Category Archives: News

Eczema can Occur Anywhere – Even in Your Ears

October 20th, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-10-26 at 11.40.47 AMEczema is no walk in park. It’s an annoying and sometimes painful condition tied to the immune system. It causes inflamed, itchy, cracked, and rough patches of skin all over the body. Eczema affects almost one third of people on the United States – some will outgrow it, but others struggle with outbreaks their entire life.

To add insult to injury, eczema happens in places you might not expect … in the ears, for instance. Ear eczema can be an extremely irritating and at times painful condition. It can range from slight dryness of the outer ear to extensive skin loss and soreness, as well as infection of the external and internal parts of the ear. It can affect the entire ear, including the lobes, the ear opening, canal and the eardrum itself. It is important to focus on prevention and control as if left untreated, eczema or infection can spread outwards to the surrounding skin.

Eczema may appear as a result of exposure to something that causes an allergic reaction. Everyday items can cause outbreaks inside the ears – soaps, gels, earrings, hearing aids, earbuds or even wearing glasses. Objects you might try to use to clean or scratch the ear can also be problematic. Ear piercing does not cause eczema, but can lead to problems when you wear certain types of earrings or studs. If you have a nickel allergy, wear only hypoallergenic jewelry.

It’s always best to consult the doctor if you think you may have eczema in the ears. A professional can give you effective treatment and help to prevent flare‐ups. Treatment of ear eczema will depend on the cause and type, but there are things that you can do at home to prevent outbreak and spread. You can gently wash the inside of your outer ear with water or an emollient wash. You can also use a damp cotton tip very gently in the bowl area of your ear, but do not insert it into the ear canal.  Never try to wash further into the ears – you may damage the skin of the ear canal. After washing, dry your ears thoroughly – using a warm (not hot) hair dryer. Avoid scratching the inside of your ears, especially with a foreign object – not only can these damage your ear canal skin or drum, but they can also set up an allergic reaction. The use of ear candles is not advised.

If you go swimming, use ear plugs. You can get custom‐made ear molds to fit your ears. Apply an emollient cream/ointment to treat dry skin around the  ears and in the entrance to the ear canals, and refined petroleum oil or sunflower oil for loosening ear wax (but consult first with a healthcare professional first). Using water is not recommended, nor are wax loosening products as they may encourage the buildup of debris and cause more inflammation and irritation.

Ear eczema can be an extremely irritating condition. Since it is difficult to see in the ears without special equipment, it is often hard to know what is going on in there, particularly in the case of young children. If ears become uncomfortable, don’t ignore it – it is always best to see your health care professional and get to the bottom of the itch.

Care for Your Ears During Summer Swimming

July 4th, 2018

swimmers-earThere is nothing like dunking yourself in cool water to avoid blistering summer heat. If you avoid swimming for fear of swimmer’s ear, a popsicle can only do so much to keep you cool. There are steps you can take while enjoying a summer swim to help your ears stay healthy while you stay cool and comfortable in the water.

First, pick your pool carefully. Avoid swimming in bodies of water that may be contaminated with bacteria. Check for regular cleaning and disinfecting schedules if using a public pool. Research pollution level warnings before planning a swim in local rivers, lakes or ponds.

They may not look cool, but wearing a swimming cap helps protect your ears from getting wet while you are swimming. It is important to put the swimming cap on properly with the ears completely covered. To put it on, stretch the swimming cap open. Lean forward and slide the cap on, slowly moving your hands downward as the cap slides onto your head. Once the swimming cap reaches your ears, remove your hands completely and tug the cap down until snug.

Or, wear ear plugs as an alternative to a swimming cap to prevent water from entering the outer ear canal. Ear plugs come in both disposable and reusable versions; people who do not have latex allergies should consider using reusable latex plugs. Just be sure not to push the plugs too deep into your ear.

