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Posts for category: ENT Care

By Christopher J Lee, MD
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 Christopher J Lee, MD
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 Christopher J Lee, MD
April 16, 2020
Category: ENT Care
Tags: Nasal Polyps  

 If you are having trouble breathing or have recurrent sinus infections, you may also have nasal polyps. Nasal polyps are noncancerous growths which hang down from the walls of your nasal passages or sinuses. You are at greater risk of having nasal polyps if you have:

  • Asthma or allergies

  • Allergic fungal sinusitis

  • Recurring sinus infections

  • Aspirin sensitivity

  • Cystic fibrosis

If you are at greater risk of forming nasal polyps, there is a lot you can do to prevent them. Remember to:

  • Get treatment to manage asthma and allergies and prevent inflammation of your nasal passages and sinuses.

  • Avoid tobacco smoke, fumes, dust, and allergens to prevent nasal irritation.

  • Wash your hands frequently to prevent transmission of virus and bacteria which can cause infection.

  • Use a humidifier to moisten the air in your home which keeps your nasal passages moist.

  • Use a saline solution to rinse your nasal passages and sinuses and to help remove irritating substances.

You may not experience any symptoms if you have small nasal polyps, however, larger nasal polyps can cause:

  • Breathing difficulties

  • Postnasal drip

  • Constant stuffiness

  • Loss of smell or taste

  • Headaches or facial pain

  • Chronic inflammation in your sinuses (sinusitis)

  • Frequent nasal or sinus infections

  • Snoring or sleep apnea

Fortunately there are effective treatments for nasal polyps. Your doctor may suggest:

  • Medications to shrink the size of the polyps or eliminate them; some common medications include:

  • Nasal corticosteroid spray to reduce inflammation

  • Injectable or oral corticosteroids in addition to spray

  • Antihistamines to reduce inflammation from allergies

  • Antibiotics to treat chronic sinus infections

For larger nasal polyps that don’t respond to treatment with medications, surgery might be indicated. Surgery is performed endoscopically using an endoscope with a camera attached which is inserted into your nostril and guided up your nasal passages into your sinuses. Tiny instruments are used to remove the polyps or other growths interfering with breathing.

Call your ENT today and start breathing better tomorrow!

By Christopher J Lee, MD
March 16, 2020
Category: ENT Care
Tags: Sore Throat  

A sore throat will happen to most people, and while this is usually the result of an infection, if you are dealing with persistent or recurring symptoms, you may be wondering when it might actually be time to see an ENT specialist.

Contagious infections are usually the cause behind most sore throats and these infections are either viral or bacterial. Sinus infections can also cause sore throats, particularly if you are dealing with postnasal drip. If you battle allergies to mold, dust, pollen, or pet dander, then you may also experience a sore throat along with a stuffy or runny nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing.

The most common viral infections to cause sore throats include everything from a simple cold and flu to whooping cough and mononucleosis (mono). Mono is one infection that can last weeks and cause severe symptoms including fever, chills, trouble breathing, and extreme exhaustion. If you suspect that your sore throat could be due to mono, it’s important that you see your otolaryngologist for treatment.

Bacterial infections can also lead to a sore throat, more particularly infections caused by the strep bacteria. These infections include pneumonia, sinus infections, and tonsillitis. Along with a sore throat, you may also experience a fever, red or white patches in the back of the throat, inflamed tonsils, and/or swollen lymph nodes in the neck.

Sometimes, your sore throat can simply be irritated, whether that be from the weather, environmental pollutants, or vocal strain. From shouting and singing loudly at a concert to mouth breathing at night, there are many scenarios in which the back of the throat can dry out and cause discomfort. This is usually something that will go away on its own and is usually nothing to worry about.

However, if you find that your sore throat is persistent and occurs most mornings when you first wake up, this could be a warning sign of acid reflux. Acid reflux causes partially digested food and acid from the stomach to flow back up into the throat, which can cause burning and irritation of the throat’s delicate lining. If left untreated, acid reflux can do serious damage to the throat.

If your sore throat is accompanied by vocal changes including hoarseness, trouble swallowing, or difficulty breathing, these issues require an immediate checkup from an ENT doctor, as they could be signs of a polyp, growth, or tumor on the throat or voice box.

If you have been dealing with recurring sore throats or symptoms that last anywhere from 7-10 days then you should seek care. An otolaryngologist will be able to diagnose and treat any and all conditions affecting the ear, nose, and throat, as well as the head and neck. If you are concerned about your sore throat, schedule an appointment today.

By Christopher J Lee, MD
June 03, 2019
Category: ENT Care
Tags: Breathing Problems  

Do you have breathing problems such as wheezing, shortness of breath, a chronically stuffed nose, or throat tightness? If so, you should seek a consultation with your local ENT physician. These doctors have numerous ways to diagnose and treat your breathing problems associated with the nose and upper airway so you can function well and get on with your daily life.

The symptoms of breathing problems

Breathing problems associated with asthma, pneumonia, COPD, or bronchitis usually differ from those stemming from the nasal passages, larynx, or trachea. For respiratory difficulty associated with the lungs, patients see a pulmonary specialist. For the upper airway, people see an otolaryngologist.

What are the symptoms of upper airway breathing problems? You may experience some or all of the following:

  • Wheezing which is noticeable to other people
  • Persistent coughing
  • Mouth breathing
  • Voice hoarseness
  • Fatigue to the extreme, particularly on exertion
  • Throat tightness
  • Constant nasal congestion and frequent nose blowing

What could be the cause?

According to Michigan Medicine, chronic or acute sinusitis (aka sinus infection) affects millions of people in the US. If left untreated, sinusitis leaves patients feeling fatigued due to the increased symptoms of coughing, congestion, and nose blowing.

Common causes for acute sinusitis include inflammation from allergies and exposure to viruses and bacteria from environmental pollution. Chronic sinusitis may stem from exposure to tobacco smoke, although it arises more commonly from nasal polyps, inflamed sinus turbinates, and deviated septums.

Diagnosing and treating breathing problems

As related to the upper airway, your ENT will ask you to describe your symptoms. Then, your nasal passages and sinuses will be examined with an endoscope, a thin, lighted tube which contains a small camera.

The otolaryngologist takes images of structures which could be obstructing your airway and causing your symptoms. Precise CT scanning gives the doctor more views of what's happening inside the air-filled cavities that we call sinuses.

Common treatments include steroidal sprays, oral steroids, antibiotics, allergy testing, pain treatment, and sinus surgery (a last resort option). Additionally, simple nasal irrigation with a Neti pot can flush out excess mucus, open passages, and reduce breathing difficulties.

Tackle your breathing problems

Your ENT doctor can help relieve your discomfort by listening to your symptoms, carefully performing a full assessment, and curating a treatment plan tailored to your needs. Make the call today!