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By Children's Ear, Nose, and Throat Associates
August 03, 2020
Category: ENT Care
Eustachian Tube DysfunctionThe eustachian tube is a narrow canal that runs from the throat to the middle ear, and it is responsible for regulating pressure within the middle ear. If you’ve ever yawned and felt your ears become “unplugged” then you’ve experienced the Eustachian tube at work. However, sometimes people can deal with eustachian tube dysfunction, which can affect the pressure in the ears. Those with eustachian tube dysfunction may experience:
  • Pressure or fullness in the ears
  • Muffled hearing
  • Pain in the ears
  • Ringing in the ears (known as tinnitus)
  • Issues with balance
  • A popping or clicking sensation in the ears
Sometimes these symptoms are exacerbated by altitude changes such as flying or riding in an elevator.

Children are often more at risk for developing Eustachian tube dysfunction because these tubes are shorter than they are in adults. This means that it’s easier for bacteria or fluid to get trapped within the middle ear. The good news is that these symptoms usually go away on their own and typically without treatment. There are things you can do such as chewing gum to help make the issue go away. If the problem persists then it’s time to see an otolaryngologist.

Once your ENT doctor has conducted a thorough examination of you or your child’s ears there are several approaches for alleviating the symptoms of eustachian tube dysfunction:
  • If Eustachian tube dysfunction is due to an allergic reaction then your doctor may prescribe decongestants or antihistamines, which can reduce swelling and target the body’s response to the allergen.
  • A minor procedure can be performed in which an otolaryngologist makes a small incision in the eardrum to remove the fluid that’s trapped in the middle ear. The eardrum will then heal in a couple of days.
  • Sometimes implants are placed into the eardrums to help drain the fluid and to prevent fluid from building up. This is a recommended treatment for children who develop frequent ear infections due to eustachian tube dysfunction.
  • A special balloon catheter procedure (similar to the one used to treat chronic sinusitis) can be directed into the nose and into the eustachian tube, where it opens up the tubes to help them drain properly.
Your ENT doctor can talk to you about the different options for helping you or your child deal with eustachian tube dysfunction. While this condition is often self-limiting and will usually go away on its own. If symptoms become severe or problematic then it’s time to see a qualified medical professional.
By Children's Ear, Nose, and Throat Associates
July 17, 2020
Category: ENT Health
Tags: Ear Tube Surgery  
Ear Tube SurgeryMiddle ear infections (known as otitis media) are quite common in young children, and while they are usually nothing to worry about it, it can become a problem if your child is dealing with frequent ear infections. If your child has the occasional ear infection, then you probably won’t need to consider ear tube surgery; usually, your otolaryngologist can treat the problem through antibiotics or other types of non-surgical procedures. While ear tube surgery is one of the most common surgeries performed on children each year, having a couple of ear infections throughout the year usually isn’t enough to warrant surgery.

You may want to speak with an ENT specialist about the benefits of ear tube surgery if your child has experienced at least three ear infections within the last six months. Also, if your child is dealing with muffled hearing or any hearing loss due to fluid build-up in the middle ear, then ear tubes may be beneficial. It's important to treat this quickly, as hearing problems can delay speech. Another situation that may warrant this surgery is if your child has a collapsing eardrum (known as atelectasis).

Your doctor can tell you whether or not your child could benefit from ear tube surgery. The purpose of the procedure is to place ear tubes into the ears to drain the fluid from the middle ear. This will serve two purposes:
  • To prevent future ear infections (or, at the very least, make future infections milder)
  • To improve hearing in your child
This procedure is performed by a qualified ear, nose, and throat surgeon and is performed under general anesthesia (this means your child will be asleep during the procedure). The surgery is fairly simple: a small hole is made in each eardrum to help drain the fluid. Then, once the fluid is properly drained, the surgeon will place these small tubes into the holes of the eardrums so that any fluid continues to drain properly. The surgery itself only takes about 10 to 15 minutes and children can get home the very same day.

Ear tubes typically stay in the eardrums for about 18 months, depending on the type of tube that was placed; however, if the ear tubes do not fall out on their own within a couple of years then an ENT surgeon may need to surgically remove them.

If your child is dealing with severe and recurring ear infections, you must see an ENT doctor right away to find out what’s going on and to make sure that they are getting the treatment they need. Ear tube surgery isn’t for every child, so talk with your qualified medical provider before deciding whether this is the right decision.
By Children's Ear, Nose, and Throat Associates
June 24, 2020
Category: ENT Care
Tags: Throat Cancer  
Throat CancerYour ENT doctor sees, diagnoses, and treats many conditions related to the ear, nose, and throat. One of the most worrisome is throat cancer, along with malignancies of the pharynx, tonsils, and larynx. The Cancer Treatment Centers of America reports that the incidence of throat cancer increases with age (65 and older) and gender (male). As with most cancers, early recognition of symptoms, a proper diagnosis, and the right treatment are the keys to recovery.
 
Signs of throat cancer
The American Cancer Society says a persistent sore throat--one lasting two weeks or more--is a danger sign you should report to your primary care physician or otolaryngologist right away. Other signs of malignancy include:
  • A continuing cough
  • Hoarseness of voice
  • Unexplained and significant weight loss
  • Trouble swallowing easily (dysphagia)
  • Pain in the jaw or ear
  • White or red patches or sores in the mouth which do not heal
  • Nose bleeds
  • Headaches
  • Swollen tissues anywhere in the head/neck area
  • Numbness in the mouth and especially the tongue
  • Continual nasal congestion
Sadly, untreated throat cancer spreads to other parts of the body, including the lips, lungs, and bones. More severe symptoms, such as bone pain or coughing up blood, can indicate metastasis of throat cancer.
 