When you are done swimming, dry your ears thoroughly. Tilt your head and pull your earlobes in different directions to help drain the water. Use a clean, soft towel to pat your outer ear, and tilt your head to the side to allow any water that has gotten into the inner ear to drain out. Or, use a blow dryer on its lowest setting. Hold it a foot out away from each ear for about 30 seconds. It is possible to buy over-the-counter eardrops to help dry up any leftover water. But don’t put eardrops in your ear if you have had any ear pain, ear surgery, or have a tear in your eardrum.

If you have pain or discomfort inside your ear or a pussy oozing from your ear after swimming, make an appointment so that we can help you get back on the pool floatie faster!

Avoiding the Eight Most Common Food Allergy Triggers

May 6th, 2018

food_allergies1Food allergies are caused by your immune system. Your body misidentifies a harmless food as something that could make you sick and tries to protect you. When you eat something you’re allergic to, your immune system responds. You might get a mild skin rash or itchy eyes, or you could have a bigger reaction that leaves you gasping for breath. Food allergies can be serious, but you can take steps to manage them. One of the best things you can do is avoid your trigger foods.

Eight foods cause about 90% of food allergy reactions:

  • Milk (mostly in children)
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts, like walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, brazil nuts, and pecans
  • Soy
  • Wheat and other grains with gluten, including barley, rye, and oats
  • Fish (mostly in adults)
  • Shellfish (mostly in adults)

Less common foods that may trigger allergies include:

  • Corn
  • Gelatin
  • Meat — beef, chicken, mutton, and pork
  • Seeds, often sesame, sunflower, and poppy
  • Spices, such as caraway, coriander, garlic, and mustard

An allergic reaction can happen within minutes of eating, or it may happen hours later.

Mild symptoms can be hard to tie to specific foods. You could get red, swollen, dry, or itchy skin rash, including hives or eczema. Or, you may experience a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, or a slight, dry cough. Other symptoms can include itchy, watery, red eyes, itchy mouth or inside your ears, a funny taste in your mouth, or upset stomach, cramps, throwing up, or diarrhea.

Peanuts, nuts, fish, and shellfish more often cause severe reactions, although any food can. Symptoms include trouble breathing or swallowing, swollen lips, tongue, or throat, feeling weak, confused, or light-headed, or passing out, or experiencing chest pain or a weak, uneven heartbeat.

Because young children may not know how to describe what’s happening, they might say something like, “My mouth is tingling,” “My tongue feels heavy,” or “I’ve got a frog in my throat.” A hoarse or squeaky voice or slurring words are also signs of an allergic reaction in kids.

Sometimes symptoms affect your whole body and are so serious that they’re life-threatening. This kind of reaction is called anaphylaxis, and it’s a medical emergency. It usually happens a few minutes after you’ve eaten. If you have asthma as well as a food allergy, you’re more likely to have anaphylaxis. When you have a severe food allergy, you should carry injectable epinephrine (adrenaline). It can ease symptoms until you can get medical attention. Do not hesitate to use the epinephrine auto-injector ever if you are unsure your symptoms are caused by an allergy. The epinephrine could save your life.

For highly allergic people, even tiny amounts of a food (for example, 1/44,000 of a peanut kernel) can set off a reaction. Less sensitive people may be able to eat small amounts of their trigger food.

Teaching Your Child to Swallow Medicines

April 6th, 2018

ask-dr-mom-taking-medicine-childrens-healthSometimes, even a spoonful of sugar won’t quite do the trick. Medicines in pill form can be hard for some kids to get down. When your child needs to take medication, they may struggle to swallow pills until they learn to master the skill.

And it is a skill … some people learn to swallow pills quickly and easily, and for others, it takes practice. For kids, swallowing the pill can be as scary as the sickness itself, and it is important to support them both physically and emotionally. Give them plenty of time so they don’t feel pressured. Ignore negative behavior, and heap praise on the positive. Have your child take a deep breath and let it out slowly as you begin practice.

