigation kit; these kits, when used daily, can keep your nasal passages clean and free of mucus so bacteria won’t have a place to breed, causing a sinus infection. The saline solution also works to soothe your nasal passages.
- Wash your hands often, and don’t touch your face, nose, mouth or eyes; this helps to prevent spreading germs and bacteria to other places of your body.
- Stop smoking, because it increases mucus production and irritates your sinuses, providing an environment perfect for bacteria.
- Avoid alcohol, because alcohol can make your sinuses irritated and swollen, resulting in a sinus infection.
- Eat healthy and take your vitamins, especially vitamin C, and get sufficient exercise to keep your immune system at its peak so you can fight off a sinus infection.
What is Thyroid Cancer?
Thyroid cancer involves having cancerous cells and tissue where your thyroid gland is located. The thyroid is a gland at the base of your neck, right below your Adam’s apple. This gland produces important hormones to regulate your blood pressure, heart rate, weight, and your body temperature.
You may be at higher risk of thyroid cancer if you are a woman, have a family history of thyroid cancer, or have had high levels of exposure to radiation.
There are several types of thyroid cancer, including:
- Papillary thyroid cancer, which is the most common type; it shows up in follicular cells which make and store the thyroid hormones. Papillary thyroid cancer is more common in people aged 30 to 50.
- Follicular thyroid cancer, which also occurs in the follicular cells; this type of thyroid cancer typically happens to people over age 50.
- Medullary thyroid cancer, which starts in the C cells; the cells that produce the hormone calcitonin; if calcitonin levels are elevated, it can indicate medullary thyroid cancer.
- Anaplastic thyroid cancer, which is a rare, fast-growing form of thyroid cancer; this type of thyroid cancer typically affects people who are at least 60 years old.
- Thyroid lymphoma, which is a rare type of thyroid cancer starting in the immune system cells; thyroid lymphoma typically happens to older adults.
Thyroid cancer often has mild or no symptoms, but there are a few recognizable signs and symptoms to pay attention to. According to the Mayo Clinic, some common signs and symptoms of thyroid cancer include:
- Swollen lymph nodes in your neck
- Pain in your neck or throat
- Pain or difficulty swallowing
- Chronically hoarse voice
- A lump in your neck
Thyroid cancer treatment works best in the early stages of the disease. Your doctor may recommend these effective treatments for thyroid cancer:
- Surgical procedures, to remove a portion or all of your thyroid gland and associated lymph nodes
- Radioactive iodine therapy, to destroy remaining thyroid tissue to prevent the cancer from spreading
- Thyroid hormone treatment, to replace missing thyroid hormone
Your thyroid performs an important function by producing hormones which are vital to the proper functioning of your body. You can help protect your thyroid by visiting your doctor regularly for a physical examination and lab testing if necessary.
A canker sore is a painful ulcer that often develops within the mouth or tongue, but can also be found within the throat or on the lips. Canker sores should not be confused with cold sores (fever blisters), which are the result of a virus. There are several factors that can lead to canker sores, from spicy foods and vitamin deficiencies to stress or certain disorders.
While canker sores are benign and don’t require treatment, most of the time people are looking for ways to reduce canker sore pain until the sore heals on its own. There are two types of canker sores: simple and complex. Simple canker sores only appear a few times a year, usually lasting up to one or two weeks. Complex canker sores, on the other hand, aren’t as common and appear more frequently.
What causes canker sores?
While experts still don’t know what causes canker sores, we do know that there are certain things that can trigger the development of a sore. This includes:
- Spicy foods
- Acidic foods (e.g. lemons; tomatoes)
- Nutritional deficiencies (e.g. zinc; vitamin B-12)
- Minor injuries to the mouth (e.g. biting your cheek)
- Food sensitivities
- Hormonal changes
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Poor or weak immune system
- Celiac disease
When should I see a doctor?
It might be time to consult an ENT doctor if you are noticing:
- Sores that last several weeks
- Recurrent outbreaks
- Pain that isn’t responding to at-home care
- Severe pain that affects eating
- Extremely large sores
- Sores accompanied by a high fever
What are some ways to treat canker sores?
Most of the time canker sores do not require any treatment; however, if you are dealing with extremely large, painful or numerous sores then you may need to seek care from an ENT physician. Since canker sores will heal on their own, your doctor’s goal will be to help manage your pain through common treatment options such as:
- Topical medications: Over-the-counter or prescription medications can be used to numb the pain or even speed up the healing process.
- Oral rinses: To reduce inflammation or to numb the pain a doctor may prescribe a special mouth rinse.
- Oral medications: If canker sores aren’t responsive to other treatment options, oral medications may be recommended. Such options include steroids.
- Supplements: If your canker sores are the result of a nutritional deficiency then a doctor may recommend taking certain vitamins or supplements such as folic acid, vitamin B-12 or zinc.
If you are dealing with painful canker sores that you can’t seem to get under control then it’s time to turn to an ear, nose & throat specialist who can provide you with the answers you’re looking for.
Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders and yet it’s one that isn’t as often diagnosed since most people don’t even know that they have it. When someone has sleep apnea the airways collapse multiple times throughout the night. As a result, this causes interrupted breathing. Since not enough oxygen is getting to the brain you can imagine the many health issues this problem could cause if left untreated.
So, what are some telltale signs that you have sleep apnea?
One of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea is loud snoring. While not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, most sleep apnea sufferers are also frequent snorers. Along with snoring, your partner may also notice that you might gasp for air in the middle of the night or that your breathing is paused.
The sleep apnea sufferer will complain of extreme fatigue throughout the day. Even if you get enough sleep you may still find it difficult to get out of bed (or you may experience headaches in the morning). While most people feel tired at some point during the day, a true sleep apnea sufferer has intense exhaustion that doesn’t seem to let up.
Sleep apnea can make it more difficult for you to concentrate. You may find that you aren’t able to complete work as efficiently as you should. You may nod off at your desk or while driving home from work. Sleep apnea can be dangerous because it can increase your risk of injury.
How is sleep apnea treated?
It’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible to prevent health complications and other issues from happening. The most common treatment for sleep apnea is CPAP therapy. By placing this facemask over your nose and mouth as you sleep, it provides enough air pressure to keep the airways open and to prevent them from collapsing. This is the number one treatment option for obstructive sleep apnea.
Of course, sometimes an oral appliance device is all that you need if you only have minor or moderate sleep apnea. This device is custom-made to fit your mouth and can be used on its own or along with CPAP therapy to help you enjoy a better night’s sleep.
If you think you might have sleep apnea it’s important that you get this evaluated as soon as possible. Talk to our ENT doctor about how we can help you.