What are tonsil stones?
Tonsil stones are also known as tonsilloliths, and they are calcified clusters of bacteria and other debris that form on the tonsils. The tonsils have folds and nooks where bacteria and dead cells can get trapped. If this happens, the debris calcifies in these little nooks within the tonsils.
Who gets tonsil stones?
Those with chronic tonsil inflammation or infections like tonsillitis are more prone to getting tonsil stones; however, this condition can happen to anyone.
- Bad breath
- Sore throat
- Ear pain
- Problems swallowing
- White tonsils
- Swelling of the tonsils
Since the majority of patients who experience regular tonsil stones are those who have chronic tonsillitis, the only way to truly prevent tonsil stones from happening is to remove the tonsils altogether; however, a tonsillectomy is performed under general anesthesia and may cause a sore throat for a few days after the procedure.
How are tonsil stones treated?
Your treatment plan will depend primarily on the size of the tonsil stones and the symptoms you are experiencing; however, for many patients, treatment may not be necessary. This is particularly true for those who do not have any symptoms or discomfort. For those who need relief, gargling with warm salter water can ease the pain of tonsillitis and tonsil stones.
Antibiotics can also be prescribed to treat tonsilloliths. While antibiotics can be effective, they will not prevent tonsil stones from happening in the future. For patients with extremely large or painful tonsil stones, surgery may be necessary; however, this is a simple outpatient procedure that can be performed under local anesthesia.
If you have tonsil stones or you are dealing with recurring tonsillitis, it’s important that you turn to an ENT doctor to find out why you are dealing with these symptoms and how to best treat them.
Retrain Your Nose
Yes, there is such a thing as olfactory training (aka smell training) and you can do it yourself from the comfort of your own home. Of course, if you have any questions you should contact your ENT doctor. During smell training, grab four strong essential oil scents such as mint, vanilla, citrus, and eucalyptus. You can also use ground coffee if you’d like. Sniff each scent for 20 seconds, and repeat this training at least three times a day. For best results, do this as soon as possible after losing your sense of smell and taste. The sooner you start, the better!
Preventing Olfactory Dysfunction
While retraining the senses is possible after Covid-19, the best way to prevent this from happening in the first place is to get vaccinated against Covid-19. If you do experience these symptoms, the next best thing is to immediately start olfactory training. If you aren’t sure how to do it or you’re not sure if you’re doing it effectively, speak with your doctor or ENT specialist.
When to See an ENT Doctor
Anyone who is experiencing olfactory dysfunction due to Covid-19 may feel that this symptom is impacting their wellbeing, social life, and quality of life. If you find that this is happening to you, you may wish to speak to a specialist who can provide you with some advice and tips for how to get your taste and smell back.
It’s important to note that most people who’ve had this symptom have fully recovered their smell and taste, but it can take months; however, early treatment may be key to recovering your tastebuds again quickly. So, seek treatment as soon as possible.
If you have questions or concerns about loss of taste or smell after recovering from Covid-19, don’t hesitate to speak with an ENT specialist who can provide you with answers and information to help you get your health back on track.
What are the symptoms of head and neck cancer?
Here are some of the common signs and symptoms of head and neck cancer:
- Tender red or white patches in the mouth
- A painful lump in the neck or mouth
- Persistent or recurring sore throats
- Hoarseness or other vocal changes
- Trouble chewing or swallowing
- Frequent nosebleeds, often on one side
- Ear pain
- Jaw pain
- Blood in saliva
- Unexplained and sudden weight loss
What can an otolaryngologist do for me?
An ENT doctor has received specialized training to be able to provide valuable insight and to create custom treatment plans for patients dealing with head and neck cancer. Additionally, an otolaryngologist usually has advanced imaging tests right here in their office to diagnose or rule out cancer. They will collaborate with your current doctors to come up with the very best treatment options and care to remove benign or malignant tumors. For patients who are dealing with structural changes as a result of tumor or growth removal, an ENT doctor may also be able to provide face and neck reconstructive surgery.
We understand just how scary head and neck cancer can be. Our goal is to provide patients with the supportive, respectful, and understanding care and support they need from our whole team. If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of head and neck cancer, it’s important that you turn to an ENT doctor right away for proper diagnostic testing to determine what’s causing your symptoms. The sooner you turn to an otolaryngologist the better.
What are the types of nasal sprays?
Not all nasal sprays work the same way and it’s important to figure out which one is going to provide you with the most effective relief. There are:
Saline nasal sprays
If the air around you is cold and dry, which is common in winter, you may be dealing with irritated nasal tissue. If this is the case, a saline nasal spray can help rinse away mucus and drain the sinuses of bacteria and germs, which can reduce inflammation. If you find that your nose is more sensitive to over-the-counter saline nasal sprays, look for ones without preservatives.
If you regularly deal with thick, nasal congestion, saline nasal sprays can help to loosen and thin out mucus. It can also be used daily without rebound nasal congestion or harm to the nasal tissue. Of course, if you are concerned about any over-the-counter nasal sprays or medications you’re using, don’t hesitate to talk to your otolaryngologist.
Decongestant nasal sprays
While saline nasal sprays can be used regularly without issues, decongestant nasal sprays should not be used for more than three days. If used more often, you’re likely to deal with more congestion once you stop taking it than when you first started the medication. It’s important to use these sprays exactly as directed. If you abuse the product, as many people do, you may find yourself dealing with chronic nasal congestion, which may require a steroid spray to treat the problem.
So, when is it safe to use a decongestant nasal spray? If you are at the very beginning stages of a sinus infection or cold, a decongestant nasal spray can provide relief in the first couple of days. If you find that your nasal problems persist, then it’s a good idea to tell your ear, nose, and throat doctor.
If nasal sprays aren’t providing you with relief, or you find yourself using them daily, it’s important that you turn to an ENT doctor who can provide you with a more long-term and effective nasal spray or treatment that can help you breathe better and tackle your symptoms.
Make Sure You Use Sterile Water Every Time
Most people simply fill up their Neti pot or nasal irrigation system with tap water. This is a big no-no. It’s very important that you use distilled or sterilized water to kill off any amoeba or bacteria in the water that could cause serious and even fatal infections if they enter the sinuses. It’s important that you stick to this rule every time you use your sinus rinse.
You Can Make Your Own Solution
Most commercial nasal irrigation systems come with their own packets of nasal solution. While it’s a good idea to use these, if you decide that you want to make your own it’s important that you get the measurements right so you don’t damage the nasal tissue (after all, this tissue is very delicate). The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology has provided this homemade nasal rinse “recipe”:
- 1 part baking soda
- 3 parts no-iodide, preservative-free salt
Keep Your Neti Pot Clean
Since nasal irrigation systems hold water, it makes it a hospitable environment for mold and mildew to grow. The best way to prevent this from happening is to rinse out your neti pot with hot water and soap after each use. If you use your neti pot regularly, you’ll want to play it safe and get a new one every few months.
You Can Use it Daily
If you are experiencing nasal congestion or postnasal drip due to a cold or allergies then you may wish to use your sinus rinse every day. If this is your first time using it, it’s recommended that you try it only once daily and then work your way up to three times per day to see if that helps alleviate your symptoms.
If you are dealing with several or persistent nasal symptoms and issues that aren’t being relieved through sinus rinses and regular at-home care then it may be time to turn to an ENT doctor.
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