While it might not seem like there is a purpose behind why your ear produces earwax, there most certainly is. Even though a lot of people try to clean out their ears on their own, it’s important to remember that ears are self-cleaning. This means that the earwax will typically just come out on its own. Of course, there are times when earwax can become impacted or blocked, which can temporarily cause muffled hearing and discomfort.
Why does impacted earwax happen? There are a few things that could be to blame but one of the most common causes is at-home ear cleanings. While it might seem rather unhygienic, you don’t need to clean your ears, and should never place a cotton swab into the ear canal as you risk damaging or injuring your ear. One look at the package of cotton swabs and you’ll see that it states that you should never place it in your ear. Plus, these swabs can end up just pushing earwax deeper into your ear, which can lead to pain and other problems.
If you have a narrow ear canal or if you are older you may be more prone to earwax impactions. If this is the case, you may want to visit an ENT doctor rather regularly for proper earwax removal. You may also find that you are prone to earwax buildup if you constantly place things in your ears, whether you often use headphones or a hearing aid.
Fortunately, an otolaryngologist will often treat earwax impaction through prescription-strength eardrops that will successfully breakup the wax. Of course, if this treatment doesn’t work then you may need to come in so that we can safely and effectively wash out your ears and dislodge the earwax completely.
Remember to never try to remove the earwax buildup yourself, as they could just end up causing more issues in the long run. While there are kits that you can use at home to help irrigate and clean out the ears, if you aren’t noticing a change in your symptoms after three days it’s a good idea to visit your otolaryngologist for care.
There are several techniques for removing wax, from irrigating the ear to using a painless suctioning device. The earwax treatment we recommend for you will depend on several factors such as health and structure of your ear.
If you are dealing with earwax impaction then it’s time you turned to an otolaryngologist who can safely remove the buildup.
If you’ve ever suffered from a stuffy nose, facial pain, and pressure around the nose, cheeks, and eyes, or experienced postnasal drip (in which nasal mucus drains down your throat), then you’ve experienced a sinus infection before. A sinus infection, also known as sinusitis, occurs when the nasal passages become inflamed or irritated. Sometimes an infection can be so bad that the inflammation can actually block these airways. Acute forms of this infection often come about after a cold; however, those with nasal polyps or a deviated septum may be prone to recurring bouts of sinusitis.
Acute sinusitis can last anywhere from two to four weeks and the condition will often clear up by itself. Of course, sometimes it’s necessary to see an otolaryngologist for treatment. For example, it’s a good idea to call a specialist if you’ve been trying to handle your symptoms at home but they haven’t improved after a few days. You should also schedule an appointment if symptoms get worse.
To manage symptoms of acute sinusitis you may try over-the-counter decongestants and nasal sprays to help reduce inflammation and drain the sinuses. If these medications don’t improve symptoms within a couple of days then you may need a stronger medication such as corticosteroids. In some cases, antibiotics may actually be necessary to clear the infection.
Chronic sinus infections last more than 12 weeks and most sufferers experience the exact same symptoms as those with acute sinusitis such as nasal congestion, facial pressure, or a partial or complete blockage of the nasal cavity. It’s important that you visit an ENT doctor as soon as possible to find out what your treatment options are. In some cases, a prescription medication along with over-the-counter medications and alternative remedies can help ease symptoms until the problem subsides. In more severe cases, the patient may need to consider more aggressive measures.
In the past, the only option for those dealing with severe and chronic sinus infections was to undergo surgery. Luckily, technology has come a long way and now ENT specialists can also offer a simple non-surgical procedure known as balloon sinuplasty. No incisions or cutting is required; the only tool used is a small flexible tube with a deflated balloon at the end of it.
The tube is carefully guided into the obstructed nasal passage where the balloon is inflated to open up the airways and drain the sinuses. Once this occurs, the scope is removed but the airways remain open. The side effects from this procedure are minimal and most patients can return to their normal activities 2 days later.
Of course, sometimes it’s necessary to perform sinus surgery to effectively treat chronic sinusitis. To decide the right treatment option for you, it’s important to schedule a consultation with an otolaryngologist you trust.
Find out if those symptoms of vertigo could be due to problems with the ear.
There are many reasons why you may feel dizzy. Maybe you got up too quickly or you’ve been in a rush all day and realized you haven’t eaten. Of course, there are certain times when the dizziness or spinning you’re feeling is due to an issue within the vestibular system, the system within the ear that is responsible for spatial orientation and balance. Find out when you should turn to an otolaryngologist to treat your symptoms of vertigo.
In order to diagnose your dizziness, there are several diagnostic tests that may be conducted. Your ENT doctor will go through your medical history and then perform a physical examination. We will ask you questions regarding the symptoms you are experiencing and when you experience them. A hearing test is one of the most common procedures performed because it’s the best way to test your balance and the inner ear.
