Noise: The Effect it Has on Your Health

Many of us know that prolonged exposure to a noisy environment can lead to hearing loss. But researchers found out that noise can also affect our health in other ways.

How noise affects our health?
In several studies, it shows that regular exposure to loud noise is associated with cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension and high blood cholesterol.

One research revealed that there’s a higher rate of hypertension and high blood cholesterol among workers who had a history of occupational noise exposure.

Workers who are constantly exposed to loud noise aren’t the only ones at risk for noise-related health issues. Even people living in a noisy environment can be affected by it.

A 2018 study published by the International Journal of Cardiology showed that people who are constantly exposed to environmental noise (e.g. construction vehicle engines, horns in the neighborhood) had a higher risk of atrial fibrillation.

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is an irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, and heart failure.

Being in a noisy environment can also get into the way of your much-needed rest. For years, researchers have shown how lack of sleep can lead to obesity and consequently, to diabetes and heart disease.

Loud, noisy environments can also pose a challenge in making healthier food choices.

In a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, it shows that people tend to buy healthier food when they are in a low-noise environment.

Tuning up the noise tends to have an opposite effect on consumers. People tend to purchase unhealthy food when the volume of the noise is cranked up.

Several other studies also show that people tend to drink and eat more in a noisy environment.

Can noise also affect children’s health?
A noisy environment can have an adverse effect on children’s health.

It can interfere with the child’s speech and language development, impair learning and hearing, disrupt sleep, and cause cardiovascular issues.

Minimizing exposure to noise is one of the simplest ways you can do for your health. If your work involves the use of loud, heavy machinery, using hearing protection device can help minimize your risk of hearing loss and other noise-related health issues.

If you’re experiencing problems with your ears and/or hearing, seeing a specialist can keep it from getting worse. Greater Knoxville ENT has specialists who can help you. To request an appointment, you may call us at (865) 244-4396.

What People with Asthma Need to Know About Face Masks

The United States has one of the highest numbers of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the world. As of this writing, the country has over 3 million confirmed cases and over 140,000 deaths.

With the continuous surge of COVID-19 cases, many states and establishments are requiring people to wear masks in public.

Even with social distancing, why do we have to wear masks?
Several studies have shown that many people infected with COVID-19 don’t show symptoms. For those who are symptomatic, they’ve already been infected a few days before they start showing the symptoms.

For these reasons, experts believe that wearing a mask can help prevent the further spread of the virus. This is critically important especially in places where there’s a chance of being in close contact with other people (e.g. shopping).

How about people with asthma? Would wearing masks exacerbate their condition?
There are certain conditions on which wearing a mask may not be appropriate. CDC does not recommend wearing a face covering to the following groups:

  • Children under 2 years of age
  • People who have difficulty breathing
  • People who are unconscious or people who don’t have the ability to remove the mask by themselves

As for people with asthma, wearing a face-covering may not be an issue if it’s just mild or controlled. However, it might be an issue if you have severe asthma attacks that have frequent exacerbations.

If conventional face coverings can be an issue for you, try wearing a mask made of different fabric or fit. If it’s still an issue for you, you can protect yourself from COVID-19 in several ways:

  • Stay home as much as possible.
  • For groceries, you may want to try home delivery services.
  • Avoid going out unless it’s really necessary.
  • When going out, keep a distance from other people (about at least 6 feet).
  • Avoid being in close contact with people who are sick.
  • Wash your hands often.

Asthma attacks can be fatal. If you’re experiencing symptoms of severe asthma attacks, please seek medical attention immediately.

Greater Knoxville ENT has specialists who have years of experience in diagnosing and treating conditions of the ears, nose, and throat. To request an appointment, you may call us at (865) 244-4396.


When to See an ENT

When you have a problem specific to your ears, nose, or throat, you may have to see a specialist. In this case, it’s an ENT doctor or otolaryngologist.

How can an ENT doctor help you?
An ENT doctor can help diagnose and treat conditions that involve the ears, nose, and throat. Some of the conditions an ENT doctor can help you with include:

When you think you’re having an allergic reaction, seeing an ENT specialist can help.

He/she can determine the cause of your allergies and prescribe the most appropriate treatment option for you.

