- People seem to be talking very quietly all the time
- You find it difficult to follow along in conversations
- Higher pitched sounds, like alarm clocks or birds, are harder to hear
- Words with higher frequency consonants like f, t, s, p, and h are difficult to distinguish
- You frequently ask people to repeat themselves
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
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:
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!
Congestion and other nasal issues can make you feel miserable and affect your ability to breathe easily. Here are five common nasal problems and discusses treatment options.
Your nose is particularly sensitive to the effects of allergens in the air. Exposure to pollens, grass, weed, or mold can trigger uncomfortable symptoms, including:
Congestion that makes breathing more difficult
Pain and pressure in your sinuses
Itchy nose, eyes, ears, and throat
Allergy medications or shots, prescription nasal sprays, decongestants, and antihistamines can help prevent or reduce your symptoms.
Non-allergic rhinitis isn't caused by airborne allergens, even though the symptoms are the same. Exposure to strong irritants, such as smoke, dust, pollution, and strong odors can cause the problem. Saline nasal spray can help wash away irritants, reducing your symptoms. Decongestants and prescription corticosteroid or antihistamine nasal sprays may also be helpful.
Nosebleeds happen to nearly everyone occasionally and are usually caused by dry nasal passages or a blow to the nose. Saline nasals sprays and water-based nasal gels help moisten your nasal passages. If your nosebleed is severe, it may be necessary to cauterize the blood vessel to stop the bleeding.
Your septum is a layer of bone and cartilage that separates your nostrils. Very few people have perfectly proportional septums. Although many of us have deviated septums, in most cases the deviation is minor and doesn't affect breathing. If the deviation is severe, you may experience:
Frequent sinus infections
Snoring and sleep apnea
Nasal polyps are small growths that occur on the lining of your nose. Although they're usually benign, they can make it more difficult to breathe, cause runny noses and sinus pain, and increase your risk of sinus infections. Nasal corticosteroid strays can help shrink polyps, and antihistamines may be useful in reducing chronic nasal inflammation. If your polyps are large and other treatments haven't been unsuccessful, your ENT may recommend surgery.
Not sure what's causing your nasal issues? An ear, nose and throat doctor can diagnose the problem and offer treatments that will help you breathe easier. Call your ENT to schedule your appointment.
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.
Having trouble breathing or catching your breath can certainly be a cause for concern. While it’s normal to be out of breath after an intense workout there are times when symptoms such as chest tightness, persistent coughing, wheezing and trouble breathing appear and any of these symptoms are usually signs that something more serious is going on.
As you might imagine, most breathing problems are associated with lung or respiratory conditions. These are problems that an otolaryngologist can easily help you treat or manage. Common lung conditions that can affect breathing include:
Asthma: a chronic condition that affects millions and causes inflammation and airway constriction, which results in coughing, wheezing and chest tightness. Symptoms can range from mild to life threatening.
Pneumonia: an infection of the respiratory tract that causes inflammation and fluid buildup in the lungs. It’s important to see an otolaryngologist immediately for treatment, as untreated pneumonia could be dangerous (and also highly contagious). Symptoms of pneumonia include:
- Shortness of breath
- Shallow breathing
- Productive cough, often with yellow or green mucus
- Chest pain that occurs when breathing deeply or coughing
- Muscle aches
- Sweating and fever
- Loss of appetite
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): this is a group of chronic inflammatory lung diseases that cause airway obstructions within the lungs. The most common types of COPD are chronic bronchitis and emphysema, a condition that most often occurs in smokers. Common symptoms of COPD include:
- Mucus production
- Persistent cough
- Trouble breathing
- Chest tightness
This is a progressive condition that will make breathing even more difficult as the condition advances. It’s important to see an ENT doctor right away if you notice any symptoms of COPD. Early symptoms include exercise-induced rapid breathing, a persistent cough, and clearing your throat often (usually in the morning).
Lung cancer: this type of cancer develops anywhere in the lungs, allowing abnormal cells to multiply until a tumor forms. While many people who develop lung cancer are smokers, this form of cancer can also develop in those who have never smoked a day in their life. Early warning signs of lung cancer include:
- Vocal changes
- Chronic cough
- Bloody mucus when coughing
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling weak
- Unexpected weight loss
Since the early warning signs associated with lung cancer can also be caused by other respiratory conditions it is important to turn to an ear, nose, and throat doctor who will be able to perform the proper diagnostic tests to determine the cause of your symptoms.
If you are having trouble catching your breath it’s important that you find out why this is happening to you. Call your ENT doctor today for an evaluation.
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