Nasal congestion, nasal blockages, facial pain, and pressure—these are all symptoms that arise when sinuses go rogue. Just like the rest of the body, these hollow cavities within the skull can also fall victim to a variety of conditions and problems. The most common sinus problems include:
Acute sinusitis (also known as a sinus infection)
Unfortunately, there are countless people around the world dealing with these problems, and these chronic sinus problems have even been linked to a higher rate of depression. This is why it’s so important to have an otolaryngologist by your side that can help you get to the bottom of your symptoms and improve how your sinuses feel and function.
Millions of Americans deal with acute sinus infections each year. While they can be a nuisance, they usually don’t cause much harm and will often just run their course without treatment. In the meantime, you can ease your symptoms by applying warm facial compresses, taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, staying hydrated and using nasal sprays, if necessary. Symptoms of acute sinusitis usually go away within one month.
Unfortunately, there are some people who deal with chronic sinusitis, in which symptoms last more than three months and don’t seem to respond to at-home care. When this happens it’s important that you seek medical care from a qualified ENT doctor who can provide you with more aggressive options for handling the infection.
In the past, the only treatment option for severe or chronic sinus infections was t surgery; however, now ENT doctors offer a minimally invasive treatment known as balloon sinuplasty, which is quick and easy to perform, doesn’t require any incisions or bone removal, and boasts a very fast recovery period. Balloon sinuplasty can be a great alternative to traditional sinus surgery.
A lot of people have a deviated septum but might not even realize it. If it isn’t giving you any problems then it’s not something to worry about; however, if you are dealing with severe or chronic nasal congestion, particularly on one side, this could definitely be alerting you to the fact that you have a deviated septum. Those with a deviated septum are also more likely to develop nosebleeds or recurring sinus infections. Surgery is often required to repair the septum.
Allergies are another common issue that people deal with, particularly during certain times of the year. If you find yourself fighting back sneezing and congestion rather frequently then you could be allergic to pollen, pet dander, or dust mites. Other allergy symptoms include:
Runny or stuffy nose
There are a variety of medications and lifestyle modifications that can keep your allergies in check. It’s important that you seek the care of an ENT specialist, as untreated allergy symptoms can often get worse.
Do you find that certain times of the year it’s difficult to go outdoors without developing watery itchy eyes or sneezing your head off? Does coming in contact with your friends’ pets leave you dealing with red itchy welts on your skin and a runny nose? If you said “yes” to these questions, you could very well be dealing with allergies.
While there isn’t a cure for allergies, there are many ways to treat this issue. If you aren’t finding relief through over-the-counter antihistamines, nasal sprays, and other allergy medications, it’s time to turn to an otolaryngologist for help. It’s important that you don’t just ignore your allergy symptoms, as they can often get worse if left untreated.
First and foremost, it’s important to figure out what is causing your allergy symptoms to flare-up. Everything from pollen, mold dust, dust mites, dander, and mildew could be causing your symptoms. The sooner you and your ENT doctor are able to get to the root of your flare-ups the easier it will be to treat your allergies.
While an otolaryngologist may choose to prescribe medication to help you better manage your symptoms, there are also a variety of lifestyle modifications you can incorporate into your daily routine to reduce flare-ups.
For starters, it’s important to reduce how often you come in contact with the offending allergen. This may require you to close your windows during the day, vacuum the carpets and furniture a few times a week, bathe your trusty pet regularly, use an air purifier with a HEPA filter in your bedroom, or place a protective covering over your mattress.
Even though some people may find relief from commercial allergy products, those dealing with persistent or moderate-to-severe allergies may require a more specific and stronger medication. There are a variety of prescription nasal sprays, eye drops, and other antihistamines that can reduce congestion, eye redness and itching, and other allergy complaints. Of course, if these lifestyle changes and medications aren’t enough to get your symptoms under control then your allergy specialist may discuss the pros and cons of getting allergy shots.
Don’t let allergies get the better of you. There are ways to get your allergies under control so they don’t control you. Don’t fight your allergy alone; turn to an ENT specialist for help.
There are many different kinds of mouth sores caused by many different conditions. They can range from acutely painful to completely symptomless. You can have mouth sores and may not even know it. Some mouth sores can be treated with over-the-counter medications, but others should be treated by an ear, nose and throat specialist, or ENT.
These are just a few of the more common types of mouth sores:
Canker sores--which are also called aphthous ulcers, appear as white or red ulcerated areas and are acutely painful. You may get canker sores from eating highly acidic foods like citrus fruits or tomatoes. You can also get them if you are under stress. Remember that canker sores are not contagious. You can treat canker sores yourself with an over-the-counter medicated cream or visit your ENT specialist who can prescribe a corticosteroid cream for pain relief and to heal the sores.
Cold sores--which are also called fever blisters, are caused by the herpes simplex virus and can reoccur from sun exposure, trauma or excess stress. Remember that they are contagious! Don’t touch them because you can spread the virus to other areas of your body. You can also spread the herpes virus to other people. If you have cold sores, it’s best to visit your ENT specialist. Your doctor can prescribe antiviral cream containing acyclovir, an effective treatment to heal herpes sores.
