Audiology Awareness Month

October is National Audiology Awareness Month and hearing professionals are urging the public to learn more about hearing loss and ways to protect our hearing.

What causes hearing loss?
It is estimated that about 14.3 percent or 38.2 million Americans suffer from some degree of hearing loss.

Hearing loss can be caused by a lot of different things, including:

Damage to the inner ear. Constant exposure to loud noise and aging may eventually lead to the wear and tear on the hairs or nerve cells in the inner ear or cochlea. The cochlea is the spiral cavity that contains the organ Corti, which is responsible for producing nerve impulses in response to vibrations.

The buildup of earwax. The earwax has a vital role to play in the ear. It is produced by the ear to clean and protect itself. However, when there’s too much buildup of earwax, it may also get into the way of hearing.

Too much earwax can block the ear canal and block the sound waves.

Ruptured eardrum
Infection, constant poking of your eardrum with an object, loud blast of noise, and sudden pressure can cause a rupture in your eardrum and cause hearing loss.

What are the signs to watch out for?
If you’re experiencing any of the following, you should see a hearing specialist immediately:

  • Difficulty understanding words especially in a crowd or with a background noise
  • Constantly asking others to speak more slowly and clearly
  • Needing to turn up volume of TV or radio
  • Muffling of speech
  • Withdrawal from conversations

Can hearing loss be prevented?
There are ways to prevent noise-induced hearing loss and keep age-related hearing loss from getting worse.

Try to limit your exposure to loud noise. If this can’t be avoided (i.e. if there’s constant noise in your workplace), protect your ears by using hearing protectors such as plastic earplugs or glycerin-filled earmuffs.

You may also want to consider having your hearing tested. This can help in the early detection of hearing loss and taking steps to keep it from progressing.

If you think you might have hearing loss, Greater Knoxville ENT offers an online hearing screener that lasts only three minutes. All you will need is a set of headphones to get started. Visit https://hearing-screener.beyondhearing.org/GKENTAudiology/uVS08P/welcome to take the online hearing screener. Call (865) 244-4396 to request an appointment.

References:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hearing-loss/symptoms-causes/syc-20373072#:~:text=Damage%20to%20the%20inner%20ear,efficiently%2C%20and%20hearing%20loss%20occurs.
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hearing-loss/symptoms-causes/syc-20373072

Does Vaping Cause a Sore Throat?

Vaping has become so popular among the younger population and with people who wanted to shift from traditional tobacco smoking. However, with the growing use also comes the increasing number of sore throat complaints. 

Can vaping really cause a sore throat?

Throat irritation is a common complaint among vaping rookies. And here are some of the possible reasons why it happens:

  • Smoker’s Flu
    Also known as Quitter’s Flu, Smoker’s Flu is not an infectious disease but rather a group of symptoms a smoker experiences after transitioning to life after quitting. It’s basically the body’s response as it heals itself from the tar and other chemicals it was exposed to during tobacco smoking.

    Some of the symptoms of Smoker’s Flu include sore throat, headache, stomach issue, sleep difficulties, and cough.

    While these symptoms will make you feel miserable for days, these are just temporary.
  • Getting Too Much Nicotine
    One of the things people love about vaping is that they can adjust the nicotine strength to suit their needs. However, many people who are ex-smokers tend to go overboard with their nicotine content to satisfy their nicotine cravings. This is, by far, the leading cause of throat irritation among vapers who are largely ex-smokers.

    Only those who smoke a pack a day are recommended to have high nicotine e-liquids. Casual smokers or those who smoke less than a pack a day can have their nicotine craving satisfied with a nicotine strength at 2.4 percent.
  • Vaping Style
    Many new vapers tend to draw their e-cig with the same intensity as with a conventional tobacco cigarette. With this vaping style, sore throat is almost always inevitable.

Getting Rid of the Sore Throat

The best way to get rid of vaping-related sore throats is to avoid the things that cause it. This means sticking to an appropriate nicotine level, doing deliberate draws from the vape, and staying well-hydrated

By doing these, you’ll get to enjoy the use of a vape without the worry of throat irritation.

