Category Archives: General Health

Gearing Up for Fall Allergy Season

August 4th, 2018

fall-allergiesIt’s August, and the pollen of spring and blooms of summer are finally beginning to fade. So how come you’re still sneezing? Fall allergies can trigger just as many symptoms as spring and summer, unfortunately. Ragweed is the biggest culprit – it starts to release pollen with cool nights and warm days in August, but can last into September and October. About 75% of people allergic to spring plants also have reactions to ragweed.

Mold is another fall trigger. Mold spores love wet spots outside, such as piles of damp leaves. Or your fall issue may be dust mites. They can get stirred into the air the first time you turn on your heat in the fall and trigger sneezes, wheezes, and runny noses. Mold and dust mites are common in schools, so returning to the classroom can trigger allergies for some kids.

Our doctors can help find out what’s causing your watery, itchy eyes and runny nose. They’ll talk to you about your medical history and symptoms, and may recommend a skin test. To do this, the doctor will place a tiny amount of the allergen on your skin – usually on your back or forearm – and then prick or scratch the skin underneath. If you’re allergic to it, you’ll get a small, raised bump that itches like a mosquito bite. Sometimes a blood test may also be used to figure out a cause.

There are medications you can use to ease symptoms of allergies. Steroid nasal sprays can reduce inflammation in your nose. Antihistamines help stop sneezing, sniffling, and itching. Decongestants help relieve stuffiness and dry up the mucus in of your nose. Immunotherapy in the form of allergy shots or oral tablets or drops can also help you feel better. You can buy some allergy medications without a prescription, but talk to our doctors to make sure you get the right one.

To manage symptoms on your own try staying indoors with the doors and windows closed when pollen is at its peak (usually in the late morning or midday). Before you turn on your heat for the first time, clean your heating vents and change the filter. Bits of mold and other allergens can get trapped in the vents over the summer and will fill the air as soon as you start the furnace. Use a HEPA filter in your heating system to remove pollen, mold, and other particles from the air. Use a dehumidifier to keep your air at between 35% and 50% humidity, and consider wearing a mask when you rake leaves so you don’t breathe in mold spores.

Kids’ poor nutrition could lead to later-life hearing loss

June 4th, 2018

8acd5da8376aa8d9333b7e4d0e9ff76fBlue popsicles, fruit snacks and pepperoni pizza may be rites of childhood … but they may not be great for long-term hearing. Poor nutrition in childhood can lead to an increased risk for developing health conditions – including  hearing loss, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers found that young adults who suffered from poor nutrition in early childhood were twice as likely to suffer hearing loss than their better-fed peers.

Researchers looked at the relationship between nutrition and hearing of 2,200 young adults in Nepal. They found that those who were too short or too thin for their age were twice as likely to show signs of hearing loss. The link from nutrition to hearing could occur a couple of ways. In the case of stunted growth, researchers suspect poor nutrition impedes inner ear development beginning in the womb. Being underweight, on the other hand, raises the risk for developing chronic ear infections.

“Our findings should help elevate hearing loss as a still-neglected public health burden, and one that nutrition interventions in early childhood might help prevent,” Keith West Jr., principal investigator of the study said.

In the United States, poor nutrition early in life is often a result of food insecurity, or the inability of a family to afford enough food for all its members, said West. Just over 12 percent of American households were food insecure in 2016. Poor nutrition can also be a result of choice. Empty calories from added sugars and fats account for 40 percent of daily calories for children and adolescents age 2-18 years of age, according to Centers for Disease Control. Most youth in the U.S. do not meet daily fruit and vegetable recommendations or drink the recommended amount of water.

Modeling good health habits for your family can help your children and grandchildren develop healthy habits of their own and stave off hearing loss due to poor nutrition.  Eat a balanced diet, get the proper amount of exercise, protect your hearing from exposure to loud or excessive noise, and schedule regular checkups with one of our hearing professional.

For more on the research:
https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/107/2/268/4840587

Meet the Neti Pot — An Over-the-Counter Help for Sinus Infections

December 7th, 2017

neti_potYou can feel a sinus infection as soon as it hits … pressure, discomfort and misery. Even thinking about one might make your teeth ache. Treatments for sinus infections range from antibiotics to surgery. But now there is also a traditional remedy that’s getting more attention after recent research shows it to have promise … the neti pot.