Experts suggest starting with candy. Begin with a tiny piece. After helping your child swallow it two times, move on to a bigger one. If after two tries they can’t succeed swallowing the bigger piece, go back to a smaller size for more practice. Here are some candies to practice with, from smallest to largest:

  • Sprinkles (the kind that are put on cupcakes)
  • Nerds
  • Mini M&M’s (smaller than the regular size)
  • Tic Tacs
  • Regular size M&M’s or Skittles
  • Jelly Belly brand jelly beans (smaller than other brands)
  • Good & Plenty

Try using water that is room-temperature or slightly warm. Encourage your child to take a sip of water before and after swallowing to help the pill go down. Don’t try the same method repeatedly – try different ways of swallowing to see what works best. Most people put the pill on the back of their tongue and drink water until the pill goes down their throat. Some people like to put water in their mouth and then put the pills in with the water, then swallow the water and pill together. Other people have success putting the pill in their mouth, and then drinking water through a straw.

Some kids are afraid they might choke on a pill. Have them open their mouth in front of a mirror and say “ahhhh,” like you do at the doctor’s. Have them notice how big their throat is, and point out how easily pills will fit.

Have your child tilt their head back slightly when they swallow so it’s easier to get to get the pill down – but don’t do this for capsules – they float. Instead, have them tilt their head down a little so that the capsule floats to the back of their mouth. Or try having them look straight ahead while swallowing. Everyone has a method that works for them.

If the problem is more about smell and taste of the pill, slip it into a spoonful of ice-cream, applesauce, or other soft food – but do not crush or break pills because they won’t work as effectively.

Practice for 10 to 20 minutes per day. End with a “success” – make sure they swallow the last pill of the practice session, even if you need to go back to a smaller size. If your child is still having trouble, work with a psychologist or therapist to help them manage their anxiety. Hypnotherapy or using a pill swallowing cup are other options that may help. If they have trouble swallowing other things (not just pills), talk to your doctor. They may have a condition that makes it difficult to swallow.

Avoiding Food Triggers for Tinnitus

March 6th, 2018

tinnitusAround 50 million Americans get that annoying ringing, roaring, whistling, hissing, clanging or shrieking sound in their ears. Tinnitus often occurs because the tiny hair cells in the inner ear are damaged, producing constant stimulation of aural nerves. There are many factors that contribute to this condition, including exposure to loud noise, aging, medications, hearing loss, allergies and stress. Several food or food additives can also trigger or exacerbate ringing in the ear.

Aspartame
If you have tinnitus, you may want to think about kicking that diet soda habit for good. Some researchers suspect aspartame might have a connection to tinnitus. Though a definitive link between the two has yet to be proven, the reason aspartame is considered suspect is that some components of it may be toxic to the brain and the inner ear – two organs that are particularly sensitive to neurotoxins. Specifically, phenylalanine, aspartic acid and methanol become toxic after periods of long storage or exposure to heat.

Salt
Many people with tinnitus report worse symptoms after eating salty food, according to the American Tinnitus Association. Salt restricts blood vessels, increasing blood pressure within the major arteries while reducing blood flow into the eyes, ears and brain. Snack foods, fast foods and processed foods tend to contain large amounts of salt.

Salicylates
Salicylates are naturally occurring chemicals that protect plants against bacteria, pests and disease. People with salicylate sensitivity can have adverse reactions to the accumulation of salicylates in their body. People with tinnitus can experience a worsening of their symptoms when exposed to salicylates, according to the Journal of Neurosciences. Foods that contain salicylates include fruits such as dried fruit, blackberries, blueberries, boysenberry, oranges, pineapples, raisins, raspberries, strawberries and tangerines. Vegetables with salicylates include peppers, tomatoes, and canned green olives. Other foods with salicylates include almonds, peanuts with skins on, coconut oil, olive oil, processed lunch meats, corn syrup, honey, jams and peppermint.

