A canker sore is a painful ulcer that often develops within the mouth or tongue, but can also be found within the throat or on the lips. Canker sores should not be confused with cold sores (fever blisters), which are the result of a virus. There are several factors that can lead to canker sores, from spicy foods and vitamin deficiencies to stress or certain disorders.
While canker sores are benign and don’t require treatment, most of the time people are looking for ways to reduce canker sore pain until the sore heals on its own. There are two types of canker sores: simple and complex. Simple canker sores only appear a few times a year, usually lasting up to one or two weeks. Complex canker sores, on the other hand, aren’t as common and appear more frequently.
What causes canker sores?
While experts still don’t know what causes canker sores, we do know that there are certain things that can trigger the development of a sore. This includes:
- Spicy foods
- Acidic foods (e.g. lemons; tomatoes)
- Nutritional deficiencies (e.g. zinc; vitamin B-12)
- Minor injuries to the mouth (e.g. biting your cheek)
- Food sensitivities
- Hormonal changes
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Poor or weak immune system
- Celiac disease
When should I see a doctor?
It might be time to consult an ENT doctor if you are noticing:
- Sores that last several weeks
- Recurrent outbreaks
- Pain that isn’t responding to at-home care
- Severe pain that affects eating
- Extremely large sores
- Sores accompanied by a high fever
What are some ways to treat canker sores?
Most of the time canker sores do not require any treatment; however, if you are dealing with extremely large, painful or numerous sores then you may need to seek care from an ENT physician. Since canker sores will heal on their own, your doctor’s goal will be to help manage your pain through common treatment options such as:
- Topical medications: Over-the-counter or prescription medications can be used to numb the pain or even speed up the healing process.
- Oral rinses: To reduce inflammation or to numb the pain a doctor may prescribe a special mouth rinse.
- Oral medications: If canker sores aren’t responsive to other treatment options, oral medications may be recommended. Such options include steroids.
- Supplements: If your canker sores are the result of a nutritional deficiency then a doctor may recommend taking certain vitamins or supplements such as folic acid, vitamin B-12 or zinc.
If you are dealing with painful canker sores that you can’t seem to get under control then it’s time to turn to an ear, nose & throat specialist who can provide you with the answers you’re looking for.
Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders and yet it’s one that isn’t as often diagnosed since most people don’t even know that they have it. When someone has sleep apnea the airways collapse multiple times throughout the night. As a result, this causes interrupted breathing. Since not enough oxygen is getting to the brain you can imagine the many health issues this problem could cause if left untreated.
So, what are some telltale signs that you have sleep apnea?
One of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea is loud snoring. While not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, most sleep apnea sufferers are also frequent snorers. Along with snoring, your partner may also notice that you might gasp for air in the middle of the night or that your breathing is paused.
The sleep apnea sufferer will complain of extreme fatigue throughout the day. Even if you get enough sleep you may still find it difficult to get out of bed (or you may experience headaches in the morning). While most people feel tired at some point during the day, a true sleep apnea sufferer has intense exhaustion that doesn’t seem to let up.
Sleep apnea can make it more difficult for you to concentrate. You may find that you aren’t able to complete work as efficiently as you should. You may nod off at your desk or while driving home from work. Sleep apnea can be dangerous because it can increase your risk of injury.
How is sleep apnea treated?
It’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible to prevent health complications and other issues from happening. The most common treatment for sleep apnea is CPAP therapy. By placing this facemask over your nose and mouth as you sleep, it provides enough air pressure to keep the airways open and to prevent them from collapsing. This is the number one treatment option for obstructive sleep apnea.
Of course, sometimes an oral appliance device is all that you need if you only have minor or moderate sleep apnea. This device is custom-made to fit your mouth and can be used on its own or along with CPAP therapy to help you enjoy a better night’s sleep.
If you think you might have sleep apnea it’s important that you get this evaluated as soon as possible. Talk to our ENT doctor about how we can help you.
What is a Tonsillectomy?
Need a tonsillectomy? Tonsillectomies have been practiced for over 2,000 years. A tonsillectomy is a surgical operation to remove the palatine tonsils. Tonsils are two glands located at the rear of the throat. Ear, Nose, and Throat Doctors, also known as an otolaryngologists, are highly experienced in tonsillectomies. Here's everything you need to know about tonsillectomies.
Why it's Done
A tonsillectomy is used to treat chronic or recurring tonsilitis, complications of enlarged tonsils, and bleeding of the tonsils. A tonsillectomy is also a treatment for sleep-disordered breathing and other rare diseases of the tonsils. The need for tonsillectomies are more common in kids than adults. However, people of any age can experience trouble with their tonsils and require a tonsillectomy.
Tonsillectomy is an operation in which both tonsils are removed from a recess in the side of the pharynx called the tonsillar fossa. Once the patient is asleep, the surgery begins. An instrument is used to hold the patient's mouth open. The tonsils are then cut away with a laser, scalpel, or a heated instrument. Once the tonsils are removed and the bleeding is controlled, the surgery is over. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia, which is usually completed in 20 to 30 minutes.
A tonsillectomy is a common procedure. However, like with other operations, there are some risks with this procedure. These can include bleeding, infection, swelling, prolonged pain, or a reaction to anesthetics. Be sure to discuss your concerns with your physician before the procedure. Anyone who is contemplating surgery must weigh the potential risks against the benefits of the surgery.
Tonsillectomies are usually performed on an outpatient basis, which allows the patients to go home once they are awake from surgery. Recovery time for a tonsillectomy is usually at least 10 days to 2 weeks. You may experience some pain as as recover from a tonsillectomy. You might have a sore throat after the procedure. Pain relief medication can help you feel better during recovery. Many people are ready to go back to work or school within two weeks after a tonsillectomy.
An appointment for a checkup should be made two weeks after the procedure. The most important thing one can do after surgery to prevent dehydration is to drink plenty of fluids. Try to drink non-acidic drinks. Soft foods such as gelatin, puddings, and mashed foods are helpful to maintain adequate nutrition. Spicy, hot, and coarse foods should be avoided because they may scratch the throat and cause bleeding. Bed rest is important for several days after the procedure. Strenous activities should be avoided for two weeks after surgery.
You don't have to suffer anymore. If you think you may need a tonsillectomy, talk it over with a board certified ENT specialist. Find an ENT specialist in your area and schedule an appointment today. A tonsillectomy can ease your symptoms and help you get back to a happy and healthy life!
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.
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