Posts for: January, 2014
If you have ever uttered the above statement, you know how disabling it can be to loose your voice. The voice, sadly, is under-appreciated. People just don’t realize how much they need it until it is gone!
This time of year, laryngitis (inflammation of the larynx) is quite common. Usually, it is caused by infections from viruses or secondary to their effects on the nose and throat. If you have been sick with a cold or laryngitis, the most important thing to do is to stay well hydrated and well rested. Avoid catching up with your BFF who you haven’t seen in 20 years on the telephone, this will only cause strain on your voice which can lead to further damage (maybe just send an email instead!).
Voice Rest = No Talking (at least as little as possible)
When should you seek medical care? When the hoarseness lasts more than one week, is getting worse, or you have any other symptoms such as pain or difficulty swallowing, difficulty breathing, or a neck mass. In addition, if you use your voice professionally (singers, teachers, professors, etc.), it is even more important to make sure that you regain your function and preserve your voice, so don’t hesitate to make an appointment. The marvels of modern medicine now allow us to actually look at your vocal cords in the office. With the use of a tiny scope, we are able to look for common problems such as vocal cord nodules, benign growths from chronic irritation, other lesions such as polyps or cysts, and even more dangerous lesions such as cancer.
Great Hills ENT serves the greater Austin area including Georgetown, Cedar Park, Lago Vista, Jonestown, Steiner Ranch, Lakeway, Spicewood and Point Venture. We are proud to provide excellent care to our patients for general Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) services, hearing loss, hearing aids, tinnitus solutions, dizziness/vertigo and sleep disorders.
Michael Jackson really didn’t sing that one. But we do sing the Central Texas blues around the end of every year due to the clouds of “cedar” pollen billowing up from those trees. Ash Juniper, Cedar’s real name, is not a native Texas species. It was imported to provide wind breaks for the prairie houses of early settlers. Unfortunately for those of us who are allergic, those trees took off and now dominate the landscape in some places. Dense clouds of yellow Cedar pollen and millions of dollars of health care dollars are the result.
Treatment is usually an over-the-counter affair. Antihistamines, particularly the non-sedating ones like loratidine (Claritin®), cetirizine (Zyrtec®), and fexofenadine (Allegra®), are very effective. Anti-itch eye drops (ketotifin) are also available to can keep that symptom at bay. Don’t forget nasal saline irrigation. A Neti-Pot or sinus rinse system can go a long way in controlling your nasal symptoms. However, there are times when these meds are not enough and a trip to your doctor is in order.
At Great Hills ENT, we frequently see people in the throes of cedar agony. Treatments are available to stop the symptoms and the complications of severe allergy. Nasal steroids, nasal antihistamines, combo nasal sprays, prescription eye drops, and steroids are usually successful additions to your over-the-counter. We also partner with many allergists in town if testing and desensitization is on your agenda.
Make an appointment see us if Cedar is making your life miserable. We can help!
Mark T. Brown, MD, FACS
Dr. Mark Brown is an Otolaryngologist (Ear, Nose and Throat) specialist at Great Hills ENT in Austin, TX. Dr. Brown is Board Certified in both Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery as well as Sleep Medicine. Great Hills ENT serves the greater Austin area including Georgetown, Cedar Park, Lago Vista, Jonestown, Steiner Ranch, Lakeway, Spicewood and Point Venture. We are proud to provide excellent care to our patients for general Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) services, hearing loss, dizziness/vertigo and sleep disorders.
After walking into our clinic this morning and hearing the sounds coming from one of our staff member's cars I felt compelled to write this blog. It occured to me that everyone could benefit from knowing how to protect their hearing, including the staff of Great Hills Ear, Nose & Throat!
It seems that many people do not think about protecting their hearing. We are exposed damaging noise every day. Concerts, car stereos, iPods set above 50% volume, and in Texas guns provide plenty of potentially damaging sound. Ladies, even your hair dryer is too loud! It is interesting trivia that hair dyers and vacuum cleaners are the leading causes of noise-induced hearing loss in women.
At Great Hills ENT we see many of you when it is too late. The damage has already been done, resulting in tinnitus and/or permanent hearing loss. Wear your hearing protection properly so that you preserve your connections to your world.
If you work around power tools like jack hammers or jet engines you need to double your protection. Ear plugs and muffs are required if your noise exposure is at or above 105dB.
Regardless of which protection you choose, it is of little value if not worn properly. If you wear glasses or sport a Duck Dynasty beard you may not get a great seal with ear muffs. Plugs may be a better choice for protection from routine sound exposures.
Foam ear plugs must be inserted correctly for them to work properly, they should be squeezed and rolled into a very thin cylinder, as small as possible. Pull up and back on your ear, like your mom used to do to you when you were in trouble, with the opposite hand. This opens your ear canal. Then slide the ear plug into your ear canal and hold it there for about 15-20 seconds allowing the plug to expand into your ear. See below for a visual.
If the foam plugs are not an option due to a latex allergy, or if you prefer a more custom solution the Audiology Department is able to make custom hearing protection for you. This requires that a mold me made of your ear and made to fit your ear. If this is something you might be interested in schedule an appointment with Dr. Peterson.
The take home message is this: Protect your hearing. Once it’s gone it doesn’t come back. We can not repair or regenerate the cells in your ear. So you have one of two options: 1) avoid damaging noise 2) use protection in noisy situations .
Prevention is so simple and cheap. An ear plug or muff used now is much smarter than paying for an expensive hearing aid or tinnitus solution later. If you ask me, I’ll take the cheap ear plug.
The Audiology Department at Great Hills ENT in Austin, TX specializes in hearing related disorders including tinnitus and hearing loss, neurophysiological disorders as well as dizziness/balance disorders. Great Hills ENT serves the greater Austin area including Georgetown, Cedar Park, Lago Vista, Jonestown, Steiner Ranch, Lakeway, Spicewood and Point Venture. We are proud to provide excellent care to our patients for general Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) services, hearing loss, hearing aids, dizziness/vertigo and sleep disorders.