Discover the reasons why your voice is hoarse and what an ENT doctor can do about it.
While some people may find a raspy voice attractive, a hoarse voice may be rather startling if it’s suddenly appeared out of nowhere. There are many reasons why you may be experiencing hoarseness. Find out the common causes and when you may want to see an ENT doctor for treatment.
There are many reasons why you may be dealing with a hoarse voice. Common causes include,
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Vocal cord polyps or cysts
- Thyroid problems
- Vocal cord trauma
- Parkinson’s disease
- Cancer of the throat
But to find out what is really behind your raspy voice you will want to visit an otolaryngologist who will be able to ask you questions about your hoarseness and also perform a physical exam. Sometimes we will use a small, lighted scope that will be able to examine the vocal cords for any issues. If you have been dealing with hoarseness for about 2 to 3 weeks then it’s really important that you seek medical attention, as there could be a serious reason behind your condition.
Treating Your Hoarseness
The treatment plan that you are given will depend on the cause of your symptoms. Some acute infections such as laryngitis will clear up over time on its own, so more conservative at-home measures like using a humidifier can help manage symptoms until the illness goes away.
To prevent further damage or injury to your vocal cords we also recommend resting the voice as much as possible. If you are a smoker we highly advise that you consider quitting.
If allergies or GERD is the reason for your hoarseness they can both be managed with certain medications. Surgery is usually only necessary if there are polyps, cysts, trauma to the vocal cords or the presence of cancer.
If your hoarseness is severe or is concerning you this is more than enough reason to visit an ENT professional who can tell you what’s going on. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call.
Hearing loss is a serious condition that affects millions of Americans. Don’t be next!
From going to loud concerts to walking by a construction site, there are many instances in which our ears can take some pretty nasty abuse; however, over time these sounds can take a serious toll on our hearing. And if you work in a rather loud environment, it’s vitally important that you take the necessary precautions you need to protect your hearing for the future. Find out how to protect your ears and whether your workplace warrants protection.
Assess Your Workplace’s Noise Levels
Ask yourself these questions to determine whether you work in a loud environment:
- Do you leave work with ringing in your ears?
- Do you experience temporary hearing loss after leaving your workplace?
- Do you have to shout at coworkers who are close by just to be heard?
If you’ve agreed with most or all of these questions, you are most likely working in an environment in which your ears need protection.
Protecting Your Ears on the Job
Here are some ways to protect your precious hearing from a loud workplace:
- Talk to your ENT doctor about earplugs or muffs that you can wear to protect your hearing. Not all ear protection is created equally, so you’ll want to find ones that are strong and durable enough to provide the ultimate protection.
- Get annual evaluations from your otolaryngologist to make sure that your hearing isn’t being impacted by your workplace. Through these evaluations we can check the health of your ears and provide you with tips for how to better protect your ears.
- Try and operate any noisy machinery on shifts where there are fewer people working.
- Limit an employee’s exposure to certain loud noises and offer noise-free areas that workers can go to get relief.
- Make sure that machinery and equipment is well oiled and maintained. Make sure there is a sound barrier such as a wall that can be used to separate workers from the machinery whenever possible.
- Opt for using low-noise machinery.
- It’s important that if your hearing is being affected that you work with your employer to make sure some of these options are implemented so that you can protect your hearing while on the job.
Hearing is so very important and any ear, nose and throat doctor will agree. If you want to be able to hear crystal clear for many years to come it’s important that you implement specific measures now. Protect your ears and they will serve you well in the future!
Find out how tonsil stones develop and what your treatment options are.
When we think about stones we often think about kidney stones, but this isn’t the only area of the body where these hard and sometimes painful stones can appear. Another area that you may also experience stones is the tonsils, the tissue found in the back of your throat. Find out more about how tonsil stones happen and how an ENT doctor may treat them.
What causes tonsil stones?
It might not seem like it but there are folds and crannies in the tonsils where bacteria, food and dead cells can get trapped. When you eat, small bits of food stick to your tonsils. Bacteria then move in on the tonsils. With this buildup of gunk, at some point it becomes calcified and turns into a hard white lump known as a tonsil stone. Some people may have tonsil stones but not even know it.
Who is at risk for tonsil stones?
