Are you concerned that your daytime exhaustion could be due to this sleep disorder?
Sleep apnea is more common than you might think and it could be what’s making your sleep less than sound. If you are a loud, chronic snorer or if you experience daytime fatigue most days of the week then our Port St. Lucie, Fort Pierce, and Okeechobee, FL, otolaryngologists - Dr. Leslie Berghash, Dr. John Lanza, and Dr. Camysha Wright - are here to tell you why you may just want to get this issue checked out immediately. Discover everything you could ever wish to know about sleep apnea.
Q. What is sleep apnea?
A. This sleep disorder is characterized by pauses in breath, or shallow breathing, throughout the course of the night. When this occurs this means that the brain and the body aren’t getting the proper amount of oxygen they need. The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea, in which the tissues in the back of the throat collapse and block the airways.
Q. What are the warning signs?
A. The most common warning sign of sleep apnea is chronic and excessive fatigue. This exhaustion occurs the moment you wake up and lasts all day long. You may find it difficult to concentrate at work or you may nod off at your desk or behind the wheel during your daily commute.
You may also notice that you are more irritable and prone to mood swings and that your memory is a bit hazy. Many people with sleep apnea are also very loud snorers. In some cases, the partner of the sleep apnea sufferer may even notice the person waking up in the middle of the night gasping for air.
Q. How can sleep apnea affect my health?
A. If sleep apnea is left untreated it can greatly increase your risk for a variety of long-term and serious health problems such as:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Heart attack
- Heart disease
Q. How is sleep apnea diagnosed?
A. If our Port St. Lucie, Fort Pierce, and Okeechobee ENT doctor suspects that you have sleep apnea, you will have to undergo a sleep study where a medical technician will monitor you while you sleep to look for patterns and signs of sleep apnea.
Q. How is this sleep disorder treated?
A. The most common treatment option for sleep apnea is CPAP therapy, in which a mask is worn over the nose and mouth to deliver pressurized air to keep the airways from collapsing while you sleep. If your obstructive sleep apnea is mild, you may only need to wear a simple oral appliance at night.
If you suspect that you might be dealing with sleep apnea, or if you are just having trouble falling or staying asleep, then it’s time to sit down with the ENT specialists at South Coast Ear, Nose & Throat. We offer locations in Port St. Lucie, Fort Pierce, and Okeechobee, FL.
Find out if those symptoms of vertigo could be due to problems with the ear.
There are many reasons why you may feel dizzy. Maybe you got up too quickly or you’ve been in a rush all day and realized you haven’t eaten. Of course, there are certain times when the dizziness or spinning you’re feeling is due to an issue within the vestibular system, the system within the ear that is responsible for spatial orientation and balance. Find out when you should turn to an otolaryngologist to treat your symptoms of vertigo.
In order to diagnose your dizziness, there are several diagnostic tests that may be conducted. Your ENT doctor will go through your medical history and then perform a physical examination. We will ask you questions regarding the symptoms you are experiencing and when you experience them. A hearing test is one of the most common procedures performed because it’s the best way to test your balance and the inner ear.
There are many problems that could be to blame for your dizziness including:
- Problems or disorders within the inner ear
- Central nervous system disorders
- High blood pressure
- Bacterial or viral infections
- Side effects of certain medication
Dizziness can be treatable, it’s just important to be able to determine the root cause so we know the best approach for treating your symptoms. So, when should you see an ear, nose and throat doctor regarding your dizziness? You should contact an ENT specialist if:
- Your primary care doctor has not been able to determine the cause of your dizziness
- You are experiencing hearing loss, hearing changes or ringing in the ears
- There is pressure or fullness in the ear or ears
Common ENT causes of dizziness and vertigo include:
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV): caused by the displacement of crystals within the inner eye
- Meniere’s disease: an imbalance of fluid within the inner ear
- Labyrinthitis: inflammation or infection with the inner ear (can cause hearing loss if left untreated)
- Vestibular neuritis: a viral infection of the vestibular nerve
One of the first tests a doctor will perform is an eye movement test that will check for issues within the inner ear (vestibular system). From there, your doctor will create a treatment plan based on the cause. Common treatment options include:
- Medication to reduce motion sickness and nausea from vertigo
- Canalith repositioning procedure: a technique that helps reposition the crystals within the inner ears (for treating BPPV)
- Migraine medications (to treat Meniere’s disease and vestibular migraines)
- Rehabilitation and exercises to improve balance
- Surgery (in rare cases)
If you’ve been dealing with severe or persistent dizziness then it’s time to contact an ENT doctor to find out what’s going on.
It started as a small itch, but now it’s completely bloomed into a sore throat. Do you know the best way to treat it? No matter the cause, your doctor can help you alleviate the pain.
What Could Be Causing Your Sore Throat
The first step in figuring out how to treat your sore throat is determining its source. A sore throat can be a symptom of many different issues, such as smoking or allergies, but the three most common causes are—
A cold: Often, a sore throat is just the first sign of a viral cold. You’ll know if this is the case for you if the pain subsides after a day or two and if you begin exhibiting other cold symptoms, like a runny nose or cough.
Strep throat: Caused by an infection of the streptococcus bacteria passed through saliva and nasal secretions, strep throat is a more severe cause of a sore throat. Other symptoms common to it are white spots on your throat area, fever, and swollen lymph nodes in your neck.
Tonsillitis: This is a very painful sore throat caused by an inflammation of the tonsils from an infection by viruses or bacteria. Tonsillitis’s biggest additional symptom is swollen tonsils with white or yellow spots, but others are bad breath and an impaired voice from the swelling.