Risk factors and prevention
Many throat cancers can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle. Lifestyle risk factors include:
  • Smoking cigarettes and chewing tobacco
  • Excessive alcohol consumption (more than two drinks daily if you a man and more than one a day for women)
  • HPV exposure (Human Papilloma Virus) through oral sex
  • A diet low in vegetables and fruit
  • GERD, or acid reflux disease, in which stomach acid backs up into the esophagus
  • Trouble with breathing and speaking
  • Headaches
To minimize your risk, your physician may recommend smoking cessation, losing weight to avoid GERD, a diet rich in fiber, fruits, and vegetables, and less alcohol. Asbestos exposure poses a cancer risk. Additionally, your dentist helps with early detection as he or she checks you for oral cancer with each routine office visit.

How to beat it
The American Cancer Society reports that about 12,000 people in the United States receive a throat cancer diagnosis annually. Five-year survival rates improve with early staging. See your doctor right away if you exhibit these concerning symptoms. Live longer, and live well.
By Children's Ear, Nose, and Throat Associates
June 12, 2020
Category: ENT Care
Tags: Allergy Medication  
An ear, nose, and throat professional (ENT) is a great resource when it comes to your allergies. Whether your symptoms are caused by seasonal changes or triggered by animal dander, an ENT can help you find the medication you need. Here is a small guide to finding the right allergy medication for you. 
 
Decongestants vs. Antihistamines
There are two major types of allergy medication. Understanding the difference between them helps you find the right fit. A decongestant relieves your symptoms after your allergies have kicked in. They clear out your stuffy or runny nose, along with relieving any itching or sneezing. Antihistamines focus on stopping your allergies before they even start. They give you twenty-four-hour protection so you don’t have to worry. 
 
Nasal Sprays
Nasal sprays are a quick and direct way to clear up nasal congestion. These are bought over-the-counter or with a prescription. You insert the spray into each nostril, doing one or two pumps for the full effect. They are available as both decongestants and antihistamines. 
 
Eye Drops 
A common problem with allergies is how it affects the eyes. They can get red and watery, causing pain and discomfort. This is especially true if you use contact lenses for vision. There are eye drops targeted specifically at allergy relief. These will clear up any redness and discomfort quickly.
 
Medication Side Effects
Talk to your ENT about any side effects of allergy medication that they recommend or prescribe. You can voice any concerns that you may have, guaranteeing a medication that works for you. That’s one of the benefits of getting a prescription medication compared to over-the-counter. If you do purchase over-the-counter, be aware of these possible complications. 
  • Over-the-counter antihistamines have been known to cause blurry vision, constipation, drowsiness, and possibly weight gain.
  • Nasal sprays can lead to constipation, nose bleeds, and an upset stomach.
  • Oral decongestants have been linked to high blood pressure.
If you experience any of these symptoms after taking a medication or nasal spray, talk to your ENT right away. They can advise you to discontinue a pharmaceutical and switch to something different. Through trial and error, you’ll find a functional treatment plan that works for your needs. 
By Children's Ear, Nose, and Throat Associates
June 01, 2020
Category: ENT Health Care
Tags: Dysphagia  
You may take it for granted, but swallowing water, food, or saliva is actually a very complicated process. It requires vast systems of nerves and muscles working together. Patients that struggle to swallow normally have what is known as Dysphagia. This is not a stand-alone condition but a symptom of something else. It’s why you need to schedule an appointment with an Ears, Nose, and Throat specialist (ENT) right away. The elderly are especially at risk and can end up aspirating. 
 
The Swallowing Process
There are four distinct stages of swallowing. You do this hundreds of times every day without even realizing it. 
  • The oral preparation stage is where the food or liquid is made ready for swallowing. In terms of food, this means chewing your food. 
  • Next is the oral stage where the tongue moves food or liquid to the back of the mouth. This starts the swallowing process.
  • Then comes the pharyngeal stage, where the contents of the mouth go through the pharynx, throat, and esophagus. 
  • Last is the esophageal stage, where it transfers from the esophagus into your stomach. 
Symptoms of Dysphagia
Pay attention to these symptoms if dysphagia is suspected:
  • A constant feeling of something, either water or liquid, being stuck in the throat.
  • Problems controlling saliva production, i.e. drooling.
  • The sensation of a lump in the throat.
  • Discomfort in the chest or throat.
  • Coughing or choking when trying to swallow, drink, or eat. This is due to substances being pulled into the lungs. 
  • Difficulties sustaining a normal weight caused by swallowing interfering with nutritional intake. 
What Is Causing My Dysphagia? 
The most common cause is Gastroesophageal Reflux. This is a GI condition where stomach acid travels up the esophagus and pharynx. Other possibilities include: 
  • Tonsillitis or throat infections
  • Scarring or damage to the esophagus
  • Medication side effects 
  • Tumors in the lungs, esophagus, or throat
  • Nerve diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
What to Expect With Treatment
Your ENT specialist works with you to determine the cause of your dysphagia. Addressing the underlying condition can start a path to recovery. 
 
In some cases the cause is unclear. Your ENT will do everything possible to determine what is behind your dysphagia. They will ask you about the history of this problem and examine your throat. They might recommend a swallow test or various types of laryngoscopy. 




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