Balance disorders
Our sense of balance is controlled by the tiny structures found in the inner ear. So when you’re having problems with your balance, you may be referred to an ENT doctor to determine the cause of it.

Hearing problems
ENTs work closely with audiologists to determine the cause of hearing loss and recommend the most suitable intervention.

Ear problems
Whether it’s an infection or impacted cerumen, an ENT doctor can help with these problems.

Sinus problems
A sinus problem, especially a chronic one, can greatly affect your quality of life if it’s not treated.

An ENT specialist can help identify the severity of the condition and provide the most appropriate treatment option.

Diseases of the larynx
ENTs can diagnose and treat diseases involving the larynx, including cancers that involve the throat and mouth.

Speech and swallowing disorders
With speech and swallowing disorders, ENTs work closely with speech-language pathologists. Together, they help determine the cause of such issues and treat them.

ENTs can also do surgeries to correct issues or problems involving the ears, nose, and throat.

They can do tonsillectomies (removal of the tonsils), myringotomies (insertion of ear tubes), sinus surgeries, and nasal polypectomy (removal of nasal polyps).

Greater Knoxville ENT has a team of specialists who diagnose and treat conditions of the ears, nose, and throat. We take pride in the quality of care we provide to our patients.

If you are experiencing problems with your ears, nose, or throat, you can request an appointment with us by calling (865) 244-4396.


Vocal Cord Injuries

Have you been experiencing hoarseness or raspiness in your voice for more than two weeks? If you are, it’s time to book an appointment with a specialist. It could be a case of vocal cord injury.

What are vocal cord injuries?
Vocal cord injuries are disorders affecting the vocal cords. The vocal cords are the two bands of smooth muscle tissue that can be found in the larynx (also known as our windpipe). They play an important role in producing the sound of your voice.

Most cases of vocal cord injuries are a result of misuse or abuse. Here are some of the most common vocal cord disorders:

Also known as the inflammation of the vocal cords, laryngitis occurs as a result of infections, excessive use of the voice, irritants, and GERD.

The most distinct symptom of the condition is the raspiness or hoarseness of the voice.

Vocal cord paralysis
Vocal cord paralysis happens when one of the vocal cords doesn’t open or function properly. It can be a result of head, neck, or chest injury, lung or thyroid cancer, stroke, or viral infection.

Vocal cord paralysis can be a life-threatening condition, especially that food and water could get into trachea and lungs.

Vocal polyps
Vocal polyps are non-cancerous growths in the vocal cords. It can cause your voice to get low and breathy.

How are vocal cord injuries diagnosed and treated?
Aside from hoarseness or changes in the voice that lasts for more than 2 weeks, specialists are also looking into the condition of the vocal cords themselves to pinpoint the cause.

To determine the condition of the vocal cords, a specialist may perform tests such as laryngoscopy and laryngeal electromyography.

Treatment for vocal cord injuries vary, depending on the cause, severity of the condition, your age, your overall health condition, and your preference.

In some cases, you may have to start with more conservative measures such as resting your voice and/or avoiding irritants. Depending on your injury, you may be prescribed with medicines or be recommended for surgery.

Greater Knoxville ENT has specialists who can look into your condition, identify the cause of your injury, and recommend the most suitable treatment option for you.

To request an appointment, you may call us at (865) 521-8050.


Tips for Traveling with Asthma

Traveling with asthma can pose some challenges. But with the right planning and preparation, you can have a less stressful trip. Here are some things that can help:

Schedule an appointment with your specialist
If you’re traveling with asthma, schedule an appointment with your physician/specialist should be one of your initial steps.

Aside from doing your regular physicals, which will help you determine if you’re fit for travel, your physician can help you identify your triggers and warn you of things or situations to watch out for.

Seeing your doctor can also help you create your Asthma Action Plan, an action plan for asthma emergencies.

Research your destination diligently
When you have asthma, things like sudden weather changes, smoke, dust, and pollen can trigger an asthma attack. So it pays off to do your due diligence in researching your destination.

Strategize where you’ll be staying
Scoring a good deal on your accommodation isn’t good enough if you have asthma. You have to consider the cleanliness of the room and whether it is smoke and pet-free (pet dander, dust, and smoke can trigger an attack). On top of that, you have to check its location. Is it close enough to an urgent care center or a hospital that can cater to your needs if you have an asthma attack? These things are worth considering.

