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.
Maybe you didn’t even notice it but other members of your family pointed out the fact that you need to blast the TV in order to hear it or that you have to asked people to repeat themselves quite often. If people often sound like they are mumbling or difficult to understand then you could be dealing with hearing loss. Approximately 48 million Americans deal with some degree of hearing loss. If you are part of this statistic then it’s important that you turn to an otolaryngologist you can trust.
While you may not realize it, an ENT doctor is exactly the specialist you want on your side to not only diagnose your hearing loss but also to provide the hearing aid you need to improve your hearing. While a hearing aid is not designed to restore hearing it can help amplify certain sounds to make hearing much easier.
There are a variety of different hearing aid options available to you, and the style you choice will really depend on your goals, lifestyle, degree of hearing loss, budget and any special features you are looking for. Common hearing aids styles include:
Invisible-in-the-Canal (IIC): Just as the name suggests, this style of hearing aid is placed deep within the ear canal so it’s completely invisible. It’s a great option for those with mild-to-moderate hearing loss.
Completely-in-Canal (CIC): Also good for mild-to-moderate hearing loss, this style will allow the hearing aid to be completely invisible within the ear canal. The only difference is that a clear tab on the hearing aid is used to place and remove it.
In-the-Canal (ITC): A small portion of this hearing aid is visible but it is flesh-colored so it won’t be obvious to those around you. It’s a great style for those dealing with mild to severe hearing loss.
In-the-Ear (ITE): This style is also capable of handling a wide variety of hearing loss, from mild to severe. This hearing aid is custom-made to fit the outer area of the ear rather than sitting within the ear canal.
Receiver-in-Canal (RIC): This allows the speaker to sit within the ear canal where it is out of sight; however, the speaker is connected to the amplifier (which sits behind the ear) by wires rather than tubing. It’s a discreet option for those with mild-to-severe hearing loss.
Behind-the-Ear (BTE): This type of hearing aid allows the speaker to lie hidden within the ear canal. The speaker is attached to a clear, thin tube that is connected to the amplifier, which sits behind the ear. This is a great option for those with moderate-to-severe hearing loss.
It’s important to find the right hearing aid to fit your unique needs, and an ENT doctor can provide you with the quality hearing aid you’re looking for so that you can be part of the conversation again.
Do you find that certain times of the year it’s difficult to go outdoors without developing watery itchy eyes or sneezing your head off? Does coming in contact with your friends’ pets leave you dealing with red itchy welts on your skin and a runny nose? If you said “yes” to these questions, you could very well be dealing with allergies.
While there isn’t a cure for allergies, there are many ways to treat this issue. If you aren’t finding relief through over-the-counter antihistamines, nasal sprays, and other allergy medications, it’s time to turn to an otolaryngologist for help. It’s important that you don’t just ignore your allergy symptoms, as they can often get worse if left untreated.
First and foremost, it’s important to figure out what is causing your allergy symptoms to flare-up. Everything from pollen, mold dust, dust mites, dander, and mildew could be causing your symptoms. The sooner you and your ENT doctor are able to get to the root of your flare-ups the easier it will be to treat your allergies.
While an otolaryngologist may choose to prescribe medication to help you better manage your symptoms, there are also a variety of lifestyle modifications you can incorporate into your daily routine to reduce flare-ups.
For starters, it’s important to reduce how often you come in contact with the offending allergen. This may require you to close your windows during the day, vacuum the carpets and furniture a few times a week, bathe your trusty pet regularly, use an air purifier with a HEPA filter in your bedroom, or place a protective covering over your mattress.
Even though some people may find relief from commercial allergy products, those dealing with persistent or moderate-to-severe allergies may require a more specific and stronger medication. There are a variety of prescription nasal sprays, eye drops, and other antihistamines that can reduce congestion, eye redness and itching, and other allergy complaints. Of course, if these lifestyle changes and medications aren’t enough to get your symptoms under control then your allergy specialist may discuss the pros and cons of getting allergy shots.
Don’t let allergies get the better of you. There are ways to get your allergies under control so they don’t control you. Don’t fight your allergy alone; turn to an ENT specialist for help.
Your voice is one of the traits that make you “uniquely you.” Any significant change in the quality or sound of your voice could be an indication of a problem, like vocal cord lesions. This is a throat-related condition that can be treated by a doctor at Midwest Ear, Nose, and Throat in Chicago, IL.
Your Vocal Cords
The vocal cords are two bands of tissue inside of the larynx, which is located behind the tongue. This tissue is key to forming the sounds that you make when you talk, yell, sing, or hum. Air is pushed out through the lungs, causing the cords to contract and vibrate. As the cords vibrate, sounds are created. The way these cords move, expand, and contract effect the pitch and volume of the voice.
Vocal Cord Lesions
A vocal cord lesion is a benign overgrowth of tissue—a polyp, cyst, or nodule. It is often caused by too much stress on the cords. For example, if you scream for long periods of time at a ball game, or sing night after night, this strain can cause extra tissue to develop on the vocal cords. Smoking can also cause lesions, which is why smokers sometimes have raspy voices. If you’re a singer, speaker, or someone who has to talk often in the course of work, vocal cord lesions can significantly affect the projection and quality of your voice. One of the first symptoms is hoarseness and difficulty getting words out.
Vocal Cord Surgery and Treatment
Vocal cord lesions can be difficult to treat without exploring voice surgery. The first step is usually to rest the voice to see if the problem heals itself or to try steam therapy. Voice surgery is usually recommended when the lesions are big or grow often. Your ENT in Chicago will use laser therapy and anesthesia to remove the growths. The recovery process is faster and easier than traditional surgical methods.
Improve Your Voice
If your ENT in Chicago, IL, discovers that you have vocal cord lesions, consider all treatment options, including voice surgery. Call (312) 988-7777 today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Gordon Siegel or Dr. Hartman at Midwest Ear, Nose, and Throat.
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