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.
Cancer is a word that strikes fear in many people's hearts and for good reason. However, Dr. Gordon Siegel of Midwest ENT in Chicago wants you to know that cancer—particularly head and neck cancers—are preventable, detectable and treatable. Read these FAQs to learn more about keeping yourself cancer-free.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Head and Neck Cancer
1. How prevalent are head and neck cancers? Cancers of the squamous cells in the mouth, nose, and throat (voice box and esophagus) account for about four percent of all cancer diagnoses in the United States each year. That's around 65,000 people, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology or ASCO.
2. Are these cancers treatable? Yes, both are highly treatable, but as with any other cancer, early detection is the key to successful treatment.
3. How can I be screened for head and neck cancers? An annual physical should entail your physician examining your throat and ears. Also, they will feel your neck for any swellings or lumps, reviewing any symptoms you may have. Bi-annual dental examinations also screen for oral cancers.
4. What are the symptoms of head and neck cancer? There are many symptoms. However, some individuals show no signs at all; that's why routine screenings with your primary care physician and dentist are so vital. Symptoms may include:
- A lump, swelling, sore or patch that won’t heal.
- Sore throat.
- Hoarse voice.
- Jaw pain.
- Weight loss.
- Constant bad breath.
5. What are the treatment options? They are as varied as the cancers themselves. Much depends on location, overall health, and cancer staging, or how developed the lesion is and if it’s spread to other areas of the body. Surgical excision is a common treatment as is laser therapy, radiation, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy. Dr. Siegel fully coordinates care plans from initial diagnosis to treatment to follow-up care.
6. Can these cancers be prevented? The American Cancer Society states that a large percentage of these cancers are preventable. Avoid all forms of tobacco. Limit your sun exposure and alcohol intake. Additionally, research shows that exposure to HPV, the Human Papillomavirus, puts people at high risk for head and neck cancers.
To learn more, visit Midwest Ear, Nose, and Throat of Chicago, IL
If you have more questions about head and neck cancers, please contact Midwest Ear, Nose, and Throat for a consultation. You'll find compassionate, skilled care in our state-of-the-art facility. Call today for an appointment with Dr. Gordon Siegel: (312) 988-7777. Midwest ENT in Chicago is a proud member of Northwestern Private Practice, a group of independent physicians that provide top medical care to patients living in Chicagoland. Our goal is to provide patients with a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible, often within a week.
While swimmer’s ear may sound akin to having a lucky rabbit’s foot, the opposite is actually true. This painful condition, also known as acute otitis externa, causes infection and inflammation of the outer ear. As you may be able to guess from the name alone, this ear infection is often the result of too much water getting into the ears, whether you are an avid swimmer or you just drenched yourself in a hot shower for too long. Of course, there are other reasons why you may be prone to these infections.
Sure, this infection tends to be more common in children and teens, but if you happen to clean your ears regularly with cotton swabs, if you end up damaging or cutting the skin of the ear canal or if you’ve been diagnosed with eczema of the ear canal, then you too could be at risk for developing this type of ear infection.
Once the water is trapped inside the ear canal, it leaves the ear susceptible to bacteria and infection. If you have swimmer’s ear, you most likely know it because the inflammation causes pain. Since it is indeed an infection, it’s important that you turn to your otolaryngologist for proper medical attention. Not only will the treatment help eliminate your pain and discomfort but it will also stop the infection from spreading.
Besides pain, you may also notice that your ear feels as if there's fluid in it, which may also be drained. Since swimmer’s ear is an infection, you may also notice that the lymph nodes around the neck and ears are swollen. Some patients even report minor hearing loss. Of course, a young child can’t often describe their symptoms, but you may notice your little one tugging at their ear, unable to sleep, or more irritable and cranky. If you notice these symptoms then it’s time to take your child to the ENT doctor.
What can happen if swimmer’s ear isn’t treated properly? You may experience chronic or recurring infections. You may find that even if the condition clears up that your hearing loss has not fully returned. There may even be damage to the bones and cranial nerves.
When you come in to see your ENT specialist, they will most likely prescribe eardrops to treat the infection. They may also clean out the infected ear canal. These eardrops will serve to kill the bacteria and reduce pain and inflammation. Make sure to follow the instructions for your medication and continue to use it even once your symptoms have gone away, or according to what your physician has prescribed. This will ensure that all the bacteria are destroyed and that you won’t develop another infection.
