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Posts for: August, 2021

By Ear, Nose, & Throat Associates of Corpus Christi
August 26, 2021
Category: ENT Conditions
Ear PainWhile getting to hop aboard an airplane can be exciting, especially if you are traveling somewhere fun and new, we also know that it’s all fun and games until someone develops ear pain. If you or your child is prone to airplane ear (also known as ear barotrauma), then you may be interested in turning to an ENT doctor for answers. Discover the reason for airplane ear, what makes someone prone to this problem, and ways to prevent it from happening.

What are the symptoms of airplane ear?

Anyone who has ever experienced this knows the symptoms. Most people experience mild to moderate ear pain, fullness, or muffled hearing while flying. Sometimes these symptoms can become severe, resulting in intense ear pressure, vertigo, ringing in the ears, and even significant (but temporary) hearing loss.

Why does airplane ear happen?

Since you are flying at high altitudes in an airplane, the pressure of the air versus the pressure of the middle ear don’t align, which impacts how the eardrum vibrates. Since air pressure changes rather quickly, particularly during takeoff and landing, this is often when people experience bouts of airplane ear. Some people may find that yawning helps open the eustachian tubes to equalize pressure in the ear to alleviate symptoms.

Of course, flying in an airplane isn’t the only time that you may experience this problem. If you are in the mountains, ride an elevator or go scuba diving, you may also notice that your ears get plugged up. This is usually a minor occurrence of ear barotrauma.

Some people may be more prone to airplane ear than others. Newborns and toddlers are at risk because they have smaller eustachian tubes. Other risk factors include ear or sinus infections, allergies, or having a cold.

Are there ways to improve airplane ear?

Fortunately, there are certain techniques and tricks to make dealing with airplane ear a little less painful. Most people have tried the Valsalva maneuver, in which you pinch your nose and keep your mouth closed and then gently blow through the nose. You may also chew gum or suck on a piece of candy. If you believe that your airplane ear is caused by allergies or sinus infections, try taking a decongestant or using a nasal spray before takeoff and landing.

If you find yourself dealing with ear pain or changes in hearing that last for days after flying, it’s important that you call your ENT doctor right away. Even the most minor symptoms may require medical attention, so don’t ignore them.

By Ear, Nose, & Throat Associates of Corpus Christi
August 09, 2021
Category: ENT Conditions

Scratchy Throat

Sore throats are one of the most common symptoms people experience; however, they often accompany bacterial throat infections and colds. If you find yourself waking up in the morning with a dry, scratchy, or sore throat, then you may be wondering what’s going on. An ENT doctor who specializes in treating conditions of the ear, nose, and throat may be able to give you the answers you’re looking for.
 
What could be causing this problem?

It’s important to look to your environment and your lifestyle for clues as to what’s going on. For one, if you were out singing or talking in a loud club the night before you may have simply strained your vocal cords. If you have seasonal allergies such as hay fever, you may notice that you wake up with persistent scratchy or sore throats several months out of the year. If your bedroom is particularly dry, especially during the colder months, this could be another reason you wake up with sore throats.

There are a host of infections that also cause sore throats; however, they are often short-lived and don’t persist for more than 10 days. Viral infections are often to blame, and they will go away without treatment (antibiotics will not be effective against the common cold or influenza virus). People who deal with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) often complain of a scratchy or sore throat. If you are also dealing with heartburn or acid reflux two or more times a week, this could be the culprit.
 
Another possible cause of a sore or scratchy throat in the morning is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a common sleep disorder that causes obstructions in the airway while you sleep. It’s important to recognize the warning signs of OSA so that you know when to turn to an ENT for further evaluation.
 
These signs include,
  • Waking up with a sore throat
  • Persistent morning headaches
  • Waking up tired despite a full night’s sleep
  • Loud, chronic snoring
  • Increased mood swings
  • Trouble concentrating and poor memory
When to see a doctor?

If you experience recurring or persistent sore throats it’s always a good idea to see your ENT doctor for a proper diagnosis so you know how to best treat your symptoms. Since some infections such as strep can be dangerous to both kids and adults, it’s important to know when to come in for treatment.
  • You should see an ENT doctor right away if:
  • You are having trouble swallowing or breathing
  • You have extremely painful or swollen lymph nodes
  • Your sore throat is accompanied by a high fever
  • Your sore throat persists for more than a week
  • You have trouble sleeping due to swallowing or breathing issues
If you are dealing with a persistent or recurring scratchy or sore throat it’s important that you consult an ENT doctor to find out what’s going on. Many of the conditions above warrant treatment to prevent further complications, so don’t delay getting the treatment you need.