Posts for category: ENT
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.
From outdoor allergies to asthma, there are many reasons why you or your child may be having trouble with your breathing. Breathing problems can be distressing and it’s important to understand when symptoms warrant seeing an otolaryngologist for a proper evaluation.
Common Causes of Breathing Problems
You may have trouble breathing if you are dealing with:
- Common cold
- Acute or chronic sinusitis
- Deviated septum
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Other upper respiratory infections (e.g. pneumonia)
While some conditions like the common cold will only cause mild and temporary symptoms, if you notice that your symptoms are serious, don’t respond to at-home care or are getting worse then it’s time to seek medical attention. After all, there are certain conditions such as sinusitis that can become chronic if not properly treated. An ENT doctor will know exactly what medications and treatments to offer to reduce sinus inflammation and to make breathing easier.
Chronic breathing problems, particularly those caused by allergies and asthma, may also be associated with:
- Chest tightness or congestion
- Nasal congestion
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Coughing that gets worse at night
- Shallow breathing
Asthma symptoms are usually detected early in childhood; however, it is still possible for adults to be diagnosed later in life (known as adult-onset asthma). If you or your child are experiencing difficulty breathing and tightness in the chest made worse by cold air, stress, or exercise it’s important that you see an ENT doctor right away. While asthma cannot be cured it can be properly managed with long-term medication. Leaving asthma untreated could be harmful to your health.
Testing and Diagnosis
When you come into the office an otolaryngologist will have you fill out detailed information about your family and personal medical history. Your doctor will also perform a physical exam. Pulmonary function tests are often used to test lung function in those suspected of having asthma. Of course, there are other breathing tests such as spirometry. Your doctor will also ask you questions about the symptoms you’ve been experiencing in order to rule out certain conditions or illnesses.
The treatment plan you receive will depend on the issue you are dealing with. For example, acute sinusitis can often be managed with over-the-counter nasal decongestants and antihistamines while chronic sinusitis may require more aggressive treatment such as prescription steroid sprays, oral corticosteroids, and endoscopic nasal surgery to remove the blockage or to repair the deviated septum. Your otolaryngologist can help you get your breathing problems under control.
- 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.
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.
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.