Protect the health of your ears. If you think you may have swimmer’s ear, or if you are experiencing any kind of ear pain, it’s a good idea to play it safe and visit an ear, nose and throat specialist right away for care.
You may have allergies that show up in the spring when plants are flowering and grass is growing. You’ve grown used to the itchy, allergies watery eyes and sneezing. But now, you have allergies in winter too, when you’re indoors because of bad weather. Your ENT specialists want you to know that allergies aren’t just seasonal. They can affect you all year long.
Hay fever, also called allergic rhinitis, is common during the spring and summer months and is caused by an allergic response to tree or grass pollen and various other flowering plants. But allergies aren’t confined to just spring and summer. When you are indoors during the fall and winter, you can experience allergies to pet dander, dust mites, mold and many other indoor irritants. You can also be allergic to certain foods and not even realize it.
Your first step in dealing with allergies is to learn what you are allergic to. Your ENT doctors can test you for food allergies and a variety of both indoor and outdoor allergens. Once you’ve found out what you are allergic to, your doctors may prescribe:
Allergy shots—typically given once a week with either a single injection or multiple injections depending on how many things you are allergic to.
Sublingual drop therapy—a convenient option for people on the go, or those who don’t want injections; your doctors mix up a custom treatment solution which you can take at home and use daily, as a drop under your tongue.
There are also some remedies you can try at home to get relief from allergy symptoms, such as:
- Irrigating your nasal passages with a saline solution
- Over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants
- Using allergy-proof pillowcases and linens
- Using allergy or HEPA filters in your house, especially in the bedroom
- Vacuuming your carpets regularly
- Keeping your pets off of furniture and out of your bedroom
If you have irritating allergies, you already know they can affect your life. They can keep you from doing the things you like, and worst of all, they may not be just seasonal. But now there’s help just a phone call away from your ENT specialists. Call today and get some relief from your allergies!
Are you dealing with the effects of vocal polyps?
Most people don’t notice issues with their vocal cords until the problem has become rather serious. People who use their voice a lot, as well as those who need to shout or work within noisy environments may be prone to vocal issues. It’s important to know whether you might be dealing with a vocal cord disorder and when you should turn to our Chicago otolaryngologist Dr. Gordon Siegel at Midwest ENT for treatment.
Common Vocal Cord Disorders
The most common vocal problems include,
- Nodules: Nodules are hard, callus-like growths that develop on the vocal cords (often the result of irritation and vocal abuse). Teachers, singers and people who have to use their voice on a regular basis for work may be prone to developing vocal cord nodules.
- Polyps: These soft growths are also the result of vocal abuse or exposure to certain irritants such as cigarette smoke. Long-term smokers are at an increased risk of developing polyps.
- Laryngitis: This condition causes inflammation or an infection of the vocal cords. If the inflammation is severe enough you may temporarily lose your voice. Causes of laryngitis include vocal abuse, viral infections, heartburn or allergies.
- Ulcer: Vocal cord ulcers aren’t as common as the other conditions listed above; however, they can cause serious vocal cord erosion. Ulcers are more common in public speakers as well as those who have gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD).
Symptoms of Vocal Cord Disorders
As you might imagine, those dealing with vocal cord disorders often experience symptoms that impact the sound, quality and tone of their voice. One of the most common symptoms of a vocal cord disorder is hoarseness, which is present in most of the conditions above. If you are dealing with laryngitis caused by an infection then you may also experience a fever, fatigue or sore throat.
Those with ulcers, polyps and nodules may also notice that they have a low-pitched voice that tires easily. Ulcers may also cause throat pain. Our Chicago ENT doctor should evaluate your vocal cords if you’ve been dealing with,
- Hoarseness for more than two weeks
- You have trouble swallowing
- You feel like you have a lump in your throat
- You are experiencing unexpected throat pain
- You have lost your voice for more than a few days
Considering Vocal Cord Surgery
Surgery is usually not necessary unless the patient has not experienced any relief from their symptoms through nonsurgical treatment options. If you are still dealing with hoarseness and inflammation then our otolaryngologist may recommend surgery to remove the benign growth or scar tissue. There are several techniques that can improve these common vocal cord disorders.
About Midwest ENT
Midwest ENT in Chicago is a proud member of Northwestern Private Practice, a group of independent physicians that provide top medical care to patients living in Chicagoland. Our goal is to provide patients with a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible, often within a week.
If you want to discuss whether voice surgery is the most effective way to treat your vocal cysts, polyps or other issues then call our office today at (312) 988-777 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Siegel.
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