Question of the Day

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing or shallow breathing during sleep. Typically, an individual with sleep apnea in unaware they have it. It is usually recognized when someone else witnesses the event while the other person is sleeping. 

If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to serious consequences such as irregular heart beats and artery blockage that could lead to sudden heart attacks. Symptoms of sleep apnea can be headaches, snoring, daytime sleepiness and fatigue. Consult with your ENT doctor if you or anyone you know is having these symptoms.

Dr. G - ENT

I was using a Q-tip to clean out my ear and I had an uncomfortacble pain. When I pulled the Q-tip out there was blood on the end of it. What should I do? 

When using a Q-tip you must be very careful. Gently move the Q-tip around the inside of your ear and be sure not to jam or force it too far back. Some of the worst ear traumas I have seen have come from self-induced Q-tip injuries.  Symptoms associated with Q-tip injuries would be vertigo/dizziness, severe hearing loss, ringing or tinnitus and excessive pain/bleeding. See your doctor for evaluation.

Dr. G - ENT

My salivary gland is swollen and hurts. Every time I eat it swells and spasms. Should I be concerned? 

You salivary gland may be swollen due to a stone. The stone may be blocking the exit of saliva which in turn causes the gland and surrounding tissues to swell. I would recommend drinking a lot of water. Also, try massaging your throat with a warm rag while sucking on hard sour candies. If this does not help resolve the problem, then contact your ENT doctor for antibiotics and steroids.

Dr. G - ENT

I have a sinus infection and my nose is really sore to the touch. Is there anything I can take to ease the pain?

Intense pain with a sinus infection should be evaluated by your medical specialist. A Nasal Vestibulitis may be present. This is usually caused by Staph bacteria and will need targeted antibiotic therapy by mouth. A topical ointment may be prescribed as well. Ibuprofen may also help for pain and inflammation. Please see your doctor. If untreated, these infections can get tricky.

Dr. G - ENT

I have been suffering from a stuffy nose, headaches, and a lot of post-nasal drainage. Are there any treatments for this?

These are all symptoms of sinusitis. Sinusitis affects tens of millions of people a year, making it one of the most common health problems. There are some options that can temporarily relieve these symptoms, such as nasal rinses, over-the-counter medications, and antibiotics. A relatively new procedure was developed to alleviate sinus pressure called Balloon Sinuplasty. Balloon Sinuplasty is a non-invasive procedure done under mild sedation that opens the nasal passageways to allow your sinuses to drain properly. This will help with any pressure you get in your cheeks or behind your eyes because it allows mucus to drain quickly. Contact your local ENT to learn more about this innovative procedure.

Dr. G - ENT

How do I get rid of phlegm in my throat? 

The fastest way to rid the mucus in your throat is to gargle with salt water. Also, make sure you are drinking enough liquids, sleep with a humidifier and consider Mucinex. Finally, use a nasal saline rinse like NeilMed. This works to rid the thick mucus in the throat. Hope this helps!

Dr. G - ENT 

Why do my ears fill up with fluid when I sleep? 

When we lay down to sleep, our nasal passages and ears change because of the blood distribution throughout our body. We get more blood flow to our head when we lie flat. The eustachian tube openings in the nose become congested, causing the middle ear changes. Try an over-the-counter nasal steroid spray. Use it every night. Hope this helps.

Dr. G - ENT

How serious is Eustachian Tube Dysfunction? 

The lining in your nose continues into the eustachian tube. Any condition affecting your nose will in turn cause ear symptoms. I would recommend Afrin nasal spray as directed for no more than 5 days. Also, a saline nasal rinse such as NeilMed works well. An over-the-counter decongestant can be used as directed thereafter for 7-10 days. If the symptoms persist, see your ENT doctor.  They may recommend steriods or even ear tube placement.

Dr. G - ENT

I noticed I am having hearing loss - what should I do?

I would recommend getting a hearing test first.  A hearing test is a helpful tool used to diagnose your hearing loss and allows us to create your individualized treatment plan. Contact your ENT doctor to schedule an appointment with an audiologist.

Dr. G - ENT

I don't like taking medications. Is there a natural way to treat my sinuses?

