Posts for category: ENT Health
What is Thyroid Cancer?
Thyroid cancer involves having cancerous cells and tissue where your thyroid gland is located. The thyroid is a gland at the base of your neck, right below your Adam’s apple. This gland produces important hormones to regulate your blood pressure, heart rate, weight, and your body temperature.
You may be at higher risk of thyroid cancer if you are a woman, have a family history of thyroid cancer, or have had high levels of exposure to radiation.
There are several types of thyroid cancer, including:
- Papillary thyroid cancer, which is the most common type; it shows up in follicular cells which make and store the thyroid hormones. Papillary thyroid cancer is more common in people aged 30 to 50.
- Follicular thyroid cancer, which also occurs in the follicular cells; this type of thyroid cancer typically happens to people over age 50.
- Medullary thyroid cancer, which starts in the C cells; the cells that produce the hormone calcitonin; if calcitonin levels are elevated, it can indicate medullary thyroid cancer.
- Anaplastic thyroid cancer, which is a rare, fast-growing form of thyroid cancer; this type of thyroid cancer typically affects people who are at least 60 years old.
- Thyroid lymphoma, which is a rare type of thyroid cancer starting in the immune system cells; thyroid lymphoma typically happens to older adults.
Thyroid cancer often has mild or no symptoms, but there are a few recognizable signs and symptoms to pay attention to. According to the Mayo Clinic, some common signs and symptoms of thyroid cancer include:
- Swollen lymph nodes in your neck
- Pain in your neck or throat
- Pain or difficulty swallowing
- Chronically hoarse voice
- A lump in your neck
Thyroid cancer treatment works best in the early stages of the disease. Your doctor may recommend these effective treatments for thyroid cancer:
- Surgical procedures, to remove a portion or all of your thyroid gland and associated lymph nodes
- Radioactive iodine therapy, to destroy remaining thyroid tissue to prevent the cancer from spreading
- Thyroid hormone treatment, to replace missing thyroid hormone
Your thyroid performs an important function by producing hormones which are vital to the proper functioning of your body. You can help protect your thyroid by visiting your doctor regularly for a physical examination and lab testing if necessary.
Head and neck cancers aren’t as often talked about or publicized as much as other types of cancer, but it doesn’t make these any less serious. Regardless of whether a member of your family has been diagnosed with head and neck cancer or you are experiencing some worrisome symptoms of your own, it’s important that you have an ENT specialist on your side to provide you with the care you need.
Head and neck cancer is an umbrella term that encompasses five different kinds of cancers that affect the pharynx (throat), sinuses, larynx (voice box), mouth, and the salivary glands.
Cancer can develop anywhere on the lips or inside the mouth. You may notice a red or white patch, or a lump, in your mouth that doesn’t go away. You may notice facial swelling, particularly around the jaw. You may also have difficulty swallowing or chewing. While a dentist can often pinpoint these early warning signs during a routine dental exam, if they suspect that it might be cancerous they may also turn to an ENT doctor for further medical care.
The pharynx runs from your nose to the esophagus and cancer of the throat can cause difficulty breathing or swallowing, persistent or severe throat pain, ringing in the ears, or difficulty hearing.
Cancer of the Larynx
The voice box (this includes your vocal chords and a structure known as the epiglottis) can also develop cancer. Symptoms are similar to pharyngeal cancer, as you may experience difficulty or painful swallowing or ear pain. You may also notice changes to your voice include chronic hoarseness. It may also feel as if a lump is constantly in your throat.
Cancer of the Salivary Glands
The salivary glands, as you may have already guessed, are responsible for the production of saliva. These glands are found in the mouth close to the jawbone. Signs of salivary gland cancer include persistent or severe jawbone and facial pain, muscle numbness, or weakness in the face, as well as swelling near the jawbone.
Paranasal Sinus and Nasal Cavity Cancer
It’s important to recognize that the symptoms of nasal cavity cancer are similar to a lot of other less serious condition; however, it’s important to seek medical attention from an ENT specialist if you notice these symptoms:
- Chronic or recurring nosebleeds
- Chronic or severe nasal blockages or sinus infections
- Facial swelling, particularly around the nose and eyes
- Recurring pain in the upper teeth
Do you have questions about head and neck cancer? Are you experiencing any symptoms that give you pause? If so, this is the perfect time to turn to an otolaryngologist who can provide you with the diagnostic care and treatment you need.
