Category Archives: General Health

How to Tackle (achoo) Spring Allergies

March 28th, 2017

children-allergies-ftrSeasonal allergies are no fun. Whether you’ve dealt with them since elementary school, or are just now discovering the sneezing, sniffling, congestion and itchy eyes for the first time as an adult, welcome to the club — every spring, 36 million in the U.S. grab a box of tissues and brace for the next six to ten weeks of air-borne misery. There are plenty of ideas out there on how to treat allergies … some of it more useful than others. See if you can spot the fact from fiction below:

Does living in a desert cure allergies?
Nope.
Don’t park your trailer in the west desert just yet. Grass and ragweed pollens are found nearly everywhere. A new environment might ease your symptoms temporarily, but the relief could be short-lived. New allergens are probably lurking, ready to trigger a reaction.

Does eating local honey cure allergies?
Unfortunately, No.
Some people try and use honey as a natural remedy for allergies. But most reactions aren’t triggered by the type of pollen found in honey. Even a Pooh-Bear sized jar of it won’t build your immunity. Enjoy it with butter on toast, but know that even local varieties probably won’t ease your symptoms.

Will I outgrow my seasonal allergies?
Sorry Kid.
Most won’t, especially if they have hay fever (allergic rhinitis). A study in Sweden tracked 82 people with hay fever and found that 99% still had it 12 years later. But 39% did say they had some improvement.

Can the pollen count predict bad allergy days?
Actually, Yes.
Pollen counts measure how much of the fine yellow dust is in the air over a period of time. A high count means you’re more likely to have symptoms when you go outside. You can use it to decide whether to play outdoors, or instead catch up on Netflix for the day.

Does rain clear the air of pollen?
Yes, Depending …
Temperature, time of day, humidity, and rain can affect levels of pollen. If you have allergies to pollen, the best time to go outside is right after a good storm. Pollen counts run lowest on chilly, soggy days. But mold spores, on the other hand,  show up in damp weather. You’re most likely to have an allergic reaction to mold on wet summer days.

Can allergy shots help?
We know this one for a fact.
They aren’t a cure, but if you have bad allergies, they might help. Regular injections greatly reduce some people’s reactions to certain allergens. (There are also under-the-tongue meds that work the same way.) Allergy shots help your body get used to the things that trigger an allergic reaction. In time, your symptoms will get better and you may not have symptoms as often.

You may want to consider allergy shots — called “immunotherapy” — if you have symptoms more than 3 months a year and medicines don’t give you enough relief. At first, you’ll go to your doctor once or twice a week for several months. You’ll get the shot in your upper arm. It’ll contain a tiny amount of the allergen — pollen, mold, dander, or bee venom, for example. The dose will go up gradually until you get to what’s called a maintenance dose. After that you’ll probably get a shot every 2-4 weeks for several months. Then your doctor will gradually increase the time between shots. During that time, your allergy symptoms will get better and may even go away.

If you want to know if immunotherapy might be right for you, make an appointment to talk to one of our friendly doctors. We’ll keep the box of kleenex handy.

References:

http://www.webmd.com/allergies/guide/allergy-shots#1
http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/discomfort-15/tame-allergies/slideshow-allergy-myths-facts

Trickier Than you Think: Drinking More Water for a better ENT Health

January 18th, 2017

times-to-drink-waterSince middle-school health class, you’ve been told to drink eight glasses of water per day for better wellness. But many people find this hard to swallow — literally. Now, a new study may tell us why. Researchers have identified a brain mechanism that stops us from swallowing too much liquid when we are not thirsty.

Being hydrated is important. To work correctly all the cells and organs in your body need water. It lubricates the inside of your mouth and throat, cushions joints, protects the spinal cord, regulates body temperature, and helps food through intestines. Water also dissolves minerals and nutrients so that they are more accessible to the body, and transports waste out the back door. In fact, 60-70 percent of our body is made up of water.