What You Can Do at Home
If your sore throat is caused by a virus, there isn’t much you can do other than let the virus run its course. But no matter what is causing your sore throat, there are steps you can take at home to ease your pain and help you get better, including:
∙ Get plenty of sleep and avoid speaking more than necessary
∙ Drink lots of fluids to keep your throat moist and you hydrated. Just avoid dehydrating liquids like coffee and alcohol.
∙ Stick to soothing foods and beverages. This includes warm liquids like soup or water with honey and cool treats like Jell-O or ice cream.
∙ Gargle with saltwater—¼–½tspn sea salt to 4–8oz warm water.
Lozenges and over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can also help alleviate a sore throat, but be cautious if you’re treating your child.
Treatment from Your Doctor
You should see your doctor as soon as possible if you are dealing with a severe or persistent sore throat. A rapid strep test is often needed to diagnose strep throat, and only your doctor can tell for sure if you have tonsillitis and if it is from a bacteria or virus. If the cause of a sore throat is bacteria, your doctor will prescribe you antibiotics like penicillin or amoxicillin to kill it. Always take all of the medication as prescribed, even if you already feel better, and stay home until 24 hours after starting the antibiotic.
Sore throats can definitely be painful but they don’t have to be frustrating or a cause for worry. If you have any questions or concerns about a sore throat or any other symptoms, don’t hesitate to call your doctor today.
For those who deal with sinusitis, or a sinus infection, symptoms usually go away in a week or so. Unfortunately, sometimes this infection can last 12 weeks or longer, resulting in chronic sinusitis. If you are dealing with severe or chronic sinusitis and symptoms don’t go away with at-home treatment then it might be time to discuss with your otolaryngologist whether you could benefit from balloon sinuplasty, a simple non-surgical treatment.
Balloon sinuplasty is a great option for someone dealing with chronic sinusitis that isn’t responding to other treatment options but doesn’t want to immediately turn to traditional sinus surgery. Balloon sinuplasty treats the symptoms associated with chronic sinusitis without incisions or needing to cut the bone or tissue within the nasal cavity.
Instead of making an incision, your ENT doctor will place a small flexible tube with a deflated balloon at the end into the sinus cavity. Once inside, the balloon is carefully inflated until it opens up the inflamed or blocked sinus, allowing it to properly drain. A special saline solution will also be sprayed into the nasal cavity to remove any mucus buildup. Once the sinuses are completely clear your doctor will remove the system. Even once the system is removed the once inflamed and blocked cavity will stay open. This procedure can be performed right in your ENT specialist’s office and you can go home right after.
Unlike traditional sinus surgery, balloon sinuplasty is minimally invasive and doesn’t require extensive downtime. In fact, most patients were able to return to work and their daily activities within 2-3 days. Since there is no cutting or incisions required with balloon sinuplasty, you will also experience less bleeding and fewer post-treatment side effects.
So, how do you know whether or not balloon sinuplasty is the right way to handle your chronic sinus issues? If you’ve been dealing with a sinus infection that has lasted more than 12 weeks and isn’t responding to other treatment options then it might be time to weigh the pros and cons of treatment. You may want to consider this sinus treatment if you are dealing with severe or persistent:
- Facial pain and pressure
- Nasal discharge
- Loss of or reduced smell
Those dealing with recurring sinus infections throughout the year should also consider getting balloon sinuplasty to reduce the likelihood for future sinus infections. Many people who’ve gotten this sinus treatment are still experiencing relief two years after their balloon sinuplasty. If you are dealing with chronic or severe sinus infections regularly it’s time to turn to an ear, nose, and throat specialist.
Ear infections can be quite the nuisance, particularly if it’s something that your little one deals with often. While anyone can develop ear infections, babies and young children are at an increased risk for ear infections. Since children’s Eustachian tubes (a structure that connects the middle ear with the pharynx, the cavity that lies behind the nose and mouth) aren’t fully developed it makes it easier for factors such as a common cold to lead to blocked Eustachian tubes and ear infections.
If there is a family history of ear infections, if your child is exposed to secondhand smoke or if your child develops colds and flus regularly then they may be at an increased risk for an ear infection. The most common types of ear infections are a middle ear infection, swimmer’s ear (which affects the outer ear canal), and labyrinthitis (causes inflammation of the inner ear or nerves of the inner ear).
Of course, babies and toddlers won’t be able to tell you that they are experiencing ear pain; however, there are other signs to look out for, including:
- Tugging or pulling at the ear
- Drainage coming from the ear
- Increased irritability or crying more often
- Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
- Increased fussiness or clinginess
- Lack of energy
If your child is displaying any of these symptoms it’s a good idea to take them in to see their pediatrician. Of course, if your child is often dealing with recurring or severe ear infections, visiting an otolaryngologist might be the best medical professional to help you figure out what’s causing these frequent infections and how to put a stop to them.
Of course, adults may also face ear infections. You may wake up in the middle of the night with an ear that is throbbing and painful. If this is the case, turning to an ENT doctor can help alleviate your symptoms. Depending on the type and severity of you or your little one’s ear infection, an ENT specialist will tell you whether or not antibiotics will be necessary for fighting the infection.
Taking over-the-counter pain relievers and applying a warm compress to the ear can also help you manage your discomfort until the ear infection goes away. Leaving an ear infection untreated is never a good idea, as it can lead to complications such as hearing loss. This is why it’s important that you or your child receive the proper medical attention necessary if you suspect an ear infection.
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