Beverages
For various reasons, several beverages can trigger or worsen tinnitus symptoms. Red wine, grain-based spirits such as rum and beer, cider, sherry and brandy all contain high to very high levels of salicylates. Beverages that contain caffeine such as coffee, tea, hot chocolate and energy drinks also exacerbate tinnitus, according to American Tinnitus Association. Caffeine may exacerbate tinnitus in some people by increasing blood pressure and stimulating nerve cell activity.

Sugar
A significant portion of people with tinnitus have a sugar metabolism problem called hyperinsulinemia, according to the National Institutes of Health. Hyperinsulinemia occurs when the body develops an insensitivity to insulin and therefore fails to break sugar down and deliver it to cells. This resulting excess of glucose in the blood stream causes the pancreas to release more insulin. People with tinnitus who maintain a diabetic diet may experience an improvement in their tinnitus symptoms.

Fats
Although fats do not necessarily cause an immediate exacerbation of tinnitus symptoms, foods with saturated and trans fats contribute to poor circulation and reduce blood flow. A diet high in these unhealthy fats increases bad cholesterol and decreases good cholesterol, affecting long-term heart health and potentially heightening the severity of ringing in the ears. Foods high in trans and saturated fats include fried foods, whole milk, butter, shortening, ice cream, fatty meats like pork and beef, chicken skin and fat, snack foods and candy.

Possible Signs Your Thyroid isn’t Working Correctly

February 4th, 2018

GTY_thyroid_tk_130829_16x9_992It may be a small part of your anatomy … but your thyroid (the butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your throat) is one of the most powerful parts of your body. It produces hormones that regulate everything from your appetite and energy levels to your body’s internal thermostat. It influences, in fact, almost all of the metabolic processes in your body. So when things go wrong, you notice. Although the effects of a misbehaving thyroid can be unpleasant or uncomfortable, most thyroid problems can be managed well if properly diagnosed and treated.

At least 30 million Americans have a thyroid disorder. Women are as much as 10 times as likely as men to have a problem. If you’re a woman over 35, your odds of a thyroid disorder are high – more than 30%, by some estimates. What causes your thyroid to go haywire? It could be genetics, an autoimmune attack, pregnancy, stress, nutritional deficiencies, or toxins in the environment – experts aren’t entirely sure. Because thyroid hormones reach everywhere in the body, diagnosing a disorder can be a challenge. Here’s some possible signs that your thyroid might have issues:

You’re Beat
Feeling tired and lacking energy could be symptoms of many issues, but they’re also linked with hypothyroidism, a disorder that’s the result of too little thyroid hormone. If you’re tired after a full night’s sleep, that may be a clue that your thyroid is underactive. A lack of hormone in your bloodstream and cells means your muscles aren’t getting the signal to perform.
You’re in the Dumps
Feeling unusually depressed or sad can also be a symptom of hypothyroidism. It’s thought that the production of too little thyroid hormone can have an impact on levels of serotonin in the brain. With an underactive thyroid turning other body systems down, your mood might sink too.

You Feel Anxious
Anxiety and feeling “wired” are associated with hyperthyroidism, when the thyroid gland is making too much hormone. When your body is flooded with messages to be on high alert, your metabolism and whole body may be working overtime.

Your Appetite Changes
An increased appetite can be a sign of hyperthyroidism leaving you feeling hungry all of the time. The only upside is that the “hyper” part of the disorder typically offsets the caloric impact of an increased appetite so the end result sometimes isn’t weight gain. An underactive thyroid, on the other hand, can mess with your sense of taste and smell.

It’s Hard to Focus
This is another one that could be caused by lack of sleep or aging, but cognitive function can suffer when your thyroid is out of sync. Too much thyroid hormone can make it difficult to concentrate, and too little can trigger forgetfulness and brain fog.

Your Libido Changes
Too little thyroid hormone could be a contributor to a low libido, but the impact of other hypothyroidism symptoms – weight gain, low energy, and body aches and pains – could also play a part.

