Have you had a stuffy nose, thick drainage, and pain and pressure in your face and head for several weeks, or even months? If so, you may have a sinus infection. A Sound Health doctor can diagnose your condition based on your symptom history and a thorough exam. Afterward, they will offer you the best treatment option to deliver the fastest relief.
Sinus Infection Treatment Options
Sinusitis (the clinical term for a sinus infection) needs different treatment methods depending on what is causing the infection and how long symptoms have persisted. Acute viral sinusitis is usually short-lived and can be treated using pain relievers, steroid nasal sprays, and saltwater nasal irrigation. Whereas, acute bacterial sinusitis may require antibiotics to stop the infection. Chronic sinusitis can last for months and inflammation or structural issues in your sinuses are often the cause. Therefore, treatment aims to deal with those concerns.
Surgical Options for Chronic Sinusitis
To ease discomfort caused by a chronic sinus infection, you can try saltwater nasal irrigation or nasal steroid sprays. However, surgery is sometimes needed for permanent relief. First, your doctor will address what’s causing the inflammation in your nasal cavity, such as allergies, and may suggest allergy medications or allergy shots to help your body adapt to allergens in the environment. Furthermore, if your doctor suspects you have a structural problem that’s led to a narrow nasal pathway, he or she will order an X-ray or CT scan. In addition, they may suggest one of the following surgery options depending on the results.
Endoscopic sinus surgery. Using a tiny endoscope, the doctor carefully removes bone and tissue that’s blocking the sinus pathway. This allows mucus to drain more efficiently from the sinuses while air can flow in more easily. Also, it makes room for nasal sprays and irrigation treatments to better do their job. In many cases, patients go home the same day.
Balloon sinus ostial dilation (BSOD). Using a soft, flexible guidewire, the doctor inserts an uninflated balloon into the sinus opening and expands it to widen the nasal passage. This procedure is outpatient, requires a very short recovery time, and has been found to be very effective for relieving chronic sinus infections.
Sound Health Physicians Offer the Best Sinus Infection Treatment in St. Louis
Our ENT doctors are specially trained in diagnosing and treating conditions of the sinuses. We would be happy to see you in our office to discuss how you can get relief from the pain and discomfort of your sinus infection. Call today to schedule an appointment at (314) 332-1377 in MO or (618) 235-3687 in IL.
May is Better Hearing and Speech Month, and this year’s focus is Communication Across the Lifespan. Since hearing is a key factor in being able to communicate, finding the best hearing care is critical. We’d like to discuss why it’s beneficial to see an audiologist who works with an ENT doctor. A team approach to hearing care improves your chances of enjoying the best communication possible throughout your life.
What Do Audiologists Do?
Audiologists diagnose, treat, and prevent hearing and balance disorders in children and adults. They must have attained either a Masters in Audiology or Doctor of Audiology degree. In addition to their extensive training, audiologists also participate in continuing education.
You should see an audiologist if you need:
Hearing testing or treatment
Hearing aid fitting and management
Tinnitus treatment (or ringing in the ears)
Dizziness and balance treatment
What Do ENT Doctors Do?
An Ear, Nose and Throat Doctor is specially trained in diseases and conditions of the head and neck, including those that have to do with hearing. If a patient has trouble hearing, an ENT doctor assesses and treats the medical condition causing the issue. For example, treatment for ear infections, ear injuries, or structural abnormalities may include medications or surgery.
How Audiologists and ENT Doctors Work as a Team
When a patient has a hearing problem, it’s important for an audiologist to perform prompt hearing testing to determine the cause. If there is an ENT doctor in the same office, the audiologist can share results of his or her evaluation with the doctor prior to his exam so the doctor knows what to look for. Along those same lines, if an ENT doctor determines that a patient’s hearing problem can’t be corrected medically, he will want to consult with an audiologist to determine the best course of action to treat the loss and preserve hearing. And finally, if a patient wears hearing aids, it’s nice for an ENT to be able to clear impacted wax and address other medical problems that can interfere with wearing hearing aids.