There are many problems that could be to blame for your dizziness including:
- Problems or disorders within the inner ear
- Central nervous system disorders
- High blood pressure
- Bacterial or viral infections
- Side effects of certain medication
Dizziness can be treatable, it’s just important to be able to determine the root cause so we know the best approach for treating your symptoms. So, when should you see an ear, nose and throat doctor regarding your dizziness? You should contact an ENT specialist if:
- Your primary care doctor has not been able to determine the cause of your dizziness
- You are experiencing hearing loss, hearing changes or ringing in the ears
- There is pressure or fullness in the ear or ears
Common ENT causes of dizziness and vertigo include:
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV): caused by the displacement of crystals within the inner eye
- Meniere’s disease: an imbalance of fluid within the inner ear
- Labyrinthitis: inflammation or infection with the inner ear (can cause hearing loss if left untreated)
- Vestibular neuritis: a viral infection of the vestibular nerve
One of the first tests a doctor will perform is an eye movement test that will check for issues within the inner ear (vestibular system). From there, your doctor will create a treatment plan based on the cause. Common treatment options include:
- Medication to reduce motion sickness and nausea from vertigo
- Canalith repositioning procedure: a technique that helps reposition the crystals within the inner ears (for treating BPPV)
- Migraine medications (to treat Meniere’s disease and vestibular migraines)
- Rehabilitation and exercises to improve balance
- Surgery (in rare cases)
If you’ve been dealing with severe or persistent dizziness then it’s time to contact an ENT doctor to find out what’s going on.
It started as a small itch, but now it’s completely bloomed into a sore throat. Do you know the best way to treat it? No matter the cause, your doctor can help you alleviate the pain.
What Could Be Causing Your Sore Throat
The first step in figuring out how to treat your sore throat is determining its source. A sore throat can be a symptom of many different issues, such as smoking or allergies, but the three most common causes are—
A cold: Often, a sore throat is just the first sign of a viral cold. You’ll know if this is the case for you if the pain subsides after a day or two and if you begin exhibiting other cold symptoms, like a runny nose or cough.
Strep throat: Caused by an infection of the streptococcus bacteria passed through saliva and nasal secretions, strep throat is a more severe cause of a sore throat. Other symptoms common to it are white spots on your throat area, fever, and swollen lymph nodes in your neck.
Tonsillitis: This is a very painful sore throat caused by an inflammation of the tonsils from an infection by viruses or bacteria. Tonsillitis’s biggest additional symptom is swollen tonsils with white or yellow spots, but others are bad breath and an impaired voice from the swelling.
What You Can Do at Home
If your sore throat is caused by a virus, there isn’t much you can do other than let the virus run its course. But no matter what is causing your sore throat, there are steps you can take at home to ease your pain and help you get better, including:
∙ Get plenty of sleep and avoid speaking more than necessary
∙ Drink lots of fluids to keep your throat moist and you hydrated. Just avoid dehydrating liquids like coffee and alcohol.
∙ Stick to soothing foods and beverages. This includes warm liquids like soup or water with honey and cool treats like Jell-O or ice cream.
∙ Gargle with saltwater—¼–½tspn sea salt to 4–8oz warm water.
Lozenges and over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can also help alleviate a sore throat, but be cautious if you’re treating your child.
Treatment from Your Doctor
You should see your doctor as soon as possible if you are dealing with a severe or persistent sore throat. A rapid strep test is often needed to diagnose strep throat, and only your doctor can tell for sure if you have tonsillitis and if it is from a bacteria or virus. If the cause of a sore throat is bacteria, your doctor will prescribe you antibiotics like penicillin or amoxicillin to kill it. Always take all of the medication as prescribed, even if you already feel better, and stay home until 24 hours after starting the antibiotic.
Sore throats can definitely be painful but they don’t have to be frustrating or a cause for worry. If you have any questions or concerns about a sore throat or any other symptoms, don’t hesitate to call your doctor today.
For those who deal with sinusitis, or a sinus infection, symptoms usually go away in a week or so. Unfortunately, sometimes this infection can last 12 weeks or longer, resulting in chronic sinusitis. If you are dealing with severe or chronic sinusitis and symptoms don’t go away with at-home treatment then it might be time to discuss with your otolaryngologist whether you could benefit from balloon sinuplasty, a simple non-surgical treatment.
Balloon sinuplasty is a great option for someone dealing with chronic sinusitis that isn’t responding to other treatment options but doesn’t want to immediately turn to traditional sinus surgery. Balloon sinuplasty treats the symptoms associated with chronic sinusitis without incisions or needing to cut the bone or tissue within the nasal cavity.
Instead of making an incision, your ENT doctor will place a small flexible tube with a deflated balloon at the end into the sinus cavity. Once inside, the balloon is carefully inflated until it opens up the inflamed or blocked sinus, allowing it to properly drain. A special saline solution will also be sprayed into the nasal cavity to remove any mucus buildup. Once the sinuses are completely clear your doctor will remove the system. Even once the system is removed the once inflamed and blocked cavity will stay open. This procedure can be performed right in your ENT specialist’s office and you can go home right after.
Unlike traditional sinus surgery, balloon sinuplasty is minimally invasive and doesn’t require extensive downtime. In fact, most patients were able to return to work and their daily activities within 2-3 days. Since there is no cutting or incisions required with balloon sinuplasty, you will also experience less bleeding and fewer post-treatment side effects.
So, how do you know whether or not balloon sinuplasty is the right way to handle your chronic sinus issues? If you’ve been dealing with a sinus infection that has lasted more than 12 weeks and isn’t responding to other treatment options then it might be time to weigh the pros and cons of treatment. You may want to consider this sinus treatment if you are dealing with severe or persistent:
- Facial pain and pressure
- Nasal discharge
- Loss of or reduced smell
Those dealing with recurring sinus infections throughout the year should also consider getting balloon sinuplasty to reduce the likelihood for future sinus infections. Many people who’ve gotten this sinus treatment are still experiencing relief two years after their balloon sinuplasty. If you are dealing with chronic or severe sinus infections regularly it’s time to turn to an ear, nose, and throat specialist.
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