Water leaves your body through activities like sweating, urination, and even breathing. Drinking plain old water is the best source of fluid, because it doesn’t contain calories, caffeine, or alcohol, but you can also gain water through foods and other drinks. The recommended amount of water to be consumed per day varies from person to person, depending on their size, how active they are, and how much they sweat. The idea of drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, (which works out at around 1.9 liters) is an easy-to-remember amount that puts people on the right track. But is it right for you?

A new study that suggests we should drink only when we are thirsty, because swallowing when we aren’t thirsty is physically challenging. Researchers at the Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash University in Australia published their finding in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They discovered a mechanism in the brain that makes swallowing excess water difficult.

The team enrolled a number of participants and asked them to drink large amounts of water immediately after exercise when they were thirsty, and later on in the day when they were not thirsty. They asked the participants to rate how difficult it was to swallow. Compared with water consumption just after exercise, participants found it three times more difficult to drink water when they were not thirsty. They were having to overcome some sort of resistance, according to the research.

The team measured brain activity just before each episode of drinking. They discovered that certain areas of the right prefrontal cortex of the brain showed significantly higher activity when participants had to make an effort to swallow the water, suggesting that this brain region “overrides” the swallowing inhibition to allow excess water consumption. The brain likely works this way because drinking too much water can cause as much or more harm to your body as not drinking enough.

When it comes to water intake, we may do best by listening to our body’s needs. To get it right, just drink according to thirst rather than an elaborate schedule, researchers recommend. Still, the team points out that water intake remains essential to human health, and there are certain groups — such as elderly individuals — who tend not to consume enough water and should make an effort to drink more.

Original Reference:
http://newswise.com/articles/study-challenges-idea-of-mandatory-water-intake

Not ‘Hoarsing’ Around

January 18th, 2016

Have you ever suddenly lost your voice as you were energetically cheering for the home team or during a sporting event? Does your voice head south when cold, flu and allergy seasons blow into town?  Hoarseness can be bothersome and can cause us to sing bass when we really are a tenor.  Hoarseness is highly treatable and the doctors at South Valley Ear Nose & Throat are the people you want to see when hoarseness takes up residence in your throat.

Hoarseness is defined as an abnormal change of the voice.  A hoarse voice sounds breathy, raspy, strained or higher or lower in pitch.  The voice-producing parts, called the vocal folds and larynx, become inflamed, injured or develop polyps and lesions.

Causes of hoarseness can include allergies, extended speaking, singing and a cold or upper respiratory viral infection (sometimes called acute laryngitis).  It is important to take care of your voice during this time of inflammation.  Continued use of the voice during acute laryngitis can result in more serious injury to the vocal cords.

Sudden voice loss after prolonged yelling may be caused by a vocal cord hemorrhage.  This is a more serious condition and it occurs when a blood vessel in the vocal cords breaks and blood from the break enters the surrounding tissue.  You should head to the office of South Valley Ear Nose & Throat if you experience this type of voice loss.  The doctor will provide a treatment plan that will help restore your voice.

Other times to visit with our doctors at South Valley Ear Nose & Throat can include:

  • A person who smokes and becomes hoarse should visit with their doctor
  • Hoarseness that occurs without having a cold or the flu
  • If you have difficulty swallowing or feel a lump in your neck
  • If you are coughing up blood
  • If you are a vocalist and are unable to perform
  • If you have difficulty breathing or have pain when speaking or swallowing

Hoarseness is treated in a variety of ways.  The doctor will gather a history of the patient’s voice concerns and perform a complete ear, nose and throat exam.  The doctor may use a laryngoscope to look down the throat at the vocal folds. Some treatment plans may include partial or complete vocal rest or speech therapy. If polyps or lesions are causing hoarseness, surgery may be recommended to correct those problems.

