Common Ear Nose Thoat Problems
We continually look for ways to help educate our patients about ear, nose and throat issues. These are issues ranging from allergies to even severe problems that are diagnosable and treated by a specialist at Carlson Ear Nose and Throat Associates.
Click on one of the links below to explore the different areas that many people suffer from:
Common Allergy Problems
Allergic rhinitis occurs when the nose and usually also the ears, eyes, sinuses, and throat come into contact with allergy-causing substances. The allergy-causing substances are called allergens. The most common allergens are pollens, molds, dust, and animal dander.
Common symptoms include itchy or runny nose, sneezing, nasal and head congestion, fatigue and lethargy, itchy throat, postnasal drainage, itchy and watery eyes.
The first step in treating allergies is to try to avoid contact with the things you are allergic to. The second step is treatment with medicine. Your physician may suggest that you first try decongestants or other medications for mild symptoms.
IntaDermal Immuno-Therapy for Allergies
If your symptoms are severe in spite of medicines, your physician may suggest allergy shots. A mixture is prepared that contains the allergens identified in your allergy tests.
Allergy testing and allergy shots are performed in the office. Contact us for more information on allergy testing and treatment.
Ear Related Problems
Outer Ear Infections
Outer ear infections can cause itching in the ear canal, pain and swelling of the ear canal, discharge from the ear, and crusting around the ear canal. Your physician will carefully clean and dry your ear. If your ear is very swollen, the physician may insert a wick soaked with an antibiotic into the ear to get the medicine into the infected area. You may need to put drops in your ear several times a day to keep the wick moist. Oral antibiotics may also be indicated if you have a severe infection, or your physician may suggest a cream or ointment medicine for some types of infection.
Middle Ear Infections
A middle ear infection is an infection of the air-filled space in the ear behind the eardrum. Ear infections usually begin with a viral infection of the nose and throat. Ear infections may also occur when you have allergies. Symptoms of a middle ear infection include earache, hearing loss, feeling of blockage in the ear, fever, and dizziness. The physician will check for fluid behind the eardrum, and a hearing test may also be recommended if you are experiencing hearing loss. Antibiotic medicine is a common treatment for ear infections. However, recent studies have shown that the symptoms of ear infections often go away in a couple of days without antibiotics. Your provider may recommend a decongestant (tablets or a nasal spray) to help clear the eustachian tube.
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo
Benign Proxysmal Positional Vertigo is one of the most common causes of vertigo in adults. It presents with the illusion of movement, which occurs within a few seconds of a change in head positioning. Most commonly a short sensation of spinning is experienced after lying down in bed, arising in the morning, or rolling over in bed at night, but may also occur when one looks up to a high shelf, or down under furniture. Typically, the symptoms last seconds to minutes or so before resolving. BPPV is due to microscopic crystals, or otoconia, floating around in one of the compartments of the inner ear. The movement of these particles stimulate the sensory endings of the vestibular (balance) nerve, producing vertigo.
The good news is that BPPV responds well to physical therapy maneuvers. Medications rarely help. A trained physician or vestibular therapist can perform therapy which can rapidly eliminate the symptoms of dizziness. These maneuvers are designed to relocate the crystals to a part of the inner ear where they will not produce any symptoms. Treatments for BPPV can usually be performed in one or two sessions with very high success rates. This office frequently diagnosis and properly treats this disorder.
Meniere’s Disease is a problem in the inner ear. It can cause severe dizziness (vertigo) and hearing loss. It usually affects just one ear, but it can happen in both ears. There can be a significant hearing loss, but complete deafness is rare. The symptoms can be mild or severe. Although the dizziness can be very disabling, it can usually be controlled.
An acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor that can cause impaired hearing, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), balance problems, and possible facial numbness. Diagnosis for an acoustic neuroma may include a hearing evaluation, balance testing, and an MRI scan.
Excessive amounts of earwax, or cerumen, can block the ear canal and cause temporary hearing impairment. Earwax should be removed only by a professional. Q-tips, ear candeling, or other methods of home earwax removal are not recommended. Please consult your physician if you suspect earwax impaction.
Labyrinthitis & Vestibular Neuritis
Labyrinthitis is an inflammation of the inner ear. Vestibular neuritis is an inflammation of the nerves connecting the inner ear to the brain. In vestibular neuritis, a virus similar to the herpes virus causes an infection. This infection causes swelling and inflammation of the vestibular nerves or the labyrinth. Sometimes bacteria from a middle ear infection cause labyrinthitis. Symptoms of vestibular neuritis and labyrinthitis include dizziness or vertigo, trouble maintaining balance, and nausea. Diagnosis may include a hearing evaluation, balance testing, an MRI scan, and possible blood testing.
Otosclerosis is the abnormal growth of bone in the middle ear which can cause conductive hearing loss, or the prevention of the normal transmission of sound. It is most common for otosclerosis to affect one of the bones in the middle ear called the stapes. Other symptoms of otoscerlosis may include ringing in the ears and dizziness. Otosclerosis can be diagnosed by your ENT physician, and will include a hearing evaluation by an audiologist. Treatment may consist of a surgery called a stapedectomy, where a prosthetic device replaces the abnormal bone growth.
Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) is not normal, and can be a symptom of other disorders. Some of the causes of tinnitus are hearing loss, noise exposure, ear infections, sinus infections, Meniere’s disease, ear or head injury, otosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, certain medications, anxiety or stress, heavy smoking, and thyroid disorders. Tinnitus can be described as ringing, buzzing, crickets, escaping air, and many other types of sound. Your physician will ask about your symptoms and may order a hearing test, scans, or blood work to determine the possible cause. Treatment options may include a hearing aid or masking device, Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT), and perhaps certain medication.