You’re Heart is all a Flutter
That feeling could be heart palpitations. It can feel like your heartbeat is irregular or beating too hard and quickly. You may notice these feelings in your chest or at pulse points in your throat or neck. Heart flutters or palpitations can be a sign of too many thyroid hormones flooding your system.

You Use Lotion in Bulk
Skin that’s dry and itchy can be a symptom of a thyroid disorder. The change in skin texture and appearance may be due to slowed metabolism (linked to too little thyroid hormone production), which can reduce sweating. Skin without enough moisture can quickly become dry and flaky and nails can become brittle and may develop ridges.

Your Bathroom Schedule is Off
People with hypothyroidism sometimes complain of constipation. The disruption in hormone production can cause a slowdown of digestive processes. On the reverse side of the spectrum, an overactive thyroid gland can cause diarrhea or more frequent bowel movements.

Your Periods have Changed
Longer menstrual periods with a heavier flow and more cramps can be a sign of hypothyroidism. Periods may also be closer together. With hyperthyroidism, high levels of hormone cause menstrual irregularities in a different way. Periods are shorter, farther apart and may be very light.

You have Painful Extremities or Muscles
If you have mysterious and sudden tingling or numbness – or actual pain – in your arms, legs, feet, or hands, that could be a sign of hypothyroidism. Over time, producing too little thyroid hormone can damage the nerves that send signals from your brain and spinal cord throughout your body.

You have High Blood Pressure
Elevated blood pressure can be a symptom of a thyroid disorder. By some estimates, people with hypothyroidism have two to three times the risk of developing hypertension. One theory is that low amounts of thyroid hormone can slow heart beat, which can affect pumping strength and blood vessel wall flexibility.

You Sweat or Wear a Sweater
Feeling cold or having chills is associated with hypothyroidism. The system slow-down caused by an underactive thyroid means less energy is being burned by cells. Less energy equals less heat. On the other hand, an overactive thyroid puts energy-producing cells into overdrive. That’s why people with hyperthyroidism sometimes feel too warm or sweat profusely.

Your Neck Feels Strange
A change in your voice or a lump in your throat could be a sign of a thyroid disorder. One way to check is to take a good look at your neck to see if you can detect any signs of thyroid swelling. You can do a physical check of your own thyroid at home. Using a hand mirror, watch your throat as you swallow a drink of water. Look for any bulges or protrusions in the thyroid area, which is below your Adam’s apple but above your collarbones. If you see anything that’s lumpy or suspicious, see your doctor.

Your Sleep Schedule is a Mess
Want to sleep all of the time? It could be hypothyroidism. A sluggish thyroid can slow bodily functions down to the point where sleeping (even in the daytime) seems like a brilliant idea. Can’t sleep? It could be hyperthyroidism. An overactive thyroid can cause anxiety and rapid pulse, which can make it hard to fall asleep or even wake you in the middle of the night.

You’ve Gained Weight
Going up a few dress sizes can be caused by so many things that it’s unlikely your doctor will look at weight gain alone as a potential thyroid disorder symptom. However, weight gain is one of the top reasons women see their doctor for a thyroid check. On the other end of the scale, a sudden weight loss can signal hyperthyroidism.

Your Hair is Thinning
Dry, brittle hair that breaks or falls out can be a sign of hypothyroidism. Too little thyroid hormone disrupts your hair growth cycle and puts too many follicles into “resting” mode, resulting in hair loss—sometimes all over your body including at the outside of your eyebrows. An overactive thyroid can also do a number on your hair. Hair issues due to hyperthyroidism typically show up as thinning hair just on your head.

Now What?
If you’ve read through this list and have concerns, get your thyroid tested. Make an appointment with one of our knowledgeable physicians to address your concerns. Based on your symptoms, test results, and a physical exam, you may be prescribed synthetic hormones. Testing and treating a thyroid disorder takes a bit of trial-and-error so expect to visit the doctor a few times before the dosage is right.

