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.
Head and neck cancers affect more than 55,000 Americans every year and can develop anywhere in the mouth, nose, throat, and sinuses. Early diagnosis is important for ensuring the best possible prognosis. Regular checkups with an ear, nose and throat physician, also called an otolaryngologist, can increase the likelihood of early diagnosis. The otolaryngologist can look for signs of head and neck cancer during your exam. At Midwest Ear, Nose, and Throat, in Chicago, IL Dr. Gordon Siegel is your otolaryngologist for the diagnosis and treatment of head and neck cancer.
Several different symptoms can develop when head and neck cancer is present. If these symptoms develop, it is important to schedule an exam with a doctor as soon as possible. The sooner cancer is diagnosed and treatment begins, the better the prognosis for beating the cancer. Symptoms and signs of head and neck cancer include:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Ear pain when swallowing
- Swelling inside the mouth
- A growth inside the mouth
- A persistent lump in the neck
- Blood in the saliva or phlegm
- Voice changes that persist for more than two weeks
- Changes in the skin on the face, forehead or ears
Certain habits can increase the risk of developing head and neck cancer. Regular consumption of alcohol and the use of tobacco products both increase the risk of developing head and neck cancer. All types of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products can increase risk.
Diagnosis and Treatment
When symptoms of head and neck cancer develop, several different types of medical tests can be performed to determine if cancer is present. Such tests include a head an neck exam, biopsy, CT scan, and MRI scan. If medical tests indicate cancer is present, treatment options include surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. A Chicago head and neck cancer specialist can discuss which treatment methods are recommended based on your individual situation and what stage the cancer is at.
Knowing the signs of head and neck cancer helps with early diagnosis, which can give you the best prognosis. For the diagnosis and treatment of head and neck cancer in Chicago, IL, schedule an appointment with Dr. Siegel by calling Midwest Ear Nose and Throat at (312) 988-7777.
It started as a small itch, but now it’s completely bloomed into a sore throat. Do you know the best way to treat it? No matter the cause, your doctor can help you alleviate the pain.
What Could Be Causing Your Sore Throat
The first step in figuring out how to treat your sore throat is determining its source. A sore throat can be a symptom of many different issues, such as smoking or allergies, but the three most common causes are—
A cold: Often, a sore throat is just the first sign of a viral cold. You’ll know if this is the case for you if the pain subsides after a day or two and if you begin exhibiting other cold symptoms, like a runny nose or cough.
Strep throat: Caused by an infection of the streptococcus bacteria passed through saliva and nasal secretions, strep throat is a more severe cause of a sore throat. Other symptoms common to it are white spots on your throat area, fever, and swollen lymph nodes in your neck.
Tonsillitis: This is a very painful sore throat caused by an inflammation of the tonsils from an infection by viruses or bacteria. Tonsillitis’s biggest additional symptom is swollen tonsils with white or yellow spots, but others are bad breath and an impaired voice from the swelling.
What You Can Do at Home
If your sore throat is caused by a virus, there isn’t much you can do other than let the virus run its course. But no matter what is causing your sore throat, there are steps you can take at home to ease your pain and help you get better, including:
- Get plenty of sleep and avoid speaking more than necessary
- Drink lots of fluids to keep your throat moist and you hydrated. Just avoid dehydrating liquids like coffee and alcohol.
- Stick to soothing foods and beverages. This includes warm liquids like soup or water with honey and cool treats like Jell-O or ice cream.
- Gargle with saltwater—¼–½tspn sea salt to 4–8oz warm water.
Lozenges and over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can also help alleviate a sore throat, but be cautious if you’re treating your child.
Treatment from Your Doctor
You should see your doctor as soon as possible if you are dealing with a severe or persistent sore throat. A rapid strep test is often needed to diagnose strep throat, and only your doctor can tell for sure if you have tonsillitis and if it is from a bacteria or virus. If the cause of a sore throat is bacteria, your doctor will prescribe you antibiotics like penicillin or amoxicillin to kill it. Always take all of the medication as prescribed, even if you already feel better, and stay home until 24 hours after starting the antibiotic.
