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By Ear, Nose, & Throat Associates of Corpus Christi
June 01, 2020
Category: ENT Health
Tags: Dysphagia  
You may take it for granted, but swallowing water, food, or saliva is actually a very complicated process. It requires vast systems of nerves and muscles working together. Patients that struggle to swallow normally have what is known as Dysphagia. This is not a stand-alone condition but a symptom of something else. It’s why you need to schedule an appointment with an Ears, Nose, and Throat specialist (ENT) right away. The elderly are especially at risk and can end up aspirating. 
 
The Swallowing Process
There are four distinct stages of swallowing. You do this hundreds of times every day without even realizing it. 
  • The oral preparation stage is where the food or liquid is made ready for swallowing. In terms of food, this means chewing your food. 
  • Next is the oral stage where the tongue moves food or liquid to the back of the mouth. This starts the swallowing process.
  • Then comes the pharyngeal stage, where the contents of the mouth go through the pharynx, throat, and esophagus. 
  • Last is the esophageal stage, where it transfers from the esophagus into your stomach. 
Symptoms of Dysphagia
Pay attention to these symptoms if dysphagia is suspected:
  • A constant feeling of something, either water or liquid, being stuck in the throat.
  • Problems controlling saliva production, i.e. drooling.
  • The sensation of a lump in the throat.
  • Discomfort in the chest or throat.
  • Coughing or choking when trying to swallow, drink, or eat. This is due to substances being pulled into the lungs. 
  • Difficulties sustaining a normal weight caused by swallowing interfering with nutritional intake. 
What Is Causing My Dysphagia? 
The most common cause is Gastroesophageal Reflux. This is a GI condition where stomach acid travels up the esophagus and pharynx. Other possibilities include: 
  • Tonsillitis or throat infections
  • Scarring or damage to the esophagus
  • Medication side effects 
  • Tumors in the lungs, esophagus, or throat
  • Nerve diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
What to Expect With Treatment
Your ENT specialist works with you to determine the cause of your dysphagia. Addressing the underlying condition can start a path to recovery. 
 
In some cases the cause is unclear. Your ENT will do everything possible to determine what is behind your dysphagia. They will ask you about the history of this problem and examine your throat. They might recommend a swallow test or various types of laryngoscopy. 
By Ear, Nose, & Throat Associates of Corpus Christi
May 18, 2020
Category: ENT Health
Tags: Cholesteatoma  
CholesteatomaCholesteatoma is when this excess amount of earwax creates a skin cyst on the eardrum or eardrum retraction pocket.
 
The Causes Behind Cholesteatoma
 
Cholesteatoma develops for a few different reasons. The most common one is bad ventilation in the eustachian tube. This connects the middle ear to your throat, nose, and sinuses. It’s what controls the pressure behind your eardrum. When it fails to work correctly, it doesn’t drain the middle ear, retracting the eardrum and collecting earwax and skin cells. Allergies and colds can heighten your risk of developing cholesteatoma, as these can lead to eustachian tube dysfunction.
 
Symptoms of Cholesteatoma
 
Most of the time, patients don’t realize that what they are experiencing is a cholesteatoma. The condition is not painful unless an infection occurs. Patients should expect cholesteatoma if they experience these symptoms: 
  • Frequent earache
  • Dizziness
  • Recurring ear infections
  • Drainage of foul liquid from the ear, possibly bloody
  • Hearing loss
  • Ear feelings stuffy or full
If any of these sound familiar, let your ENT doctor know right away. 
 
Treating Cholesteatoma
 
The only way to treat cholesteatoma is by removing the cyst from the ear. This is accomplished through surgical intervention. The location of the cholesteatoma determines the type of surgery. The patient undergoes testing before anything is scheduled. An examination of the ear can reveal the cholesteatoma, but not to its full extent. The patient needs a CT scan to provide precise imaging of the ear anatomy. The ENT doctor will also perform an audiogram, known as a hearing test. This indicates how much damage the cholesteatoma has caused. 
 
Before surgery, follow any advice given by the ENT. The patient may receive medications that hinder the drainage, along with antibiotics to treat the infection. The procedure is typically performed in an outpatient facility. The surgery removes the skin and infection, along with reconstructing either the eardrum or hearing bones. 
 
If you think you may be dealing with cholesteatoma, it’s important that you schedule an appointment with your Ears, Nose, and Throat (ENT) doctor right away. 
By Ear, Nose, & Throat Associates of Corpus Christi
May 01, 2020
Category: ENT Health
Tags: Hearing Aids  
Hearing loss is a widespread problem that affects large groups of people. It isn’t just caused by age, with younger people and children also being affected. It comes on gradually, with your hearing getting worse and worse. At a certain point, you need to consider investing in hearing aids. Before you talk to your Ears, Nose, and Throat specialist, educate yourself on the common signs of hearing loss. 
 
Do I Have Hearing Loss?
 
In most cases, the people around you will notice your hearing loss before you do. This is because you’ll start needing the things around you to be louder. The TV may sound quiet to you, but to others, it might be unnecessarily loud. They might also notice that they need to speak louder for you to understand them. 
 
Here are a few other common signs of hearing loss: 
  • People seem to be talking very quietly all the time
  • You find it difficult to follow along in conversations
  • Higher pitched sounds, like alarm clocks or birds, are harder to hear
  • Words with higher frequency consonants like f, t, s, p, and h are difficult to distinguish
  • You frequently ask people to repeat themselves
If you are experiencing any of these, schedule an appointment with an ENT. A hearing test can get you started on the right path. After taking the test, your doctor can determine what is causing your hearing loss and recommend hearing aids. 
 