There a few different ways to help treat your sinuses naturally.  I would recommend starting with your water intake. If you take your body weight in pounds and divide it by 2, you will get the amount of water you should drink each day in fluid ounces.  For example, if you weigh 180lbs, you should consume 90 ounces of water a day. Another way to treat your sinuses is with a good nasal rinse.  A salt water nasal rinse has been proven to alleviate sinus pressure when used 1-2 times daily. Also, be sure to wash your hands regularly.  Viruses are one of the most common causes of sinus troubles.  I would also recommend getting an allergy test.  This allows your ENT doctor to create a plan to specifically treat YOUR allergies. Finally, get a good night's sleep. Give your body time to recover each day. This also helps with your overall health.

-Dr. G - ENT

Are the little bumps on the back of my throat normal?

The bumps you are noticing on the back of your throat are called lymph tissue.  They are tonsil-like islands of tissue that are normal.  They may become red and inflamed with infection or allergy post-nasal drainage.  It is always a good idea to confirm this with your ENT doctor.

Dr. G - ENT

Can chronic sinusitis cause fatigue, drowsiness, and a "foggy feeling"?

Chronic sinusitis can cause fatigue, drowsiness, and make you feel like you are in a "fog".  When our immune system is hit with a sinus infection, it becomes stressed and weakened.  I would recommend an over-the-counter saline nasal/sinus rinse 2-3 times a day and follow your evening rinse with a steroid nasal spray as directed.  This will help with inflammation.  If after 5 days you are still feeling ill, contact your doctor.

Dr. G - ENT

What causes chronic sinusitis?  

Chronic sinusitis can be caused by nasal polyps, infection, or by a deviated septum, which interferes with drainage and causes mucus buildup.  Breathing through the nose may be difficult. Also, swollen eyes, along with facial pain and discomfort, are common.  Chronic sinusitis is very common among adults, affecting over 29 million people worldwide.  If you or anyone you know is experiencing these symptoms, contact your ENT doctor and see what treatments are available.

Dr. G - ENT

When I sneeze or clear my throat, I am finding blood in my mucus. I have had a cold for the past two days.  Is this blood normal? 

Blood in the mucus is common when you have a virus or a bacterial infection.  When the mucous membranes are irritated, the blood flow increases to fight the infection.  Using a saline nasal rinse can help wash away the thickened secretions and help speed recovery and also add moisture.  If this persists after the infection clears, see your ENT doctor.

Dr. G - ENT

I have been picking at my tonsils and a tonsil stone came out.  Now there is a large black mark on my tonsil.  How do I prevent tonsil stones in the future?

 The black mark sounds like a deep pocket or crevice within the tonsil itself.  Make sure to gargle with water after every meal to try and get any leftover food out of that pocket.  If not treated properly, these stones can be problematic and may even lead to chronic infection.  See your local ENT for confirmation.

Dr. G - ENT

I am suffering from silent reflux and have throbbing pain in my throat.  What should I do?

Silent reflux, also known as laryngopharyngoreflux, is a condition where pepsin refluxes back into the throat and voice box region.  Pepsin breaks down protein so when it gets into the laryngeal region, these symptoms can occur.  This process happens over time and then becomes bothersome.  See your local ENT doctor so they can further exam the region and treat it. 

Dr. G - ENT

I am having a lot of pain on the left side of my head and my ear has really been bugging me. What could it be?

There are several different things that could be causing this pain and discomfort.  The most common causes of ear pain are ear infection, TMJ dysfunction, and dental problems.  I would recommend seeing your ENT doctor to discuss symptoms for a better evaluation.

Dr. G - ENT

 

Are steroid nose sprays SAFE

Steroid nasal sprays have been a safe and effective medication option for patients suffering from allergy troubles. There is even one spray that can be safely used in children as young as 2 years of age. These medications, while sprayed into the nasal passages, are delivered right to the areas where they are needed. This approach elinimates the need for the drug to be absorbed into the bloodstream to get to the target area. Patients who are allergic to steroids, who have glaucoma, are experiencing nosebleeds, or who are pregnant should check with their doctor before use.  The medication does need time until it reaches it's maximum effectiveness. 10-14 days, in my experience, are needed to reach maximum benefit. However, the medication will start to help relieve symptoms within days of its usage.  These medications include Nasacort, Flonase, Rhinocort and Nasonex. All except Nasonex can now be purchased over-the-counter (OTC) without a prescription. This summer, Nasonex is anticipated to be available OTC, as well. Nasal sprays can be used with an antihistamine daily for added benefit of allergy control. So YES, steroid nasal sprays are a safe medication to use and will help resolve your allergy symptoms. I hope this helps.