In short, the two professionals collaborate to ensure their patients maintain the best hearing possible.
At Sound Health Services, Audiologists and ENT Doctors Work Hand-in-Hand
In our offices, you’ll find a knowledgeable team of ENT physicians as well as audiologists who are specially trained in the most sophisticated diagnostic procedures. By working together, our staff can provide comprehensive care for patients with hearing disorders so they’re able to communicate with loved ones at any stage of life. If you have trouble hearing, call Sound Health at (314) 332-1377 in MO or (618) 235-3687 in IL to make an appointment so we can develop a treatment plan for you.
If you or your child have been experiencing pain behind the ear along with a fever, a swollen ear lobe, a drooping ear, or ear drainage, call our office right away. You could have a serious infection called Mastoiditis that needs prompt medical attention.
What Is Mastoiditis?
Mastoiditis is a bacterial infection in the prominent bone behind the ear called the mastoid process. When your ear infection (known as acute otitis media) isn’t adequately treated, bacteria can spread into the bone and sometimes beyond into the blood and brain. If left untreated, you can develop facial paralysis, deafness, meningitis, brain abscess, and sepsis.
Symptoms of Mastoiditis
Following an ear infection, you may notice these symptoms:
Red, swollen and tender skin around the large bone behind the ear
The ear may be pushed sideways and down, causing it to droop or bulge
Thick, creamy ear drainage
Throbbing, persistent pain behind the ear
We Diagnose and Treat Mastoiditis
If you or your child exhibit symptoms of Mastoiditis, your doctor will schedule a CT scan to confirm the diagnosis. Also, they will take a sample of ear drainage to test the bacteria. Depending on the severity of the infection, your doctor will give you an oral or intravenous antibiotic. If an abscess has formed in the bone, your doctor will perform surgery to remove the infected part of the bone. Furthermore, you may also need surgery to drain fluid from the middle ear. If that’s the case, your doctor will insert a small tube to keep the hole from closing. Generally, your tube will fall out by itself within 6 or 12 months.
Call Sound Health Services Right Away If You Suspect Mastoiditis
Most importantly, you should call a doctor any time you have pain behind the ear, ear drainage, and other symptoms of this dangerous infection due to the severe effects of untreated Mastoiditis. If you have these symptoms, we encourage you to call our office right away to schedule an appointment at (314) 332-1377 in MO and (618) 235-3687 in IL.
Warmer weather in St. Louis is here, and with it comes all the annoying symptoms spring allergies bring. While many allergy sufferers experience sneezing, congestion and a runny nose, some also have red, itchy, watery eyes. If you suffer from eye allergies this time of year, we’ll tell you how to get relief and when it’s time to see a doctor.
What Causes Eye Allergies?
Just as pollen triggers your nose to run, you get watery eyes because your eyes perceive the allergen as an intruder and release histamine to keep it out. Histamine is a chemical that causes inflammation, so blood vessels in your eyes swell and become red, itchy, and watery.
How Can I Prevent or Relieve Eye Allergies?
To keep from getting irritated, itchy eyes, you can try to:
• Limit your exposure. Stay indoors and close windows when the pollen count is high, and use a HEPA filter with a MERV rating of 9 or higher to keep the allergen from circulating through your indoor air.
• Avoid rubbing your eyes. This releases more histamine and actually aggravates eye allergies.
• Wear sunglasses. Since pollen blows through the air on a breezy day, sunglasses can keep it from making its way into your eyes.
• Remove contact lenses. Glasses may be a better bet this time of year since airborne allergens tends to build up on contacts. If you need to wear contacts, try artificial tears made for contact lenses, which can help wash allergens from your eyes.
• Use over-the-counter eye drops. You can find eye drops at local drug stores made to relieve watery eyes, redness, and itchiness caused by allergies.
• Take an antihistamine or decongestant (or a combination). Antihistamines reduce eye allergy symptoms by preventing histamine from attaching to cells that cause inflammation, while decongestants reduce the size of blood vessels to reduce redness in eyes.
When Should I See a Doctor About Eye Allergy Relief?