It is especially important to see your ENT specialist if you develop mouth sores that don’t heal and you use tobacco products. You may have a potentially serious precancerous or cancerous lesion. Your ENT specialist will need to do a biopsy to diagnose your mouth sores.
You should also see your ENT specialist if you develop any of the following signs or symptoms:
- Hoarseness when you speak that lasts more than 2 weeks
- A mouth sore that doesn’t heal within 2 weeks
- Difficulty talking or swallowing
- Feeling a mass or lump in your neck or mouth
- A sensation of numbness in your mouth or face
You can prevent mouth sores by following a few simple tips. It’s important to:
- Stop or limit using tobacco products
- Practice excellent oral hygiene to limit oral bacteria
- Have regularly scheduled dental examinations
- Avoid using hard toothbrushes or eating hard foods
- Avoid very hot foods and drinks
- Take a multivitamin every day
Don’t take chances with mouth sores. Seek out your neighborhood ear, nose and throat specialist because early diagnosis is important to achieving an excellent outcome. You don’t want your mouth sores to turn into a more serious condition. Call today and get some relief from your mouth sores!
Your 12-year-old suddenly has a bad sore throat. In fact, it's the worse one she's ever had. Could this be the strep throat that so many parents talk about? Your ear, nose, and throat doctor, Dr. Gopesh Sharma, sees scores of strep throat infections in his Fairfax, VA, office. He knows the signs and symptoms of this common problem and can help your child feel better quickly.
The signs of strep throat
Strep throat is a painful and very contagious infection usually suffered by children and teens. Typically, adults do not get "strep," as it is commonly called. Spread by contact with respiratory droplets (from a cough or sneeze), strep throat infections in Fairfax exhibit symptoms of:
- Sudden and very painful soreness of the throat
- Difficulty swallowing and sometimes speaking
- Fever of 101 degrees F or higher
- Swelling and redness of the tonsils and adenoids
- Swelling and tenderness of the lymph nodes in the neck area
- White patches (pus) visible on the tonsils and roof of the mouth
- Possible nausea and vomiting
- Petechiae (tiny red spots) on the roof of the mouth
Unfortunately, the individual with a strep infection is most contagious during what physicians call the prodromal phase of the illness. In other words, the patient can spread the infection easily to others before any active symptoms show.
Diagnosis and treatment
The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta states that a "group A strep" bacteria causes this illness. To distinguish it from a sore throat from a virus, Dr. Sharma will do a rapid strep test, an easy swabbing at the back of the throat. This test yields reliable confirmation of the strep bacteria, allowing your otolaryngologist to prescribe antibiotics (usually a penicillin) to heal the infection.
Additionally, taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen controls fever, body aches, and headache pain. Your child should recover completely within three to seven days.
Preventing strep throat
Universal precautions are best:
- Wash your hands with soap and water several times a day
- Cover sneezes and coughs with a handkerchief, tissue or sleeve
- Avoid sharing cups, plates, and utensils
- Stay home during the active phase of the illness (until fever has completely resolved for 24 hours)
Dr. Sharma and his dedicated team are experts in many diseases and conditions of the ears, nose and
throat. They deliver prompt and thoughtful care for patients of all ages. If you suspect strep throat infection in your family, call the office in Fairfax, VA, for an appointment at (703) 573-3177.
Have coughing spells become a normal part of your day? Living with constant coughing can leave you feeling tired and dizzy. Determining the cause is an important step that will help your ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor find a treatment that will stop your chronic coughing.
What causes chronic coughing?
Chronic coughing can be caused by a variety of factors and illnesses, including:
- Illnesses and Infections: Coughing is common if you have the flu, a cold, bronchitis, pneumonia or other infections. It can continue to occur for weeks after you first become sick, even though you've begun to feel better.
- Postnasal Drip: Postnasal drip occurs when mucus from your nose drips down into your throat. The mucus irritates the lining of the throat, causing you a chronic cough.
- Smoking: Chronic coughing is common in smokers. It can also be a problem if you don't smoke, but are frequently exposed to cigarettes or cigar smoke.
- COPD: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) causes chronic inflammation in your bronchial tubes, which triggers coughing.
- Asthma: Coughing is common when your asthma isn't under control. Exposure to strong odors, chemicals, cold air or other triggers can cause coughing.
- ACE Inhibitors: These drugs treat heart failure and lower blood pressure. Some people develop chronic coughs when taking them.
- GERD: Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when acids from your stomach flow back into your esophagus and throat, resulting in irritation that triggers coughing.
- Exposure to Pollution and Chemicals: If you live in a polluted area or work with chemicals, toxins or irritants, you may be more likely to develop a chronic cough.
- Lung Cancer: Although most cases of chronic coughing aren't due to cancer, tumors can cause coughing.
When should you see an ENT?
If your cough doesn't get better after two or three weeks, it's a good idea to call your ear, nose and throat doctor. Other symptoms that warrant a call include:
- Fever higher than 100F
- Coughing up blood or yellow or green phlegm
- Difficulty breathing
- Night sweats
- Extreme fatigue
Chronic coughing can put your health at risk. If you or your family members experience frequent bouts of coughing, make an appointment with your ENT.
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