Dr. G - ENT

My Allergies are BAD! Which medicine can I buy over the counter that works the BEST?

Your question comes at a VERY appropriate time. Tree pollen has been airborne for over a month now and pollen has probably been entering your airways and over time has now caused your allergy symptoms to worsen. The key is to remember next year to begin taking medication BEFORE you notice your allergy symptoms. At present, an over-the-counter antihistamine like Zyrtec (Cetirizine), Allegra (Fexofenadine) or Claritin (Loratadine) can be used on a regular daily basis to reduce your allergy troubles. I would also recommend adding a topical nasal spray such as Nasacort, Flonase, or Rhinocort. These medications help tremendously; however, they need to be used daily for maximal effect. In my experience, these medications works best about 10-14 days after you start using the nose spray. Other medications can be added for additional relief like Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, Guaifenesin or Sudafed, depending on your particular symptoms. I would recommend beginning with the antihistamne and nose spray. Your pharmacist can help direct you to the appropriate medications and provide additional advice. Finally, if your symptoms persist despite these medications, see your ENT or family doctor. Other prescription medications, treatments and/or testing may be recommended. Good Luck.

Dr. G - ENT

I've had a hoarse voice for 3 weeks. I had a cold then and now I'm all better. My voice is not getting any better. Why?

The most likely cause of your persistent voice trouble is swelling of your vocal cords. Your cold is most commonly caused by a virus, as is laryngitis. Give your voice a rest. Drink lots of water and avoid aggressive use of your voice and throat clearing. This action may actually lead to bigger problems like vocal cord nodule formation. Ibuprofen may help to reduce swelling and help with a quicker return of your voice. I assume you don't smoke or have GERD. If you do, these can complicate/prolong recovery. With a little more time, your voice should return to normal. If 3-4 weeks go by and your voice trouble persists, see your ENT doctor for further evaluation.

Dr. G - ENT

I have painful breathing when breathing cold air outside. I have allergies. Is that what is making my nose hurt? 

The causes of your symptoms could be a cold, sinusitis, rhinitis, or an anatomy problem, but they are most probably linked to an allergy.  Many people who are diagnosed with allergies also suffer from non-allergic symptoms. These are nasal symptoms that occur from non-allergic triggers such as cold air, chemicals, fragrances and other irritants that are breathed into your nose. The turbinates are the reactive structures wihin the nose and are most sensitive to these various triggers. With adequate allergy treatments, your problems may begin to subside and you will feel better. Let's begin with a topical intranasal steroid spray. Some of these include Nasacort, Rhinocort, Flonase and soon to be released over-the-counter Nasonex: 2 sprays each nostril daily. An over-the-counter antihistamine such as Claritin, Zyrtec or Allegra can be added for combined effect. It may take some time till you see benefits from these medications (usually 10-14 days for full effect of the nasal sprays). Avoiding these triggers as best you can is also very important. Allergy testing may help identify your triggers and provide a detailed, tailored plan for avoidance. Finally, allergy shots (Immunotherapy) or drops (SLIT) may help with long-term benefits.  Let's summarize: 1st- avoid the triggers. Second- consider medications. Third -if problems still exist, see your ENT/Allergist for testing, recommendations and possibly Immunotherapy. Good Luck.

Dr. G - ENT

 

My 3 year old has had many swollen lymph nodes and tonsillar swelling for the past 1 year, at least. All tests so far are normal. Could this be from cancer?

The odds of your child having any form of cancer are very low. Young children have a very active immune system and lymph node swelling often links with tonsillar or adenoid inflammation. It would be best to have your child seen by his/her pediatrician and to follow the lymph node swelling. An antibiotic and/or possibly an intranasal steroid spray are often recommended if the swelling persists. A second opinion by an ENT specialist is also an option. Rest assured, this sounds more normal than cancerous. I hope this helps.

Dr. G - ENT

 

I have an ugly spot on my nose. I hate to see it. It is not painful. What should I do?

This abnormal appearing lesion on your nose needs to be evaluated. Oftentimes, skin changes take place slowly and may be related to sun exposure. See your doctor, dermatologist or ENT specialist who treats skin lesions. A biopsy may be needed to assure the lesion is not a form of skin cancer. Once it is determined NOT to be cancerous, then multiple options can be performed for removal. Laser, skin peels, photodynamic therapy and microderms all are options that we offer in our clinic. Good Luck.

Dr. G - ENT