Singing Leads to Better Hearing

January 5th, 2018

Singing-3-singing-35633120-500-334Go ahead and belt that show tune in the shower — it’s for your health! It’s long been known that singing can reduce stress and increase mental alertness, but your melodies may also improve the way you hear and understand conversations in noisy places, according to recent research.

Deciphering speech in noisy situations can be hard for older adults. Hearing aids can only help so much, because separating speech from noise doesn’t happen in our ears as much as it does in our brains. As people age, something declines along the pathway between the inner ear and the brain’s auditory cortex. Although hearing aids are becoming increasingly better at suppressing extra noise, they can’t completely correct the problem of aging auditory systems.

But some people have less of a problem as they age. Older musicians do better than non-musicians at distinguishing speech from noise, even when their overall hearing is the same — and researchers wanted to know why. So some scientists invited older adults to join a choir (no musical experience or talent required), and tested whether the musical training changed how their brains processed speech in noisy environments. Each session lasts ten weeks, with one two-hour rehearsal each week.

“Singing is sort of like brain boot camp. You’re sort of whipping your neurons into shape,” said Ella Dubinsky, a graduate student in the lab where the choir experiment was conducted. “We wanted to see how short-term could we make the musical training. How quickly can we see these improvements?” she said.

In addition to the choir participants, the researchers followed two other control groups for comparison. One simply listened to music, and the other had no musical intervention. The result? The choir group’s hearing improved after singing training. The other two groups showed no improvement.

But don’t move to Broadway and addition for Hamilton yet. Besides singing, there are other ways that you can improve your hearing at any age.

Practice Focusing on and Locating Sounds.

Hearing exercises can help you hone in on where sounds are coming from and who or what is making the sounds. Create a noisy (but comfortable) environment. Have someone move around the room while reading sentences from a book or newspaper. Close your eyes, repeat the sentence back to them, and try to locate from where he or she is reading the sentence.

Practice recognizing various types of sound.

Close your eyes and listen to all the different sounds in your environment. One by one, try to decipher individual sounds that you hear, both near and far away. The more you practice, the more sounds you will learn to recognize.

Consider downloading software apps designed to improve hearing.

Examples include AB CLIX (based on identifying differences between words), Forbrain (based on recognizing pertinent sounds in voices), and Category Carousel (based on associating sounds with images).

Exercise

Besides giving you strength, balance, and flexibility, did you know exercises like yoga, walking, and stretching can help with your hearing? Exercise increases circulation in your ear and brain, and good circulation is important for healthy nerve function. If your doctor agrees you’re healthy enough, chances are good that exercise will help you feel better as well as hear better, too.

Meet Dr. Amir Allak: South Valley ENT’s expert in cosmetic and functional facial surgery

October 28th, 2017

doctor-allakDr. Amir Allak is a doctor who believes in the whole person. His passion for science and talent for connecting with people led him to his career path … and have allowed him to be the kind of person who understands and connects with patients on a deeper level.

How did you first become interested in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery?

Dr. Allak: I’ve always loved both science and people, and medicine was the best crossroads between those two things. Some are drawn to the practice of surgery because it is so focused on a single objective, but the reason I love practicing ENT is because I get the opportunity to see who a person is … even during surgery. By looking at a person’s face, I never forget who they are. It is easy for some to reduce a patient to a statistic. I prefer to know more about them … maybe they are a mom, a teacher, someone who likes to sing, someone who reads mysteries. It’s much more personal, and something I really value.

Dr. Allak brings a strong background in both his education and practice. He attended medical school at the historic University of Virginia and went on to train extensively with a world-renowned expert in Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Dr. Jonathan Sykes at the University of California, Davis. Through these experiences, Dr. Allak not only refined exceptional technical skill, but honed a strong person-centered philosophy about the practice of medicine. In addition to being board certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology and treating general ENT disorders, Dr. Allak brings to the group a specialty expertise in cosmetic and functional facial plastic and reconstructive surgery.

What are your strengths as a surgeon?

