Does your throat hurt? Sore throats aren't just caused by viruses. Chicago, IL, ear, nose and throat specialist Dr. Gordon Siegel of Midwest Ear Nose and Throat discusses a few things that can cause throat pain.
Allergies may irritate your throat, in addition to causing a runny nose and itchy eyes. Your sore throat may become worse if you also experience post-nasal drip.
Have you recently spent time around smoke or strong chemicals? These substances can irritate the lining of your throat.
Sleeping with your mouth open
Sleeping with your mouth open tends to dry your throat, which can cause pain. A dry or sore throat upon awakening can be a sign of sleep apnea, a condition that occurs due to multiple, short breathing pauses during the night.It's important to visit our Chicago office if you have throat pain in the morning, snore, constantly feel tired, or gasp for air or choke during the night.
Viral and bacterial infections
Colds, the flu and other viruses, such as chickenpox, may cause sore throats. Throat pain may also occur if you develop strep throat, an illness caused by a bacterial virus. Although sore throats caused by viruses should gradually get better on their own, you'll need antibiotics if you have a strep throat.
Furnaces tend to dry the air, which can cause throat irritation.
Throat injuries are sometimes responsible for throat pain. Injuries can happen due to a blow to your neck or may happen if you spent a long time yelling or singing.
Gastroesophageal reflux may be responsible for sore throats and cough. It may go undetected for long periods of time. This can usually be diagnosed treated with a few simple steps.
More serious causes
Although a sore throat is usually a minor symptom that soon goes away, sometimes a sore throat can be a sign of a serious condition or disease. Throat pain can occur if you have a disorder of the tonsils or a tumor in your throat or larynx.
Sore throats that last more than a week or are particularly severe should be evaluated by an ENT. Call Chicago, IL, ear, nose and throat specialist Dr. Gordon Siegel of Midwest Ear Nose and Throat at (312) 988-7777 to schedule your appointment.
Dander is a common allergen made up of tiny flakes and particles of skin from common household pets like cats, dogs, birds and rodents. Dander is harmless to adults and children who do not suffer from allergies, however people who sneeze and become congested around certain animals might be allergic. Pet allergies can range from mild to severe, with treatment options ranging from over the counter antihistamines, to prescription medication from an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor.
What You Need to Know About Dander and Pet Allergies
In addition to their skin, fur and feathers, animals like cats and dogs can also trigger allergic reactions in humans through proteins found in their saliva, urine and dried feces. So even the owner of a short haired or hairless cat may still experience an allergic reaction while cleaning out the cat litter or removing soiled newspaper from a dog's crate. Although many domestic animal breeds are marketed as non-allergenic alternatives, ENT specialists advise highly allergic adults or parents of children with allergies to exercise caution, given that allergens are not exclusive to fur and can still be found in the pet's saliva, regardless of their coat.
A few facts about dander and pet allergens according to the American Lung Association:
- Americans are more than twice as likely to report allergies to cats than to dogs
- Female cats produce more of the protein (Fel d I) associated with cat allergies in humans
- Pet allergens tend to remain airborne longer than dust mites and other sources, and can remain in the home for weeks and months at a time, even if the animal is removed
- Pet allergens travel easily through dust and on clothes, and can also be found in buildings and homes without pets
- Pet allergens can trigger asthma in people with the condition
Symptoms of pet allergies:
- Congestion and runny nose
- Watery, itchy eyes
- Rashes and skin irritation like eczema
- Difficulty breathing
Cancers that are categorized as head and neck encompass the areas from the nasal passage and sinuses in the head, down to the opening of the esophagus at the base of the throat. Also known as squamous cell carcinomas, this type of cancer affects the mucous membranes lining the nose, mouth, and throat. Treatment for this form of cancer is managed by an otolaryngologist, or ear, nose and throat doctor (ENT).
Types of Head and Neck Cancers
- Oral Cavity - lips, tongue, gums, cheek lining, floor of the mouth, and the hard palette (roof) of the mouth
- Pharynx (throat) - nasopharynx (behind the nose), oropharynx (area made up of the soft palette, back third of the tongue, and the tonsils), hypopharynx (bottom or the pharynx, which connects to the esophagus)
- Larynx - (voice box, vocal cords)
- Sinuses and nasal cavity
- Salivary glands
A: Many of the symptoms for oral and throat cancers are similar to benign conditions. ENT doctors advise patients to pay attention to unexplained symptoms that persist beyond a few weeks, do not respond to treatment or clear up and then return frequently. The most common set of symptoms include:
- Sores in the mouth, gums or tongue that do not heal
- Chronic sore throat
- Hoarseness or changes in the voice
- Swelling and bleeding from the throat or nose
- Difficulty breathing, speaking or swallowing
- Chronic headaches or earaches
- Hearing impairment
- Chronic sinus infections that do not clear up with antibiotics
- Numbness and/or facial paralysis
A: While this type of cancer can technically affect anyone, it is more common in men over the age of 50.