The neti pot is a ceramic or plastic container that looks like Aladdin’s magic lamp. People use it to flush out their nasal cavities with a saline rinse (nasal irrigation). Recent research has shown it may work to reduce symptoms of sinus infections, and to relieve associated headaches. It also helped people use fewer over-the-counter medications. Doctors say nasal irrigation is worth trying if you suffer from persistent or recurring sinus infections … but be warned … it feels weird. The sensation of having water in your nose makes some people feel a bit claustrophobic until they master the technique.

How Do You Use a Neti Pot?

There aren’t any official medical guidelines, but Neti pots usually come with an insert that explains how to use them. You can also make an appointment with our doctors to talk you through the process before trying it on your own. Here are few tips:

  • Use distilled water for safety, rather than tap.
  • Add a saline solution (that comes pre-measured with your kit).
  • Bring the water to room temperature before using it, so it’s lukewarm to the touch.
  • Tip your head over a sink. The fluid should flow through your nasal cavity and out the opposite nostril.
  • There’s no need to fire hose your nose. It’s the volume of the fluid that’s cleaning out your sinuses, not the pressure.
  • When you start, hold your breath so you don’t shoot water into your airway.
  • Expect to make a mess. It’s a sign you are doing it right.
  • When you are done, gently blow your nose to get rid of any remaining liquid.
  • Clean your device after each use and allow it to air dry. Clean it regularly with soap and water to prevent bacterial growth, and replace it every few months.

For any patient seeking to reduce sinus infection symptoms, experts advise sticking with nasal irrigation for long enough to determine if it’s effective – even if it feels a little weird at first. If nasal rinses aren’t working, it will be important to speak with our specialists to determine if you have sinusitis, or perhaps another related issue instead.

The neti pot is generally safe to use. About 10% of regular users experience mild side effects, such as nasal irritation and stinging. Reducing the amount of salt in the solution, adjusting the frequency of Neti pot use, and changing the temperature of the water reduces side effects. Neti pots are available over-the-counter at many drug stores, health food stores, and online retailers. They usually cost between $10 and $20.

Stuttering in Children — What to Look For

October 18th, 2017

childspeaking

Kids sometimes trip over their words, especially when they are gaining early language skills. Sometimes children — especially when grammar and vocabulary skills develop faster than motor skills — go through a  temporary stage of “disfluency” that can last up to several months. But if stuttering is a more persistent problem it may require outside help to correct.

If stuttering lasts longer than three months and begins after age 3, it is likely a child will need therapy to correct it. Around 20% of children between ages 2 and 4 need help with stuttering (10% over the age of five).

There are four factors that can contribute to stuttering. The first is genetics. Half of people who stutter have family members who also stutter. Second, children with speech, language, or cognitive development delays are more likely to stutter. The third factor involves brain structure. People who stutter process speech and language in different areas of the brain than non-stutterers. Finally, fast-paced lifestyles and high expectations within a family can contribute to stuttering.

Most children who stutter start between 2 and 4 years old. However, it is not uncommon for stuttering to start later than age 4. One of the signs of early stuttering is repeating a sound or a single syllable (buh-buh-buh-baby). If you hear a part-word repetition, listen for how many times the sound or syllable is repeated. Keeping a record will help you form a better picture when you discuss the problem with a doctor or speech therapist.

Parents can help their child by staying positive. If your child shows signs of frustration or becomes hyper-aware of the stuttering, it’s fine to acknowledge that the child is struggling. But try not to say things like “Stop!” or “Slow down and think about what you’re going to say.” This often frustrates children and might even trigger more stuttering. Instead, simply repeat back what he is saying so that he knows he is being understood.

For many children, stuttering is not a big deal, especially in the early grades. For other children, though, stuttering may mean that they are less likely to raise their hand to answer a question. Children can also have difficulty forming friendships for fear of teasing. Teachers can use eye contact, give the child enough time to finish speaking, and stay focused on what the child is saying rather than how he is saying it.

There is no known “cure” for stuttering, but there is a lot of success for children who come to therapy while they are still young. Help from a therapist can help a child feel more confident and willing to share her ideas — whenever and wherever she wants to share them.

Reference: http://www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/article/more-speaking-language/if-your-child-stutters

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.