If you’ve tried the above prevention and relief methods and still have irritated eyes, make an appointment with a Sound Health physician to discuss a treatment plan. After discussing your allergy symptoms, your doctor may suggest a prescription medication such as:
• Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory eye drops. These can decrease irritation, swelling, and other symptoms that accompany eye allergies.
• Steroid eye drops. These may provide relief from acute eye allergy symptoms, but your doctor will need to discuss side effects of long-term use.
• Mast cell stabilizers. This is an oral histamine blocker that’s usually taken before allergy season begins.
• Allergy shots. Immunotherapy, or allergy shots, introduces small amounts of allergens to your immune system to help your body gradually build up immunity. Once your immune system accepts pollen or whatever allergen you’re sensitive to, you won’t be as likely to have itchy, watery eyes or the other respiratory symptoms that accompany spring allergies.
Don’t Let Eye Allergies Ruin Your Spring. Call Sound Health Services!
To get relief from your red, watery, itchy eyes, contact our office to schedule an appointment with an ENT in your area. Call (314) 332-1377 in MO and (618) 235-3687 in IL.
If you have ear pain when swallowing, it can make eating, drinking, and talking very difficult. Often when patients complain that their ears hurt when they swallow, it’s due to a nose, throat or ear infection. Find out what could be causing your discomfort so you can get relief.
How a Nose or Throat Infection Can Cause Ear Pain When Swallowing
When germs enter your nose and throat, small pads of immune tissue in the back of the nasal passage called adenoids grow larger to keep you from getting sick. Sometimes, especially in children, adenoids grow so large that they block the eustachian tube which connects the middle ear to the upper throat, leading to a painful ear infection. If adenoid problems lead to ear infections often, your doctor may recommend removing the adenoids.
Another possible cause for your ear pain when swallowing could be from tonsillitis. The tonsils, located in the back of your throat, have the important job of trapping germs but sometimes become infected themselves. When this happens, they become red and swollen and can cause a severe sore throat, fever, and ear pain. Tonsillitis can be viral or bacterial, so see your doctor to discuss whether antibiotics are necessary. If left untreated, tonsillitis can lead to a peritonsillar abscess, a painful pustular growth that may require surgical removal.
How an Ear Infection Can Cause Pain When Swallowing
Ear infections can develop when you have a virus, a sinus infection, or allergies. While the eustachian tubes normally drain fluid from the ears, these tubes can become clogged and cause fluid to build up in the ears, leading to ear pain and pressure. When you yawn, sneeze or swallow, the tubes open up to relieve that pressure, which can be painful. Call your ENT doctor if you experience ear pain for a week along with a fever or drainage from the ear.
Other Possible Reasons for Your Ear Pain
Ear pain when swallowing can sometimes be a result of a jaw or dental problem.
In temporomandibular joint dysfunction, the jaw bone becomes misaligned with the skull, resulting in ear pain as well as discomfort when chewing and swallowing. This problem can happen from grinding teeth or clenching the jaw, so your doctor or dentist may advise you on ways to stop.
You may also feel pain in the ear if you have a dental abscess, a bacterial infection in the teeth and gums. A dentist can remove the abscess to prevent further infection.
A Sound Health Doctor Can Determine Why Your Ear Hurts When You Swallow
If you’ve been experiencing pain in your ear when swallowing and can’t figure out why, call Sound Health to make an appointment to see an ENT Doctor. Our skilled physicians will discuss your symptoms and perform a thorough examination to offer a solution to your discomfort. Call our office at (314) 332-1377 in MO or (618) 235-3687 in IL.
If your doctor has discovered nasal polyps after sinus surgery, he or she may recommend an endoscopic procedure as an alternative to added surgery. The SINUVA Sinus Implant is proven to shrink nasal polyps and reduce nasal obstruction and congestion. As a result, patients can breathe easier and live more comfortably.
How Does SINUVA Work?