Have an asthma travel kit
Even if you already pack the prescription drugs that’ll last you throughout the whole duration of your trip, it’s still important to have a backup. That’s what your asthma travel kit is for.

This kit may contain a mask, nightly pills, nebulizers, antihistamines, and anything asthma-related (better be safe and ready!). This can be your life-saver when you run out of your prescription meds or when your luggage gets lost.

Create an Asthma Action Plan
An Asthma Action Plan is basically an action plan in case of asthma emergencies. Talking to your doctor can help you plan this out.

What else can you do?
If you’re heading to areas where there is a high risk of exposure to pollen or insect bites, plan to limit your time in that area or bring an insect repellant with you.

If heading to the beach is a part of your itinerary, bring a broad-spectrum sunscreen with you and any sun-protective clothing or items (e.g. hats, umbrellas) especially if you have eczema (sun exposure can make it worse).

If you’re engaging in a highly strenuous activity such as hiking or any form of sport, remember to start with a warm-up and take your quick-relief medication 15 to 20 minutes before you begin. Exercise in itself can trigger an asthma attack.

Greater Knoxville ENT has specialists who have years of experience in assessing and treating people with asthma. Our doctors can assess your condition and help you plan your asthma action plan so you can travel with more ease and less worry.

To schedule an appointment, you may call us at (865) 244-4396.


Breathe Easy Abroad: 6 Tips for Traveling with Asthma

How to Treat Allergies in the Summertime

Allergens don’t recognize seasons. May’s flowers have got you sniffling and sneezing, but just because the month has ended, that doesn’t mean your allergies will suddenly stop. Pollen, mold, and insect stings can trigger allergies during the summer season.

The Culprits of Summer Allergies

Pollen is the biggest culprit of allergy during the summer months. Fresh produce such as apples, melons, and celery can trigger allergy symptoms.

It’s very common for some people to mistake the symptoms as food intolerances so experts suggest seeing an allergist if your symptoms last for more than two weeks.

Weed and Grass
There are certain varieties of weeds and grass that can trigger your allergy symptoms. For the weed, this includes ragweed, sagebrush, cockle weed, and tumbleweed. For the grass, Bermuda, bluegrass, and timothy could trigger allergies.

Critters that sting are more active during the summer months. Insects and bugs like bees, fire ants, wasps, and hornets are known stingers. Their sting can trigger an allergic reaction.

The symptoms can be mild, leading to swelling around the area and itching. In some cases, it can lead to severe allergic reactions, causing your tongue to swell, dizziness, and difficulty breathing. A severe allergic reaction is an emergency situation. In such cases, you shouldn’t delay seeking medical help.

There are tiny things that love the warm air. Molds, for instance, thrive in damp areas like your bathroom and could release spores in the air that can set off an allergic reaction.

There are also these very tiny dust mites that can have residue that can get into the air. This can cause sneezing, runny nose, and wheezing.

Symptoms to Watch Out For
You are most likely having an allergic reaction if you are having runny nose, watery eyes, coughing, sneezing, and itchy eyes and nose. Experts also recommend seeing an allergist as soon as you can if you notice dark circles under your eyes, breathing through your mouth, and a nasal crease.

An allergist can assess your condition, determine your specific triggers, and provide you with the most appropriate treatment.

Greater Knoxville ENT has specialists who can do that. To request an appointment, you may call us at (865) 244-4396.

With the COVID-19 virus outbreak, we are also offering telemedicine for appropriate new and current patients.



Update: 5/1/20

We are open and seeing patients while providing the safest possible environment. In accordance with hospital and CDC guidelines, we are continuing to screen all patients prior to their appointment and are limiting the number of patients for social distancing. We request you do not bring anyone with you to your visit unless you have mobility issues or the patient is a minor.

Our staff is continuing all sterilization protocols and wearing masks. If you have a personal mask or other facial covering (scarf, bandana, etc.), please bring it with you for your appointment. Additional information about facial coverings can also be found here.

ATTENTION PATIENTS: Please read our updated notice on COVID-19.

We are offering telemedicine appointments for appropriate new and current patients during the COVID-19 virus outbreak. If you have ENT-related concerns and a smartphone with access to video and text messaging, you are a candidate for a telemedicine visit. Please call us at (865) 244-4396 or contact us through our patient portal with any questions, concerns, or to schedule an appointment.
Click here to download our Telemedicine Consent Form.