Avoiding hoarseness is something we can all do.  Some suggestions include:

  • Quit smoking
  • Avoid caffeine or alcohol which cause dehydration
  • Use a microphone or other device when speaking
  • Drink water and use a humidifier in your home
  • When hoarse, avoid speaking or singing
  • Steer clear of secondhand smoke

What to do with Chronic Sore Throats

November 7th, 2015

boy with flu
A sore throat is painful, takes days go away and can be expensive because of lost work, medication purchases and doctor visits. Repeat sore throats are even more of a nuisance.  If you are experiencing chronic sore throats (more than five or six times a year), you may want to have your tonsils checked for more serious infection.

A common source of infection in the tonsils is from a bacteria called streptococcus commonly referred to as strep throat.  Strep comes on quickly and gives symptoms like painful swallowing, a high fever, body aches and white or yellow spots on the back of a red throat.

The streptococcus bacteria can only be confirmed with a test done in the office with a swab test. A culture of the back of the throat is taken and brought to a lab.

“Taking a test is really the best way to positively identify strep throat,” said Dr. Anderson. “There is a lot we can to do help people feel better with a correct diagnosis.”

If a patient has a positive result for streptococcus, doctors will usually prescribe a regimen of antibiotics.

Most times antibiotics clear up the strep bacteria making the patients feel a lot better.  However, if the throat pain returns after the prescribed doses of antibiotics, it might be time to take a closer look at the chronic problem.

Another solution to recurring strep throat is to have the tonsils surgically removed. Tonsillectomies are performed under general anesthesia so patients don’t feel any pain during the procedure.  Recovery time after the surgery can last up to two weeks while the throat heals. With the tonsils gone, the risk of recurrent tonsil infections is cut down significantly.

If you suffer from chronic sore throats, come see us at South Valley Ear, Nose & Throat.

Physicians Featured on Fox 13

April 9th, 2015

Fox 13 recently highlighted South Valley Ear Nose & Throat physicians and clinic services during their Healthfix segment.  Doctors Gilbert, Peterson and Anderson went to the Utah studio and were interviewed by broadcasters about a variety of common ear, nose and throat issues.

“There are many people who suffer needlessly with throat and sinus pain or have varying hearing loss,” said Dr. Gilbert. “It’s important to let them know there are great resources to help alleviate their frustration.”

Dr. Peterson, an expert in hearing devices, was interviewed about the clinic’s cochlear implant services.

“Hearing aid technology has come a long way in the last few years,” said Dr. Peterson. “Devices such as the cochlear implant are getting both smaller and more clear for the hearing impaired.”

“It was great to be invited by Fox News to talk about ear, nose and throat solutions.” said Dr. Anderson. “It’s important to tell as many people as possible how they can reduce their throat and sinus pain or help hearing loss.”

South Valley Ear Nose & Throat physicians and staff are located in West Jordan, Saratoga Springs, and now at the new South Bangerter Health Center in Riverton.

Stay Healthy During the Long Winter Months

December 15th, 2014

hands_wash

Snow is ready to fly once again in Utah and that means many of us will spend more time indoors.  Unfortunately, being inside close to others can increase chances of catching a virus or bacterial infection.

Colds happen after we come in contact with contaminated surfaces, such as a computer keyboard or mouse, utensil, doorknob and then touch our eyes or mouth. We can also become infected by breathing in an air-borne microbe.

What are some precautions you can take this year?  The physicians at South Valley Ear Nose & Throat offer some practical advice on how to stay more healthy during the chilly winter months.

Dr. Meads
Wash hands frequently.  Using plenty of soap and warm water is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of virus or bacteria entering your body by way of the nose or mouth.

Dr. Peterson
Wipe down the surfaces you and your family use frequently.  One of my favorite products are Clorox Wipes.  I try to wipe down doorknobs, sink handles, toilet areas, telephones and game consoles.

Dr. Gilbert
Many people do not realize how many germs hide within toothbrushes.  I recommend periodically changing your toothbrush especially after a cold or flu.  You can even clean a toothbrush using a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water.

Dr. Anderson
One of the easiest things to keep healthy is drinking plenty of water.  When your body stays hydrated, all your systems are well lubricated and can properly do their job–especially your immune system.