Noise Induced Hearing Loss
Noise induced hearing loss is one of the most common types of hearing loss. Noise can be damaging to the sensitive cells of the inner ear. It can occur with a one-time exposure to a loud sound or over time to continuous exposure. Noise induced hearing loss can affect everyone, from infants to the elderly. To prevent noise induced hearing loss, you should be aware of the types of noise that are too loud. Noise greater than 85 dB may potentially cause damage to your ears. Some examples of these types of noise are gas lawn mowers, hair dryers, rock concerts, hand drills, ambulance sirens, and fireworks. Personal music players can also be made loud enough to potentially cause damage to your hearing.
Nose Related Problems
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep problem. Sleep apnea causes you stop breathing for more than 10 seconds at a time many times while you sleep. Another term for this problem is obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea affects between 2 and 10% of people. It is more common in men than in women. Possible causes of sleep apnea include being overweight, tobacco smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, lung disease, and an abnormal sleep pattern. Symptoms include loud snoring interrupted with pauses in breathing followed by loud gasps, not feeling rested when you wake in the morning, morning headaches, sleepiness during the day, trouble concentrating, anxiety, irritability, and sleepiness while driving. Sleep apnea can be diagnosed by a physician after a thorough examination, and possibly a sleep study.
A nosebleed occurs when the membranes lining the inner nose are disturbed or irritated enough to cause abnormal bleeding. The medical term for nosebleed is epistaxis. The most common causes of nosebleeds are a breakdown in the lining of the nose, injury to the nose or face, high altitude, drug abuse involving the nose, high blood pressure, medicine that prevents blood clotting, and medical conditions that prevent your blood from clotting.
Septoplasty is nasal septum reconstruction that straightens the nasal septum, or central wall that divides the two nasal passages into the nose. Reasons for this procedure include a deviated septum from an injury that makes it difficult to breathe, recurring sinus infections, a blood clot as a result of an injury that makes it difficult to breathe, or if you are experiencing a lot of nosebleeds. Septoplasty is a surgical procedure, and your physician will discuss with you the reasons you would need the surgery and the results you can expect.
Rhinoplastyis an operation that can be used to improve the appearance, size, or angle of your nose. It can also be used to correct deformities and blockages caused by injury, disease, or birth defects. Sometimes it may be done to make it easier for you to breathe. Your physician will discuss with you the reasons you would need the surgery and the results you can expect.
Sinusitis is swollen, infected linings of the sinuses. The sinuses are hollow spaces in the bones of your face and skull that connect with the nose through small openings. Symptoms may include feeling fullness or pressure in your head, a painful headache present when you wake up or bend your head down, tenderness around the eyes, aching in the upper jaw and teeth, runny or stuffy nose, cough, fluid draining down the back of the throat (postnasal drainage), and sore throat in the morning or evening. Sinusitis is diagnosed and treated by a physician. Treatment options may include medications.
Throat Related Issues
Vocal Cord Lesions
Vocal polyps and nodulesare growths that may occur in several situations: straining the voice, hypothyroidism, radiation therapy in the neck, or long-lasting sinusitis with drainage, cough, and frequent throat clearing. The first symptom of polyps and nodules is usually hoarseness, which occurs when the growth or growths interfere with the flow of air past the vocal cords. Treatment may include a referral to a speech therapist to advise you how to better use your voice. Sometimes, surgical removal may be indicated.
Leukoplakia refers to thick, white patches of abnormal tissue, often caused by chemical irritation from tobacco smoke or alcohol. Leukoplakia commonly causes no symptoms. Over time it can silently develop into cancer of the voice box, especially if you both smoke and drink alcohol. If you have leukoplakia, you will be checked for cancer, and your physician will advise you to stop smoking.
Thyroidectomy is a surgical procedure removing all or part of the thyroid gland. A thyroidectomy may be done when you have a nodule (lump) in your thyroid gland that could be cancerous. A thyroidectomy may also be done when the thyroid gland is overactive (hyperthyroidism) and medicine has failed to control the problem. Antithyroid medicine and radioactive iodine are usually effective, but there are cases where surgery is the preferred treatment or the only effective treatment. Ask your surgeon or health care provider about these situations. Details about the procedure will be thoroughly described by your physician.
Heartburn & Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Heartburn refers to the symptoms you feel when acids in your stomach flow backward into the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that carries food from your throat to your stomach. Heartburn that happens often is called gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. The main symptom of heartburn is a burning pain in the lower chest, usually close to the bottom of the breastbone. Other symptoms you may have are acid or sour taste in your mouth, and belching and the sensation of bloating or fullness of the stomach. Usually heartburn can be diagnosed using your medical history. Additional testing may be used to check for ulcers or other problems that may be causing your symptoms, barium swallow x-ray, complete upper GI barium study, and endoscopy. Reducing symptoms of heartburn can be done by taking over-the-counter antacids, avoiding substances that make the symptoms worse, raising your head in bed or using more than one pillow. If the simple measures described above do not relieve the symptoms, your health care provider may prescribe medicine. The prescription medicines help reduce stomach acid and help stomach emptying. Very few people who are not helped with medicines may need surgery.
Tonsillectomy & Adenoidectomy
Tonsillectomy & Adenoidectomy is a surgery that is done to remove the tonsils and adenoids. The tonsils and adenoids help the body fight respiratory infections, such as colds. However, they can be removed without changing the body’s ability to fight infection. Reasons for removing the tonsils and adenoids may include trouble breathing at night because of enlarges tonsils, frequent infections of the tonsils, an abscess around one or both tonsils, and trouble swallowing because of enlarged tonsils.