Should I Get A Hearing Aid?
 
Hearing aids take normal sound and amplify it so that you can hear it. You’ll notice a major improvement in your ability to understand and converse with other people. 
 
Depending on your hearing test results, you may require one or two hearing aids. Binaural hearing is the ability to hear out of both ears. Sound reaches your ears at different times, letting you locate where a noise is coming from. You need binaural hearing to live a successful life. If both ears are showing lower levels of hearing, your ENT may recommend two hearing aids. Even if one ear hears better than the other, using two hearing aids improves the quality for the more affected ear. 
 
Contact a Professional Ears, Nose, and Throat Specialist Today
 
If any of the above experiences sound familiar to you, contact your local Ears, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialist today. They can help evaluate your hearing and find a solution that works for you. 
By Ear, Nose, & Throat Associates of Corpus Christi
April 16, 2020
Category: ENT Care
Tags: Nasal Polyps  

 If you are having trouble breathing or have recurrent sinus infections, you may also have nasal polyps. Nasal polyps are noncancerous growths which hang down from the walls of your nasal passages or sinuses. You are at greater risk of having nasal polyps if you have:

  • Asthma or allergies
  • Allergic fungal sinusitis
  • Recurring sinus infections
  • Aspirin sensitivity
  • Cystic fibrosis

If you are at greater risk of forming nasal polyps, there is a lot you can do to prevent them. Remember to:

  • Get treatment to manage asthma and allergies and prevent inflammation of your nasal passages and sinuses.
  • Avoid tobacco smoke, fumes, dust, and allergens to prevent nasal irritation.
  • Wash your hands frequently to prevent transmission of virus and bacteria which can cause infection.
  • Use a humidifier to moisten the air in your home which keeps your nasal passages moist.
  • Use a saline solution to rinse your nasal passages and sinuses and to help remove irritating substances.

You may not experience any symptoms if you have small nasal polyps, however, larger nasal polyps can cause:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Postnasal drip
  • Constant stuffiness
  • Loss of smell or taste
  • Headaches or facial pain
  • Chronic inflammation in your sinuses (sinusitis)
  • Frequent nasal or sinus infections
  • Snoring or sleep apnea

Fortunately there are effective treatments for nasal polyps. Your doctor may suggest:

  • Medications to shrink the size of the polyps or eliminate them; some common medications include:
  • Nasal corticosteroid spray to reduce inflammation
  • Injectable or oral corticosteroids in addition to spray
  • Antihistamines to reduce inflammation from allergies
  • Antibiotics to treat chronic sinus infections

For larger nasal polyps that don’t respond to treatment with medications, surgery might be indicated. Surgery is performed endoscopically using an endoscope with a camera attached which is inserted into your nostril and guided up your nasal passages into your sinuses. Tiny instruments are used to remove the polyps or other growths interfering with breathing.

Call your ENT today and start breathing better tomorrow!

By Ear, Nose, & Throat Associates of Corpus Christi
April 01, 2020
Category: Otolaryngology
Tags: Nasal issues  

Congestion and other nasal issues can make you feel miserable and affect your ability to breathe easily. Here are five common nasal problems and discusses treatment options.

Allergic rhinitis

Your nose is particularly sensitive to the effects of allergens in the air. Exposure to pollens, grass, weed, or mold can trigger uncomfortable symptoms, including:

  • Frequent sneezing
  • Congestion that makes breathing more difficult
  • Runny nose
  • Pain and pressure in your sinuses
  • Itchy nose, eyes, ears, and throat
  • Watery eyes
  • Scratchy throat

Allergy medications or shots, prescription nasal sprays, decongestants, and antihistamines can help prevent or reduce your symptoms.

Non-allergic rhinitis

Non-allergic rhinitis isn't caused by airborne allergens, even though the symptoms are the same. Exposure to strong irritants, such as smoke, dust, pollution, and strong odors can cause the problem. Saline nasal spray can help wash away irritants, reducing your symptoms. Decongestants and prescription corticosteroid or antihistamine nasal sprays may also be helpful.

Nosebleeds

Nosebleeds happen to nearly everyone occasionally and are usually caused by dry nasal passages or a blow to the nose. Saline nasals sprays and water-based nasal gels help moisten your nasal passages. If your nosebleed is severe, it may be necessary to cauterize the blood vessel to stop the bleeding.

Deviated septum

Your septum is a layer of bone and cartilage that separates your nostrils. Very few people have perfectly proportional septums. Although many of us have deviated septums, in most cases the deviation is minor and doesn't affect breathing. If the deviation is severe, you may experience:

  • Congestion
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Frequent sinus infections
  • Nosebleeds
  • Headaches
  • Postnasal drip
  • Snoring and sleep apnea

Nasal polyps

Nasal polyps are small growths that occur on the lining of your nose. Although they're usually benign, they can make it more difficult to breathe, cause runny noses and sinus pain, and increase your risk of sinus infections. Nasal corticosteroid strays can help shrink polyps, and antihistamines may be useful in reducing chronic nasal inflammation. If your polyps are large and other treatments haven't been unsuccessful, your ENT may recommend surgery.

Not sure what's causing your nasal issues? An ear, nose and throat doctor can diagnose the problem and offer treatments that will help you breathe easier. Call your ENT to schedule your appointment.





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