Could your snoring be a sign that you have this common sleep disorder?
Dragging yourself out of bed in the morning. Walking like a zombie to the coffee pot. Pounding coffee to try to clear the brain fog. Falling asleep at your desk. Feeling easily annoyed with everyone around you. Finding out from your partner that you were snoring loudly, again. If this sounds like you, it might be time to visit an ENT doctor for a sleep apnea evaluation.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes pauses in breathing throughout the night due to tissue collapsing in the back of the throat, which blocks airflow. This limited airflow and oxygen to the brain can lead to various health problems over time, some of which can be dangerous if sleep apnea is left untreated. The National Sleep Foundation reports that as many as 85 percent of people with sleep apnea don’t even know they have it.
What Are the Warning Signs?
You could have sleep apnea if you are dealing with,
- Loud, chronic snoring
- Gasping for breath or choking sounds
- Restless sleep
- Morning headaches
- Daytime fatigue despite getting enough sleep
- Mood swings
- Difficulty concentrating
- Brain fog
- Falling asleep at your desk or behind the wheel
- Needing a nap to get through the day
- Increased irritability
- Decreased sex drive
When Should I Turn to an Ent Doctor?
Most people seek an ENT doctor for an evaluation because their partner is complaining about their loud snoring, night after night. Of course, if you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, it’s worth turning to an ENT specialist for a proper evaluation to determine if you could have sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is diagnosed through a sleep study, which you may be able to complete from the comfort of home. If you suspect sleep apnea in yourself or someone you love, it’s vital that you schedule an appointment as soon as possible.
How Is Sleep Apnea Treated?
CPAP therapy is still the standard way to treat obstructive sleep apnea, requiring the individual to wear a mask over their nose and mouth while sleeping. During the night, the mask pumps pressurized air into the airways to keep them open. CPAP much be worn every night.
Mild to moderate forms of obstructive sleep apnea may also be treated with a simple oral appliance to keep airways open while you sleep. This device may also benefit individuals who aren’t candidates for CPAP therapy.
While surgery can also be used to treat sleep apnea, before considering surgery, you may want to consider the newest sleep apnea treatment—a subdermal device that is placed directly under the skin and you turn on and control with a remote. You turn it on before going to bed, and the device will stimulate the muscles of the airways to keep them open.
If you suspect that you might have sleep apnea, you must turn to an ENT doctor who can perform the appropriate tests and provide you with an immediate diagnosis so you can get the treatment you need. You’ll be amazed at the relief you feel and how refreshed you can feel day in and day out when your sleep apnea is fully controlled.
Find out what to do if you or your child develops an ear infection
Some ear infections can be downright painful, while others can go unnoticed (but still cause complications in the long run). It’s essential to spot the symptoms of an ear infection and recognize the signs that it’s time to turn to an ENT doctor for treatment. Here’s what you should know about ear infections,
What Are the Different Kinds of Ear Infections?
The ear is made up of the middle, outer and inner ear. Ear infections can occur in another of these three parts, but middle ear infections (otitis media) are prevalent. While a virus causes most ear infections, ear infections can also result from bacteria or fungi. Most children will develop an ear infection by the age of three.
What Are the Classic Signs of an Ear Infection?
Could you be dealing with an ear infection? Here are the telltale signs,
- Ear pain (often intense and throbbing)
- Pressure or fullness in the ear
- Limited hearing or hearing loss
- Ringing or humming in the ear
- Drainage from the ear
- Loss of balance
If your child is too young to tell you that they have an ear infection, it’s essential that you’re able to spot the warning signs,
- Pulling or tugging at the ear
- Pus or drainage coming from their ear
- Redness or swelling
- Increased fussiness or clinginess
- Crying or irritability that gets worse when lying down
- Trouble sleeping
Recognize these signs? If so, it’s a good idea to call your ENT doctor.
When Should I Turn to an ENT Doctor?
When it comes to an ear infection, you may be able to take a wait-and-see approach; however, if your earache is severe, you may want to turn to a doctor who can ease your symptoms until the body fights the infection. Of course, you may want to turn to an ENT doctor if,
- You notice flaky skin along with the symptoms above (these can be signs of a bacterial infection)
- An itchy ear along with the symptoms above (itching is often a sign of fungal infection)
- You develop an ear infection after swimming, water sports or if you’re living in a tropical or subtropical climate (this puts you at risk for fungal ear infections)
- You notice changes in hearing or hearing loss
- You are dealing with severe pain
- Your symptoms don’t improve within three days
- You develop a fever over 100.4 F
- You or your child is dealing with recurring infections
How Is an Ear Infection Treated?
Antibiotics or antifungals will be prescribed to treat the infection if you are dealing with a bacterial or fungal infection. These types of infections will not clear up on their own. The body will fight ear infections caused by viruses; however, we can still provide you with ways to ease pain and manage symptoms until the infection goes away.
If you’re dealing with a severe earache or your child is dealing with multiple ear infections a year, it’s time to turn to an ENT doctor that can provide you with the specialized, custom treatment you need.
How can you distinguish between a regular and a sinus-induced headache?
Sinus problems can be a real nuisance. While a stuffy nose, congestion and facial pressure may be part of the package, you may not realize that sinus problems could also be responsible for your headaches. If you are dealing with persistent or regular headaches, and you are also dealing with sinus issues, your headaches could be due to your sinuses. If this is the case, an ENT doctor can help you treat this common problem.