Sore throats can definitely be painful but they don’t have to be frustrating or a cause for worry. If you have any questions or concerns about a sore throat or any other symptoms, don’t hesitate to call your doctor today.
Ear infections can be quite the nuisance, particularly if it’s something that your little one deals with often. While anyone can develop ear infections, babies and young children are at an increased risk for ear infections. Since children’s Eustachian tubes (a structure that connects the middle ear with the pharynx, the cavity that lies behind the nose and mouth) aren’t fully developed it makes it easier for factors such as a common cold to lead to blocked Eustachian tubes and ear infections.
If there is a family history of ear infections, if your child is exposed to secondhand smoke or if your child develops colds and flus regularly then they may be at an increased risk for an ear infection. The most common types of ear infections are a middle ear infection, swimmer’s ear (which affects the outer ear canal), and labyrinthitis (causes inflammation of the inner ear or nerves of the inner ear).
Of course, babies and toddlers won’t be able to tell you that they are experiencing ear pain; however, there are other signs to look out for, including:
- Tugging or pulling at the ear
- Drainage coming from the ear
- Increased irritability or crying more often
- Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
- Increased fussiness or clinginess
- Lack of energy
If your child is displaying any of these symptoms it’s a good idea to take them in to see their pediatrician. Of course, if your child is often dealing with recurring or severe ear infections, visiting an otolaryngologist might be the best medical professional to help you figure out what’s causing these frequent infections and how to put a stop to them.
Of course, adults may also face ear infections. You may wake up in the middle of the night with an ear that is throbbing and painful. If this is the case, turning to an ENT doctor can help alleviate your symptoms. Depending on the type and severity of you or your little one’s ear infection, an ENT specialist will tell you whether or not antibiotics will be necessary for fighting the infection.
Taking over-the-counter pain relievers and applying a warm compress to the ear can also help you manage your discomfort until the ear infection goes away. Leaving an ear infection untreated is never a good idea, as it can lead to complications such as hearing loss. This is why it’s important that you or your child receive the proper medical attention necessary if you suspect an ear infection.
Snoring and sleep apnea can affect the quality of your sleep and may even increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. Fortunately, treatment options offered by ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctors can help. Dr. Gordon Siegel of Midwest Ear Nose and Throat in Chicago, IL helps patients affected by snoring, sleep apnea and other conditions breathe (and sleep) easier.
How can I tell if I need treatment?
Nearly everyone snores at some point, although some of us would rather not admit it. Occasional snoring isn't a problem, particularly if you're sick or a little congested. Snoring only becomes a health issue when it's associated with sleep apnea. Sleep apnea occurs when your airway becomes fully or partially blocked while you sleep, causing pauses in your breathing. The blockage can occur if your throat falls back against your throat or if the walls of your throat become so relaxed that they close completely.
Luckily, your body leaps in high alert when it detects that you've stopped breathing and prompts you to take a breath. Gasping or choking isn't the most comfortable way to be woken, but it does restart your breathing very effectively. Other possible signs of sleep apnea include daytime fatigue, depression, irritability, difficulty concentrating, dry mouth, sore throat, weight gain or headaches.
What treatments are available in the Chicago area?
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines are often used to relieve snoring and sleep apnea symptoms. CPAP machines force a steady flow of air into your throat, preventing the airway from becoming blocked. Although the machines definitely work, your machine is not as helpful if you don't use it because you find it too uncomfortable or loud.
Oral appliance therapy offers another option if you don't like CPAP machines or are looking for a more low-tech option. It is also sometimes used in conjunction with CPAP treatment. The appliance fits over your teeth and keeps your airway open by holding your jaw forward, which prevents your tongue from falling back into your throat. The device is custom-made to fit your mouth, ensuring a comfortable fit while you sleep.
Snoring and sleep apnea treatment can improve your sleep and your health. Call ENT specialist Dr. Gordon Siegel of Midwest Ear Nose and Throat in Chicago, IL at (312) 988-7777 to schedule your appointment.
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