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.
While there have been commercials and ads occurring for years that talk about the negative impact smoking has on your health, perhaps it’s been something that you haven’t really paid attention to; however, if you’ve been smoking for a while and you are looking for a reason to quit, let an otolaryngologist tell you the many long-term and potentially serious health problems smoking can cause.
Many of the chemicals found in cigarettes are harmful and several of them have even been linked to cancer; however, smoking is the most common preventable cause of death in the US, according to the CDC. So it’s important to quit smoking if you want to protect yourself from:
Every time you take a puff of a cigarette or consume a tobacco product you are exposing your lungs to poisonous chemicals that damage both the airways and the alveoli in your lungs. Along with the increased risk of infection, you are also putting yourself at an incredible risk for long-term or potentially serious lung problems such as:
- Chronic bronchitis
- Lung cancer
If you are someone who has asthma, tobacco may not only increase your chances of an asthma attack but it can also make asthma attacks worse.
The nicotine found in tobacco products is known to restrict blood flow. Not only does this affect healing but also it can damage the walls of the blood vessels and raise your blood pressure. As a result, this can increase your chances of heart disease, heart attack or stroke. Of course, exposing others around you to smoke increases their risk of cardiovascular problems, as well.
Besides the increased risk of throat, lung or esophageal cancer, smoking can also increase your chances of pancreatic cancer. Furthermore, smoking affects insulin production, which can increase your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
Smoking and Other Health Problems
Smoking affects just about every system in your body, from your skin and eyes to your stomach and colon. Smoking also increases your risk of cancer-related death. By quitting smoking you could drastically cut your risk of cardiovascular problems in just one year. Your risk of stroke or developing cancer will also drop drastically the first few years after you quit.
If you are trying to quit smoking you don’t have to do it alone. Talk to an ENT doctor who can provide you with the recommendations you need to quit smoking for good. You deserve to lead a long, healthy life.
While hearing loss—to some degree—is fairly common as we get older, it doesn’t mean that younger adults can’t also experience some form of hearing loss. Whether you are concerned that your hearing is declining or you are trying to prevent hearing loss from happening to you, here are some reasons why this problem can occur earlier on in life.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
One of the most common reasons people develop hearing loss is exposure to loud and harmful noises. A lot of these noises are present in our environment such as the construction happening right outside our apartment or the traffic jam you always seem to get stuck in at rush hour. Repeated exposure to these harmful elements can lead to noise-induced hearing loss (NIFL). Everyone from children and teens to adults can develop this form of hearing loss.
In some cases, NIFL is caused by exposure to one extremely loud sound (e.g. explosion), while other times it’s due to repeated, long-term exposure to harmful noises. Everything from hunting to using a lawnmower can put your hearing at risk.
Luckily, NIFL is preventable. It’s important to understand that certain noises can be dangerous to your hearing. By incorporating more hearing-friendly practices into your day-to-day life you could reduce your risk of hearing loss. Besides knowing what sounds are harmful to your ears, it’s important that you consider wearing some kind of protection (e.g. ear plugs) when exposed to these noises. If you don’t have protection and can’t reduce the sound, try to stay as far away from it as possible.
Injuries the eardrum, sudden changes in pressure or even loud noises can cause the eardrum to rupture. Sometimes an undetected ear infection can also cause this problem. As a result, hearing can be affected.
While sometimes hearing loss after a ruptured eardrum is only temporary if the eardrum doesn’t heal properly or isn’t treated this could lead to repeated ear infections which, over time, could cause permanent hearing loss. If you are someone who is prone to infections, or if you think your eardrum has ruptured, it’s important that you turn to an ENT doctor right away.
If you aren’t able to hear people as clearly as you once did it’s important that you get a hearing screening as soon as possible. The sooner you seek care the sooner you can get the treatment you need to prevent your hearing loss from getting worse. Turn to an otolaryngologist today.