Those who tend to get chronic tonsillitis or other infections in the tonsils are more likely to develop tonsil stones. You are also more at risk if you still have your tonsils or adenoids (obviously!). If you are also someone who suffers from post-nasal drip this can also increase your chances of tonsil stones. Cigarettes smokers are also at risk because the smoke lingers on the back of the throat, negatively affecting the overall environment of the tonsils and adenoids.
What are the symptoms of tonsil stones?
Most small stones won’t cause symptoms, but if they are larger you may notice any of these issues:
- Sore throat
- Bad breath
- Problems swallowing
- Tonsil inflammation
- A white lump on the tonsils
How do you treat a tonsil stone?
If the stone is small enough and not causing you any symptoms then our ENT specialist may not recommend needing treatment. Sometimes people can gently and carefully remove these stones at home using a swab. If you are experiencing any inflammation or discomfort you can gargle with salt water several times a day.
For tonsil stones that are very large and cause discomfort, we may recommend that you have them surgically removed. This can easily be performed while under local anesthesia.
Don’t let painful tonsil stones get the better of you, call your local otolaryngologist for the care your mouth needs to get you back on the road to recovery.
If you use a Q-tip to clean your ears you will really want to read this.
Yes, we know that it feels satisfying to use a Q-Tip to clean out your ears. After all, if it’s removing earwax how can there be a problem with using them? However, did you know that earwax serves a purpose? It’s actually important protection for your ears and can prevent the growth of fungus. Find out more about why your ENT doctor will tell you that a Q-Tip ear cleaning is probably not the answer.
Okay, so while Q-Tips aren’t evil most people don’t use them properly, which can result in damage or even hearing loss. Remember, ears are self-cleaning so you shouldn’t need to do a lot of work to keep them clean. A good rule of thumb is if you are putting the Q-Tip into your ear, you are doing it improperly. Just read the box of Q-Tips and you will see that they even tell you not to put Q-Tips directly into the ear, just around the outer ear.
So, what happens when you put a Q-Tip too far into your ear? Sometimes you can actually push the earwax even further into the ear, where it can become impacted. If you notice that you suddenly can’t hear or that hearing is muffled chances are good that you are dealing with impacted earwax. Also, shoving a Q-Tip into the ear can also increase your risk of puncturing your eardrum, which can result in permanent hearing loss.
If you notice that you are prone to excessive earwax buildup you can always turn to your ENT specialist, who can easily and safely flush out excess wax that your ear may not actually remove on its own. It will only take a few minutes to perform and sure, coming into the office may seem a little time-consuming but it’s much safer than using a cotton swab.
If you are noticing issues with your ears or have questions about how to properly care for them, it’s time to talk to an otolaryngologist that will be able to steer you in the right direction to protect these important assets.
Find out if the symptoms you are experiencing are warning you of a potential swallowing disorder.
We all have been guilty of eating foods too fast or not chewing well enough before gobbling down our food, but a swallowing disorder is much different from this. If you have a true swallowing disorder (sometimes also referred to as dysphagia), this simply means that you will need to take more time in order to get food from your mouth to your stomach. In severe cases it may be impossible to swallow altogether. Learn more about what having this condition entails and why it happens.
Symptoms of a swallowing disorder include:
- Needing to take more time or exert more effort to chew or swallow food
- Pain when swallowing
- Choking on food
- Coughing during or right after eating
- Feeling like food is stuck in the throat
- Feeling like there is a “lump” in the throat
- Weight loss, malnutrition or dehydration
- Chest congestion after eating
- Food that feels “stuck”
What causes swallowing disorders?
It isn’t always possible to pinpoint the root cause, but common causes of dysphagia include nervous system disorders, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), cancer, stroke and neurological disorders, to name a few.
How is a swallowing disorder diagnosed and treated?
You will need to visit an otolaryngologist who can evaluate your symptoms, current medical conditions and test the muscles used for swallowing to see if signs point to this problem. Sometimes an endoscopic procedure or a barium swallow is needed for a proper diagnosis.
Treating a swallowing disorder will really depend on the cause, as well as the specific type of dysphasia (esophageal or oropharnygeal). There may be certain exercises that you will need to perform to improve the function of certain muscles. We can also show you certain postures or ways to position yourself to improve swallowing. Patients may also have to remove certain foods from their diet in order to make swallowing easier.
A swallowing disorder can lead to serious issues such as dehydration and malnutrition, among other things. If you are experiencing symptoms of a swallowing disorder it’s time you visited your local ENT doctor for care.
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