During a routine office visit, your doctor will first numb your sinuses with topical or local anesthesia. Next, they will insert a tiny implant into the sinus cavity through the nasal opening (the procedure takes 30-40 minutes). The sinus implant delivers an anti-inflammatory steroid called mometasone furoate into your sinuses to shrink nasal polyps and open the sinus cavity. Patients usually don’t feel SINUVA once it’s in place. Your doctor can remove the sinus implant after 90 days or it may come out on its own as it softens.
What Are the Advantages of SINUVA?
Patients who suffer from chronic sinusitis even after sinus surgery are often told to use a steroid nasal spray to open the sinus cavity. However, nasal polyps can block the nasal spray from getting through. SINUVA shrinks the polyps so the spray can get through to its target area. This allows for reduced congestion, improved sense of smell, and a reduced need for another sinus surgery.
Are There Any Side Effects to This Sinus Implant?
In two clinical trials with 400 patients, SINUVA resulted in a very low rate of side effects. The most common being asthma (4.7%), headaches (3.5%), and nose bleeds (2.4%). These side effects are no more likely than those happening after sinus surgery.
Ask Your Sound Health Doctor If SINUVA Is Right for You
If you are aware that you have nasal polyps and have not discussed surgery alternatives with your doctor, ask Sound Health about the SINUVA sinus implant. We can tell you whether you are a candidate for the procedure. In addition, we will discuss what type of coverage your insurance will provide. Give us a call today at (314) 332-1377 in MO or (618) 235-3687 in IL.
For more information about SINUVA, visit www.SINUVA.com. For education and resources on chronic sinusitis and chronic sinusitis treatment options, visit www.MySinusitis.com.
Mucus has the important job of trapping germs in order to keep us healthy. We don’t really notice it when it’s at a normal volume and consistency. But when mucus becomes thicker or thinner than usual, it causes a post-nasal drip down the back of the throat that leads to irritation. Find out the reasons for this type of sinus drainage and how to stop it.
Common Causes of Post-Nasal Drip
Here are four likely reasons for drainage and how to improve your comfort.
Viruses or Infections
When you have a common cold or the flu, you’re likely to produce excess mucus that will run down your throat. To thin the mucus, drink plenty of fluids, take decongestants, gargle with salt water and inhale steam. If sinus drainage lasts more than 10 days and becomes thick and cloudy, you should see a doctor since it could be a sinus infection which requires antibiotics.
Post-nasal drip is very common for allergy sufferers. Depending on what you’re allergic to, you can try an antihistamine to help your immune system better tolerate the allergy. You may also be able to avoid situations that expose you to the allergy. This includes staying indoors with closed windows during pollen season and buying a HEPA filter if you’re allergic to the pet dander in your home. But if you don’t know what allergy could be causing excess sinus drainage, you should see an allergist. They may prescribe allergy testing and devise a treatment plan that could include immunotherapy.
Acid Reflux (GERD)
In some cases, post-nasal drip is not from excess mucus. If you have Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, stomach acid can come up into the esophagus and throat and cause a sore throat, hoarse voice, and persistent cough in addition to post-nasal drip. Try sleeping with your upper body elevated to keep the acid from coming up from your stomach, don’t eat right before bedtime. You may want to take Tums or another over the counter antacid, but if your symptoms persist, a doctor can prescribe something to help you stay comfortable.
Some medications increase mucus production, so your sinus drainage may be more noticeable after beginning a new prescription. Try using saline spray and a humidifier to make breathing easier, and avoid dairy since it can thicken mucus. It’s important to avoid taking other medications such as antihistamines or decongestants without discussing them first with your doctor.
Deviated Septum or Another Structural Abnormality
If bones or cartilage in your nose are causing sinuses to drain faster than normal, you will notice post-nasal drip. An otolaryngologist (ENT) can discuss ways to manage your sinus drainage as well as perform an exam to determine if corrective surgery can help.
Sound Health ENT Physicians Can Help You Mange Sinus Drainage Problems
Constant post-nasal drip can be annoying and uncomfortable. If you can’t control your sinus drainage with home remedies, call our office to make an appointment with one of our doctors at (314) 332-1377 in MO or (618) 235-3687 in IL.