Q: Are head and neck cancers preventable?
A: The most common cause of oral cancers is tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption. Abstaining from tobacco use (cigarettes and nicotine products) and avoiding or drinking alcohol in moderation is highly recommended. Good oral hygiene with daily flossing and brushing and regular dental check-ups, as well as a healthy diet can also lower the risk. Head and neck cancers can be treated successfully when caught early. Reporting suspicious symptoms to an ENT specialist as soon as possible is important for early detection.
Q: What are the treatment options for head and neck cancers?
A: Treatment varies from patient to patient depending on the type of cancer, location, stage at time of diagnosis and the patient's overall health. Most cancers are typically treated with a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and/or targeted drug therapy.
Also known as canker sores and ulcers, mouth sores usually result from bite injuries or allergic reactions. They can also be a symptom of an underlying health condition. Unlike cold sores, which are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HS1 and HS2) and develop on the lips and the skin around the mouth, non-Herpes related mouth sores can form on the gums, tongue, lips, the lining of the cheeks and throat. Canker sores are not contagious, and usually clear up on their own. They tend to be painful and can be treated with topical over the counter analgesics, mouthwashes and rinses. If mouth sores do not resolve on their own and last longer than three weeks, it may be necessary to seek treatment from an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor.
Common Causes of Mouth Ulcers and Canker Sores
Accidental biting is the most common cause, along with friction from toothbrushing, orthodontics or dentures. Diet can also play a role, in the form of food allergies to anything from coffee, chocolate and highly acidic foods and citrus fruits. Deficiencies of essential vitamins and minerals like folic acid, B12, iron, folate and zinc can also cause mouth ulcers. Sodium lauryl sulfate in toothpaste and oral bacteria like Helicobacter pylori (which is also responsible for stomach ulcers) can cause lesions in the mouth as well.
Lifestyle factors like smoking and elevated stress levels are another cause. Ulcers that persist for more than a few weeks, do not respond to self-care and over the counter treatments and are accompanied by additional symptoms like fever, excessive pain, swelling and difficulty eating and drinking, can be a sign of an underlying medical condition.
Schedule an appointment with an ENT (ear, nose and throat doctor) if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- swollen lymph nodes
- difficulty swallowing or speaking
Is an Underlying Medical Condition Causing My Mouth Sores?
Persistent and chronic mouth sores can sometimes be a symptom of immune deficiencies or inflammatory conditions like lupus, Celiac, Behcet's and Chron's Disease. Contact an ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT) for more information on treatment options and symptom relief.
Do you hear as well as you once did? Our ENT specialist, Dr. Gordon Siegel of Midwest ENT in Chicago, IL, shares a few common signs that may indicate that your hearing has deteriorated.
The entire world has started mumbling
Some people do tend to mumble when they speak, which can make it challenging to hold conversations with them. If it suddenly seems as if everyone has begun to mumble, the problem may actually be caused by hearing loss. Hearing loss effectively turns down the volume on your life, making it much more difficult to follow conversations or identify words, particularly those that sound similar.
You've become an excellent guesser
If you're affected by hearing loss, you may miss words or phrases when you talk to other people. Often, it's possible to fill in those gaps based on the subject of the conversation. When guessing becomes a regular part of your life, it's time to visit our Chicago office for a hearing evaluation.
You've had difficulty getting along with other people
Have you noticed that you're involved in many more disagreements than ever before? If you don't hear questions or comments or miss crucial words in a conversation, your friends or family members may think that you're becoming difficult or uncaring. Relationship problems at home are bad enough, but unfortunately, hearing loss can also affect your relationships at work. Although your family may be willing to overlook issues caused by your poor hearing, your boss may not be quite so forgiving.
It's difficult to hear if there are competing noises
When you have hearing loss, holding a conversation at sporting events or following the dialogue in a movie can be particularly challenging. The problem occurs when background noise makes it hard to hear dialogue or the person next to you.
You prefer emailing and texting to talking on the phone
If you've given up on phone conversations and now resort to emails and texts instead, hearing loss may be to blame. You may be unknowingly relying on visual cues when you hold in-person conversations. Without those cues, it might be very difficult to hear telephone conversations.
Hearing aids may be the solution to your problem
Hearing aids can help improve hearing caused by damage to the hair cells in your inner ear. Hair cell damage can occur as a result of exposure to loud noises or may be caused by aging or certain diseases. Hearing aids not only amplify sounds but also reduce background noise.
Do you have any of these symptoms? Call Dr. Siegel of Midwest ENT in Chicago, IL, at (312) 988-7777 to schedule an appointment and hearing evaluation.
This website includes materials that are protected by copyright, or other proprietary rights. Transmission or reproduction of protected items beyond that allowed by fair use, as defined in the copyright laws, requires the written permission of the copyright owners.