What causes a sinus headache?
When the nasal passages become congested, a sinus headache can start brewing. You may notice that you develop more sinus headaches during times of the year when your allergies flare up, or you may find that your headaches accompany a sinus infection. Along with allergies, other problems that could trigger a sinus headache include,
- Nasal polyps
- Deviated septum
- Viral infections
- Bacterial infections
- Fungal infection (rare)
What are the signs of a sinus headache?
Along with inflamed sinuses, symptoms of a sinus headache are different from that of a tension headache. Signs of a sinus headache include,
- Nasal congestion
- Stuffy nose or runny nose
- Lack of smell
- Facial pressure often in the forehead
- Facial pain that gets worse when leaning over
- Yellow nasal discharge
How a sinus headache is treated will differ from migraines, so it’s essential to spot the differences. If you develop a severe headache accompanied by dizziness, sensitivity to light or sound, nausea, vomiting or auras, these are telltale signs that you’re dealing with a migraine and not a sinus headache.
How is a sinus headache treated?
While most sinus infections will resolve without treatment, an ENT doctor will be able to provide you with lifestyle changes, medication options and other remedies that could ease your headache and other symptoms until the infection resolves itself. Some ways to treat sinus headaches include,
- Home remedies such as Neti Pot, saline irrigation, steam and a warm compress
- Over-the-counter medications such as decongestants and pain medications
- Prescription medications include antihistamines, decongestants and nasal steroids
- Alternative treatment options such as essential oils, homeopathy, acupuncture and herbs
If headaches have become the norm, you may be surprised to discover that your sinuses are to blame. Of course, to get your headaches under control, you should also get your sinus problems under control. For that, you’ll want to turn to an otolaryngologist.
Recognize the early warning signs of hearing loss.
Hearing loss is incredibly common—the NIH reports that one in eight people in the US over the age of 12 years old has some degree of hearing loss. While hearing loss is more common among older adults, this doesn’t mean hearing loss can’t occur in young children, teens, or adults. The key is detecting hearing loss early on so an otolaryngologist can treat the problem and also take measures to prevent hearing loss from getting worse.
Everyone Seems Like They’re Mumbling
You used to be able to understand what people were saying to you but these days it seems like everyone around you is mumbling. While some people are simply soft-spoken if you find yourself having trouble understanding what most people around you are saying this could be a sign that they aren’t mumbling, but rather, that you’re dealing with some degree of hearing loss.
You Say “Huh” A Lot
Along with noticing that people around you are suddenly mumbling a lot more, you may also find yourself saying “What?” or “Huh?” to people a lot. If having people repeat themselves has become commonplace this is another telltale sign of hearing loss.
You Don’t Follow Conversations
When you don’t fully understand what people are saying around you it’s often easier just to tune it all out. The problem is that many people with hearing loss, particularly seniors, feel the social withdrawal that comes with not being part of the conversation. If you also find that noisy settings such as a crowded restaurants make it even more difficult to understand people and conversations, you may want to see your audiologist for a hearing evaluation.
Phone Conversations are More Difficult
Nothing is better than getting to catch up with family and friends on the phone unless you’re dealing with hearing loss. Even mild hearing loss can make it difficult to understand what someone else is saying on the phone. If you find yourself working hard to hear what someone is saying on the phone (or if you have to turn the volume all the way up) you may want to schedule a hearing test with an ENT.
If you are noticing changes in your hearing, it’s important that you turn to an otolaryngologist right away to learn about the cause and degree of your hearing loss, and whether you could benefit from a hearing aid.
Find out whether you might benefit from a hearing aid.
It might seem silly to ask yourself since it might seem obvious whether you need a hearing aid or not, but it’s not always as clear-cut as it seems. This is when it’s time to turn to an otolaryngologist who will be able to determine whether hearing aids are right for you. Here are some questions to ask yourself that may help you decide whether or not you might benefit from wearing a hearing aid:
Ask yourself these questions:
- Does it sound like people around you mumble?
- Do you have to turn the volume up on the TV or radio to hear it?
- Do you need people to repeat themselves often?
- Is it difficult to understand people on the phone?
- Do you withdraw from the conversation, particularly in a group or noisy setting?
- Do you find yourself reading lips or focusing on someone when they speak?
If you said “yes” to some of these questions, you could undoubtedly be dealing with hearing loss. One fairly common type of hearing loss is hearing people in a standard pitch but not being able to hear higher-pitched sounds.
How do hearing aids work?
Before getting a hearing aid, it’s important to note that unlike glasses, which can correct visual impairments, hearing aids cannot fully restore your hearing to normal; however, a hearing aid can amplify voices and sounds to make it easier to hear them. Wearing a hearing aid can make joining in and listening to everyday conversations easier. Some advanced features also offer fantastic technology to make communicating in a noisy setting easier. Some hearing aids can also be used to amplify high-pitched sounds.
Since there are so many different technologies, styles, and features when it comes to getting a hearing aid, it’s essential to turn to an ENT doctor who can not only assess your degree of hearing loss but also talk through the different hearing aids options for you based on your health, budget and lifestyle.
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