Have you or your kids been experiencing nosebleeds, headaches, or a sore throat? It may be due to dry sinuses – just one more unpleasant ENT problem brought on by winter. There are many at-home remedies you can try to alleviate your symptoms, but you’ll need to see a doctor if it’s turned into a sinus infection. Find out how to treat your dry sinuses and when to seek medical help.
Symptoms of Dry Sinuses
Your sinuses rely on the right amount of mucus in order to function properly. When you don’t produce enough mucus, your nasal cavity becomes dried out, leading to uncomfortable symptoms such as:
• Sinus pressure
• Sore throat
• Dry nose and mouth
Causes of Dry Sinuses in Winter
There are several reasons dry sinuses are more prevalent in winter, including:
Dry Indoor Air
When the furnace is running, humidity levels in your home start to drop. This is why a lot of nosebleeds and sinus infections happen this time of year.
Decongestants and Antihistamines
Since so many germs are circulated in winter months, many people get colds and other respiratory illnesses and often take medications to dry out excess mucus. But antihistamines, decongestants, and some prescription medications can dry out the sinuses too much.
Chemical Cleaning Products
When it’s cold outside, we don’t open windows to ventilate the air while we’re cleaning. No ventilation means irritating chemicals stay in the air we breathe and can cause dry sinuses.
Spending more time indoors also means more time with dogs or cats, and if you’re allergic to dander, you’ll definitely notice symptoms that affect your nose and throat.
Your damp, humid basement and bathroom are perfect breeding areas for mold this time of year, and if you’re allergic, you’re more likely to experience dry sinuses along with other symptoms like coughing and itchy eyes.
Complications of Dry Sinuses
Not only are dry sinuses painful and annoying, but they can also lead to sinus infections after prolonged irritation. You can suspect you have a sinus infection if you have:
There are many ways you can treat dry sinuses at home to alleviate discomfort, such as:
• Using a humidifier in your room at night or installing a whole house humidifier
• Asking your doctor or pharmacist for an allergy or cold medication that won’t dry out your sinuses
• Lubricating sinuses with nasal spray
• Staying hydrated
• Switching to natural household cleaners and opening windows to let fresh air in
You’ll need to see a doctor if you are unable to get relief on your own. An ENT doctor may recommend the following treatments:
• If he suspects your symptoms are due to allergies, he’ll test you for mold or pet dander allergies and may recommend allergy medications or shots.
• If your dry sinuses are due to a sinus infection, he will prescribe antibiotics.
Sound Health Physicians Treat Sinus Infections Throughout the Year
Winter viruses and dry sinuses often lead to sinusitis. If you’re dealing with sinus pain and discomfort that won’t go away, call Sound Health to schedule an appointment at (314) 332-1377 in MO or (618) 235-3687 in IL. We’ll help you feel better so you can enjoy the rest of the season.
It seems like every year as soon as cold weather sets in, many of us notice a sore throat, stuffy nose, and cough. Some illnesses are quite common during winter months and just need to run their course, but there are some that require medical attention. Read on to know which symptoms to look for and when you should call a doctor.
