Learn more about the causes and ways to treat head and neck cancer.
Head and neck cancers aren’t as often discussed as other forms of cancer; however, it’s just as important that you understand the symptoms and warning signs that you might have head or neck cancer. As with any cancer, it’s important that you see a medical professional as soon as possible so the cancer can be caught early. From the office of our Chicago otolaryngologist Dr. Gordon Siegel at Midwest Ear, Nose, and Throat, find out more about head and neck cancer.
What are the different kinds of head and neck cancers?
Head and neck cancers can affect,
- The oral cavity (this includes everything from the gums to the lips and tongue)
- Pharynx (throat)
- Larynx (voice box)
- Sinus and nasal cavity
- Salivary glands
What causes head and neck cancers?
As you might imagine, tobacco use and alcohol consumption are the two most common risk factors for head and neck cancers, particularly cancers that affect the oral cavity, larynx and pharynx.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a certain strain of human papillomavirus (HPV) that has the potential to cause cancer this is something you’ll want to discuss with your Chicago ENT doctor to make sure that you are getting the proper head and neck cancers screening and routine checkups to detect symptoms early on.
What are the symptoms of head and neck cancers?
Symptoms will differ depending on the location of cancer. Symptoms may include,
- Painful swallowing
- Difficulty breathing
- Chronic hoarseness
- Persistent headaches
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Ear pain
- Sinus blockage
- Eye problems or vision changes
- Swelling around the jaw
- Facial swelling
- Frequent nosebleeds
- Issues with the way dentures fit
Any of these symptoms warrant a trip to our office for an evaluation, particularly if you have one or more risk factors.
How are head and neck cancers treated?
Your treatment will be based on several factors including the stage of your cancer, the location of the cancer, the age of the patient and the patient’s overall health. From there, we will work to determine which treatment option is right for you. Common treatment options include:
- Radiation therapy
- Targeted therapy
- A combination of different therapies
Are you experiencing any of the signs or symptoms above? Do you have any questions or concerns about changes to your ear, nose or throat health? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Dr. Siegel at Midwest Ear, Nose, and Throat is proud to serve the Chicago area. Call us today at (312) 988-7777 to schedule an appointment with us.
- 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.
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.
What is a Tonsillectomy?
Need a tonsillectomy? Tonsillectomies have been practiced for over 2,000 years. A tonsillectomy is a surgical operation to remove the palatine tonsils. Tonsils are two glands located at the rear of the throat. Ear, Nose, and Throat Doctors, also known as an otolaryngologists, are highly experienced in tonsillectomies. Here's everything you need to know about tonsillectomies.
Why it's Done
A tonsillectomy is used to treat chronic or recurring tonsilitis, complications of enlarged tonsils, and bleeding of the tonsils. A tonsillectomy is also a treatment for sleep-disordered breathing and other rare diseases of the tonsils. The need for tonsillectomies are more common in kids than adults. However, people of any age can experience trouble with their tonsils and require a tonsillectomy.
Tonsillectomy is an operation in which both tonsils are removed from a recess in the side of the pharynx called the tonsillar fossa. Once the patient is asleep, the surgery begins. An instrument is used to hold the patient's mouth open. The tonsils are then cut away with a laser, scalpel, or a heated instrument. Once the tonsils are removed and the bleeding is controlled, the surgery is over. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia, which is usually completed in 20 to 30 minutes.
A tonsillectomy is a common procedure. However, like with other operations, there are some risks with this procedure. These can include bleeding, infection, swelling, prolonged pain, or a reaction to anesthetics. Be sure to discuss your concerns with your physician before the procedure. Anyone who is contemplating surgery must weigh the potential risks against the benefits of the surgery.
Tonsillectomies are usually performed on an outpatient basis, which allows the patients to go home once they are awake from surgery. Recovery time for a tonsillectomy is usually at least 10 days to 2 weeks. You may experience some pain as as recover from a tonsillectomy. You might have a sore throat after the procedure. Pain relief medication can help you feel better during recovery. Many people are ready to go back to work or school within two weeks after a tonsillectomy.
An appointment for a checkup should be made two weeks after the procedure. The most important thing one can do after surgery to prevent dehydration is to drink plenty of fluids. Try to drink non-acidic drinks. Soft foods such as gelatin, puddings, and mashed foods are helpful to maintain adequate nutrition. Spicy, hot, and coarse foods should be avoided because they may scratch the throat and cause bleeding. Bed rest is important for several days after the procedure. Strenous activities should be avoided for two weeks after surgery.
You don't have to suffer anymore. If you think you may need a tonsillectomy, talk it over with a board certified ENT specialist. Find an ENT specialist in your area and schedule an appointment today. A tonsillectomy can ease your symptoms and help you get back to a happy and healthy life!
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.
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