Dr. Allak: There is a certain amount of technical ability that every good surgeon simply has to develop. Once you have those skills down, some may think that is enough. But there is more … interactions with patients are the discriminating factor between an enriching experience, and a mediocre one. My ability to explain procedures, allay fears, educate, break down stigmas, are what sets me apart. The basic technical ability is something you can expect from every good surgeon, but the interpersonal aspect is the real test … and enhances every other part of the experience for the patient and me alike.

When it comes to his medical approach, Dr. Allak believes that solid communication between doctor and patient is the key. He says that giving patients time to communicate, understanding expectations, and then really listening to what they have to say, makes him a better doctor.

How do you empower people to make decisions that are right for them?

Dr. Allak:  Ultimately, the decision to have elective cosmetic surgery or procedures is a very personal choice. The way I see it, people work hard for their money, and it is up to him or her to decide how to use those resources to bring happiness to their life without judgment for deciding how best to navigate that path.

As far as empowering patients, it is really less about what I do, and more about what I can understand from each person that makes for a better experience. It’s about listening … absorbing and learning from each interaction. I want to understand what your goals and expectations are and tailor my approach to meet your needs. Every person is unique … in what they want, in how they think. No two surgeries are the same because no two people are the same. I work to match my skills to what each person desires out of the experience. This allows me to apply my skillset to enhance the overall service to the next level.

 

With his education, skills and experience, Dr. Allak could have gone almost anywhere … but he chose South Valley ENT for his practice. It’s a good fit, he says, and he already feels at home here.

  1. Why did you choose South Valley ENT?

Dr. Allak: The doctors at here share a philosophy that I believe in … that people come first. There is a positive energy in this practice – you can see it on the faces of people as they leave their appointments. There is a level of trust, expertise, and caring. I know that each of the doctors here actually cares about their patients, and each one goes about their craft with that sort of empathy and nurturing attitude. It makes for a seamless interaction when we collaborate knowing that we all hold these principles as top priorities.

Dr. Allak brings to South Valley ENT a special expertise in cosmetic and functional surgery of the face. This includes cosmetic rhinoplasty, functional nasal surgery (for nasal breathing), eyelid rejuvenation, aging face surgery (facelift, necklift, browlift, etc.), reconstruction after Mohs skin cancer surgery, facial trauma surgery, as well as non-surgical facial rejuvenation (botox, fillers, etc.) and others.

What’s Making My Throat Itch?

July 15th, 2017

itchyYou can’t scratch the inside of your throat — but sometimes it gets dog-gone itchy. Almost everyone has had the experience of an irritating itchy feeling inside your throat. It can be caused by a variety of things. To solve the puzzle, it’s helpful to look at symptoms that come along with an itchy throat.

Causes
Hay fever (allergic rhinitis) is one of the most common causes of itchy throats. The histamine reaction can make your throat feel irritated. Other common allergy triggers are pollen, dander, dust, and irritants such as cigarette smoke or exhaust fumes.

Itchy throats caused by allergies may be accompanied by:

  • sinus pressure
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • itchy eyes and skin
  • sneezing
  • tiredness
  • swollen, red, or watery eyes

Food and drug allergies can also cause an itchy throat. The allergy may be mild, ending with an itchy throat or mouth. But they can also be life-threatening, so care is needed. Common trigger foods include peanuts, shellfish, eggs, milk, and wheat. 
Many people have allergies to certain medications including penicillin and other antibiotics. Some medications cause dry coughs and itchy throats even if you aren’t allergic to them. People taking ACE inhibitors for high blood pressure should know that they can cause an itchy throat and dry cough.