Colds are extremely common in winter, especially in children who are exposed to lots of germs in school. The average cold causes a buildup of mucus that results in a stuffy or runny nose, ear pressure, and a cough from drainage running down the back of the throat. Since a cold is viral, it can’t be cured by antibiotics but will go away on its own in 7-10 days, and is usually not severe enough to keep you from going to work or school. Cold symptoms include:
• nasal congestion
• sore throat
• low fever (in some cases)
The flu can knock you down quickly and leave you there for up to a week or longer. This no-cure virus attacks the respiratory system and causes more severe symptoms than a cold, making it hard to even get out of bed much less complete normal daily tasks. Influenza is highly contagious, so doctors recommend getting a flu shot each year to avoid becoming infected. While antibiotics don’t work, antiviral medications can shorten duration of symptoms by a day or two if you take them right away. Flu symptoms include:
If you have a severe sore throat that isn’t accompanied by cold symptoms, it may be caused by streptococcus – or strep throat. It’s a bacterial infection, and without antibiotics can lead to complications such as rheumatic fever, middle ear infections, abscess on the tonsils, and more. Your doctor can diagnose strep throat with a rapid strep swab and provide a prescription to cure the infection and avoid spreading it to others. Strep throat symptoms include:
• fever of 101 or higher
• severe sore throat
• red, swollen tonsils, sometimes with white patches on them
• stomach ache or vomiting
• swollen lymph nodes
When you’ve had a cold but notice that respiratory symptoms are becoming more severe, it could be due to a bacterial infection called pneumonia. It causes fluid or pus to fill the air sacs in your lungs, resulting in a severe cough and trouble breathing. If not treated with antibiotics, it can lead to life-threatening complications especially in babies, young kids and seniors. Pneumonia symptoms include:
• chest pain when breathing or coughing
• a cough that produces thick phlegm
• shortness of breath
• a high fever and chills (or a low body temperature for patients older than 65)
• nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
• shortness of breath
Avoid Common Winter Illnesses and Seek Medical Help from Sound Health ENT Doctors When Needed
Germs will always circulate quickly in colder months, but you should do all you can to prevent them from infecting your family. Remind everyone in your household to wash hands frequently, not to eat or drink after others, and to avoid being around others who are sick. If you are experiencing symptoms of strep throat, influenza or pneumonia, be sure to call us for an appointment at (314) 332-1377 in MO or (618) 235-3687 in IL.
Have you noticed small white or yellow formations in the pockets of your tonsils? When you pick them out, they may have an unpleasant odor. These are most likely tonsil stones, and they can range from rice-sized to grape-sized. They rarely cause health problems, but since they can cause bad breath it’s a good idea to find out how to prevent them.
What Causes Tonsil Stones?
It’s easy for debris such as food particles, mucus, and saliva to settle into the tiny pits and crevices in your tonsils. When that debris gets trapped and hardens, it forms tonsil stones which bacteria and fungi like to feed on – resulting in really bad breath. Some people are more susceptible to tonsil stones than others, such as those who don’t brush their teeth often, those with chronic sinus issues, and those with large tonsils.
What Are Symptoms of Tonsil Stones?
Along with the hardened debris in your tonsils, tonsil stones are sometimes accompanied by bad breath, a sore throat, trouble swallowing, ear pain and a chronic cough.
How Can I Prevent Tonsil Stones?
Since tonsil stones cause bad breath, you should do all you can to keep them from forming. You can prevent them by:
• Using your toothbrush to clean the bacteria off the back of your tongue
• Quitting smoking
• Staying hydrated
• Gargling with salt water
How Should I Remove Tonsil Stones?
While tonsil stones themselves aren’t usually harmful, you’ll want to remove them to get rid of bad breath and pain, and to eliminate the possibility of an infection or abscess. It’s never safe to pick at your tonsils with your fingernail or a toothbrush, as this can cause damage to the delicate tonsil tissue. Instead, try these home remedies:
• Gargle with salt water to dislodge the tonsil stones and get rid of the odor tonsil stones can cause. Use ½ teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water.
• Use a water pick to gently spray the tonsil stones out of their crevices.
• Cough to loosen the tonsil stones.
What If Tonsil Stones Become a Chronic Problem?
If stones tend to grow larger than most and cause a lot of pain, your ENT may recommend minimally invasive procedures to get rid of the crevices where stones tend to form. Laser tonsil cryptolysis uses a laser, while coblation cryptolysis involves radio waves that transform a salt solution into charged ions, and the ions cut through tissue to eliminate the tiny pockets.
Some doctors will use antibiotics to manage tonsil stones since they can lower bacteria counts that lead to their growth. In severe cases when no other treatment works, doctors may recommend a tonsillectomy.
Talk to a Sound Health Physician if Tonsil Stones Are Causing Your Bad Breath
Find out how you can eliminate tonsil stones to make your breath smell better. Call our offices at (314) 332-1377 in MO or (618) 235-3687 in IL.