GKENT Allergy Clinics remains dedicated to protecting the health and well-being of our patients and staff. Our allergy clinics are now open with the following hours.

North Office:
Monday- 9am-11:30am and 1:30pm-4:30pm
Tuesday- Thursday- 8:30am-11:30am and 1:30- 4:30pm
Friday- 1:30pm-3:30pm

UT Office:
Monday- Thursday- 8:30am-11:30am and 1:30pm-4:30pm
Friday- 1:30pm-3:30pm

West Office:
Monday- 9:00am-11:30am and 1:30pm-4:30pm
Thursday- 8:30am-11:30am and 1:30pm-4:30pm

AUDIOLOGY PATIENTS: Please read our update here.

COVID-19 and Asthma

People with moderate to severe asthma are at a higher risk of getting very sick from coronavirus disease (better known as COVID-19).

About COVID-19

COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a new virus. It causes respiratory-like symptoms like cough, fever, and fatigue. Some people also experience symptoms like sore throat, stuffy or runny nose, headaches, and nausea, or diarrhea.

The disease is primarily spread through direct contact with an infected person when they sneeze or cough. The problem is, there are people who may be positive for COVID-19 but aren’t showing symptoms or are only showing mild symptoms.

As of this writing, there is no cure or vaccine for COVID-19.

Asthma and COVID-19

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with moderate to severe asthma belong to the high-risk group for COVID-19. If you’re asthmatic, this doesn’t mean though that you’re going to get it. It just increases your odds. 

If you have asthma, both your immune system and respiratory health are compromised. Either is considered a risk factor in itself. Having both can make the outcome of the infection worse. 

It was observed that people with asthma who have been infected with COVID-19 tend to have more severe symptoms compared to those without it.

What to do in this pandemic if you have asthma

If you are asthmatic, it’s important to be well-prepared for COVID-19. This means:

  • Stocking up on supplies
  • Following social distancing protocols
  • Cleaning your hands properly with soap and water or with an alcohol-based sanitizer
  • Avoiding non-essential travel
  • Avoiding crowds
  • Avoiding sick people
  • Avoiding sharing personal household items like cups and towel
  • Keeping your hands away from your face especially on your eyes, nose, and mouth

It’s also important to have an asthma control action plan. These may include steps like:

  • Continuing your current medication, which may include inhalers with steroids
  • Discussing any health and treatment concerns with your healthcare provider 
  • Knowing and avoiding your asthma triggers

If you are having a cough and it’s getting worse, if you’re experiencing difficulty in breathing, or suspecting you have COVID-19, please do not delay in seeking medical help. 

Although there is no treatment for COVID-19 right now, it’s important to be examined so you can receive the appropriate attention immediately.






Important Update for Audiology Patients

We, at Greater Knoxville Ear, Nose, & Throat, know that this time of “distancing” can be especially difficult for our patients who suffer from hearing loss. While we need to distance to keep everyone safe, this practice can be associated with feelings of loneliness and isolation. We want to remind our patients that we are here for you! If you are in need of any service or product related to your hearing or hearing devices, please reach out to our audiology department (865-512-1291), and we will do everything we safely can to help!

Services we are providing to help our patients at this time include: setting up captioned telephone deliveries, assisting in the download of call-to-text smartphone apps, shipping assisted listening devices for the television or for a conversation with others in the home, shipping hearing aid batteries and supplies, and helping with hearing aid repairs over the phone or in-office if needed.

We do offer curbside hearing aid repairs at our Tennova North and UT Medical Center locations. Please contact the audiology department if you would like to set up a curbside repair. Telehealth visits for hearing aid adjustments are available for patients with certain hearing aid technology.

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 and need to be hospitalized, there are some communication tips you can share with your healthcare providers. The providers should make sure they have your attention before speaking to you, face you directly while speaking, avoid background noise when possible, and repeat or re-phrase if you do not understand the first time.

Our office hours have been reduced during this time of distancing, so if you reach our voicemail, please leave a message and we will get back to you as soon as possible. We are wishing safety and health to all our patients and we look forward to seeing you soon!

Can COVID-19 affect your sense of smell and taste?