 

When caused by food or drug allergies, itchy throats may come with:

  • hives
  • redness of skin around the eyes
  • itchy ears
  • nausea and vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • stomach pain
  • swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat
  • trouble breathing or swallowing
  • sense of doom
  • drop in blood pressure
  • loss of consciousness

 

Strep throat, tonsillitis, and viruses may start with an itchy throat before progressing to a sore one. If it is just a cold, the itchy throat likely won’t progress beyond mildly sore. If a person has a flu infection, their throat will be more severe and accompanied by fever, body aches, and chest discomfort. If the itchy throat is caused by an acute illness, it will probably be short-lived and accompanied by a combination of the following symptoms:

  • fever
  • swollen glands
  • muscle aches
  • weakness
  • headache
  • cough
  • nasal congestion

 

Dehydration is common during hot weather, after exercise, or during illness, and can make your throat feel itchy. When the itchy throat is caused by dehydration, other symptoms can include

  • extreme thirst
  • dry mouth
  • infrequent dark urine

 

Heartburn can cause an itch. Some people have a condition called silent reflux and may only notice a chronic, itchy throat as a symptom. But this is the exception. Normally, reflux or heartburn comes along with:

  • difficulty or pain when swallowing
  • burning sensation in chest or throat
  • gas
  • inflamed voice box
  • worn down tooth enamel
  • inflamed gums
  • bad taste in mouth

 

What To Do About It

 

A doctor does not always need to examine an itchy throat. Many times, home treatments are effective. How to best treat an itchy throat depends on what is causing it. Here there are some tried and tested remedies that may help:

  • a spoonful of honey to coat the throat
  • salt water gargles
  • lozenges and cough drops
  • nasal spray
  • hot tea with lemon and honey
  • over-the-counter allergy or cold medications
  • nasal sprays

 

There are also steps you can take to avoid getting an itchy throat in the first place. If you smoke, try to quit. Drink plenty of water, especially in hot weather. Avoid drinking caffeine and alcohol, which can irritate your throat.

 

If your symptoms last for more than 10 days, get worse, or don’t respond to self-care, you should see a doctor. Get help immediately if your itchy throat comes with trouble breathing, wheezing, hives, swelling in the face, a severe sore throat, fever, or difficulty swallowing.

Are Antibiotics Always the Best Path to Treat Sinus and Ear Infections?

May 18th, 2017

antiIf you have a painful sinus problem or ear infection, you just want relief … and swallowing antibiotics can seem like the easiest path to recovery. About 90% of adults in the U.S. end up getting an antibiotic for acute sinusitis from their general practice doctor. Ear infections tell the same story; millions of parents take their children to the pediatrician for ear infections, and most of them end up going home with antibiotics.

But antibiotics may not always be the best remedy, according to recent research. Many medical groups are now recommending that doctors prescribe antibiotics with more caution. Research has shown that 60% to 70% of people with sinus infections recover without antibiotics. About 70% of children get better from ear infections on their own within two or three days, and about 80% are better within a week to 10 days.

There are some real downsides to using antibiotics when they’re not necessary — they can cause upset stomachs, allergic reactions and other problems. And they can contribute to the development of superbugs — infections that are getting harder and harder to cure.

It is difficult for doctors to know what is causing an infection just by observation. Sinus and ear infections can be caused by bacterial infection (for which antibiotics generally work)… but they can also be caused by viruses, drainage problems, and other conditions for which antibiotics definitely offer no help. Antibiotics may be more appropriate to give to certain patients who are less able to fight off infection, such as those with diabetes, or serious heart or lung disease. And antibiotics should be considered in patients with severe sinusitis symptoms.

And there are some kids who definitely should get antibiotics for ear infections, such as those ages 6 months to 2 years who have infections in both ears or any child who has severe symptoms, such as severe pain for several days and a fever of at least 102.2 degrees. Any child who has a ruptured eardrum should also get antibiotics.

The new guidelines recognize the need for physicians to decide the best way to treat each person. Sometimes a “wait and see” approach will give people flexibility … they get a prescription for antibiotics, but are instructed not to use it until they are more certain that the infection won’t resolve on it’s own. The longer symptoms last, the more likely a sinus problem is to be a bacterial infection, some experts say. The new guidelines also recommend ways parents can protect their kids from ear infections in the first place, such as by breast-feeding and keeping kids away from cigarette smoke.