For the past weeks, some patients who tested positive for the COVID-19 virus have been reported to be experiencing a loss of sense of taste and smell. But does the virus actually cause it?

In an analysis of data collected through a symptom app created by scientists to monitor the pandemic, it now looks like losing the sense of taste and smell could be the best way to tell if someone has the COVID-19.

The scientists use a mathematical model to determine which combination of symptoms, including loss of taste and smell, fever, fatigue, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and persistent cough, are more accurate in predicting the COVID-19 infection. 

Based on the data, it seems like the loss of taste and smell, when combined with other symptoms, provides good predictability if one has the infectious disease.

What to do if you suspect you have COVID-19

If you think you might have the novel coronavirus, it’s important to do the following:


  • Isolate, isolate, isolate


COVID-19 is already a pandemic. You can help prevent the spread by keeping yourself isolated. 

If you don’t live alone, it’s important to stay in a designated “sick” room. If possible, use your own bathroom and avoid sharing eating utensils and personal items like blankets and towels.


  • Rest and hydrate


Unless you’re experiencing difficulty in breathing and other serious symptoms, treat it like you’re having a cold. Get a lot of rest and make sure you’re well-hydrated. 


  • Wear a face mask when around people


We have a shortage of masks right now. So, use it only when you’re around people. 


  • Get help if you need it


If you have kids or need help in getting groceries or other essentials, ask for help from trusted friends and family. Make sure that you and the people helping you are following safety protocols to prevent further spread of the virus. 

When to see a doctor

With the surge of COVID-19 patients in hospitals right now, healthcare workers struggle to find room for everyone. So, unless you’re experiencing the following symptoms, it’s best to stay at home:

  • Constant chest pain or pressure
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Severe dizziness
  • Slurring of speech
  • Difficulty waking up
  • Confusion
  • Bluish lips or face

If you have any of these symptoms, call 911 or seek medical help immediately.

COVID-19 can cause serious complications to certain groups (e.g. asthmatic or have other respiratory health problems, immunocompromised, have heart disease, smoker, diabetic, have kidney disease, over the age of 60). If you are a person at risk, it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider before your symptoms get worse.

Not sure if your symptoms are due to cold, allergies, or COVID-19? Our specialists at Greater Knoxville ENT can help! You may call us at (865) 244-4396.






Is vaping bad for your health?

There has been a rise in the use of vape in recent years, especially among the young people. In one 2018 report, about 37 percent of 12th graders were reported to be vaping. That’s a 9 percent increase, compared with the 27 percent in 2017.

Some people turned to vaping from smoking actual tobacco because the former seems to be less harmful. It may seem like it but vaping is still an unhealthy option

How does vaping work?

Vaping pertains to the act of inhaling vapor created by devices like electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes). 

E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices. They have cartridges for filling liquids that contain nicotine, chemicals, and flavorings.

These devices work by heating the liquid, turning it into a vapor which the user inhales. Hence, using e-cigarettes is also referred to as vaping. 

Why are the health effects of vaping?

Vaping hasn’t been around for too long to have data for its long-term health effects. However, health experts have seen serious lung health issues among those who vape. There are even reports of deaths.

Before you jump into the trend of vaping, here are some facts about it that you should know:

  • It may expose you to fewer chemicals compared to tobacco smoking but it’s still harmful.

Inhaling liquid containing nicotine and other substances doesn’t really make vaping a better option than tobacco smoking. 

  • It’s highly addicting. 

In both regular and e-cigarettes, nicotine is one of the primary content. You don’t have to vape every day to develop an addiction. There are people who became addicted to vaping even if they don’t use it every day.

  • It’s potentially harmful to your lungs and heart.

There are still so many things to know about vaping and its long-term health effects. However, the current data show that it can potentially lead to chronic lung and heart health issues.

  • It doesn’t really help you quit smoking.

Some people think that using e-cigarettes can help them quit tobacco smoking but it’s far from the truth. Studies found out that those who resort to vaping to quit regular smoking ended up continuing the habit with both the regular and e-cigarettes.

If you’re struggling to quit your smoking habit, a specialist may help you. Our doctors at Greater Knoxville ENT can provide you with cessation resources or tools. To request an appointment, you may call us at (865) 244-4396.






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