References:

https://www.whitecloudelectroniccigarettes.com/blog/vaping-throat-irritation/#:~:text=Because%20both%20bases%20attract%20moisture,nearby%20every%20time%20you%20vape.

https://www.myfreedomsmokes.com/blog/sore-throat-vaping

 

What to do When Your Child has a Sore Throat

A sore throat is a very common occurrence in childhood. It can be a symptom of another illness such as colds, flu, or mononucleosis. In some cases, it can also be a cause of a problem that may need medical attention. This includes strep throat, stomatitis, ingestion, or retropharyngeal abscess. 

How to tell if a sore throat is caused by a cold or something else?

If your child’s sore throat is due to a cold, it can be accompanied by other symptoms such as cough, runny nose, loss of appetite, and possibly, sore ears. 

If it’s because of the flu, your child may also experience some aches and pains. 

Sore throat in kids older than three years old is more likely due to streptococcal infection (strep throat in kids younger than that is rare). If it’s a strep infection, your child may also experience swollen red tonsils with white spots, swollen neck glands, and a rash.

What to do when your child has a sore throat?

Here are some things you can do to make your child more comfortable when having a sore throat:

  • Provide cold liquids or food.
    This includes popsicles, Jell-O, or even ice cream. If your child doesn’t want to eat, provide small sips of cold fluid at a time.
  • Avoid spicy, salty, or acidic food if your child has mouth sores.
    Spicy, salty, acidic, and foods that are sharp (e.g. chips) can only worsen your child’s mouth sores.
  • Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
    You can temporarily relieve the discomfort by giving acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Check with your child’s doctor for the right dosage.
  • Keep the throat moist.
    Aside from small sips of fluids, you can also keep your child’s throat moist by using a humidifier. 

When to see a specialist?

You should see a specialist immediately if your child’s sore throat is accompanied by:

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Difficulty in swallowing especially when he/she is drooling
  • Stiff neck
  • High fever (102 degrees Fahrenheit or higher) that doesn’t go down even with acetaminophen or ibuprofen
  • Refusal to drink
  • Severe pain
  • Severe drowsiness (difficult to wake up)
  • Rash, headache, stomachache, or vomiting

Greater Knoxville ENT has specialists who can assess your child’s throat condition. To request an appointment, you may call us at (865) 521-8050.

 

References:

https://raisingchildren.net.au/guides/a-z-health-reference/sore-throat

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/worry-childs-sore-throat-2018011613119

Back-to-School Tips

The start of the school year this year will not be the same as the previous years. With the ongoing pandemic, some schools are opting for remote learning or a hybrid of in-person and online sessions. However, there are schools that are pushing for in-person sessions (following sanitation protocols, of course).

As parents, you may still be worried about your kids’ health especially with the pandemic. So, what can you do to prepare and protect your kids for in-person classes?

Here are some helpful tips from ENTs:

Make it a ritual to check your child’s temperature before school.
Although there are schools that are starting to do this, it won’t do any harm if you check it too yourself. It’s just to make sure that your child doesn’t have any fever before going to school.

It can also be helpful to get a device that checks your child’s oxygen saturation (some stores sell it at $20). One of the symptoms of COVID infection is a drop in oxygen saturation.

Opt for a packed lunch.
Although there are school cafeterias that are implementing contact-free food distribution, you may feel safer by opting for packed lunches. For an added layer of safety, you may want to pack your kid’s lunch in disposable brown bags that they can dispose of after eating.

Teach your kid the proper way of washing his/her hands.
Implement in your kid the habit of proper handwashing at every transition of the day – from entering the classroom, before lunchtime, before heading home, and once he/she gets home.

Get a good face covering.
Invest in good quality and breathable face mask for your kid. To prevent unfortunate mix-ups with masks from other kids, you may want to get a customized, washable face covering. Make it fun by choosing designs that reflect your child’s personality or favorites.

Have your child shower once he/she gets home from school.
Kids, in general, maybe less symptomatic but they can spread the virus easily. So, have your kid shower and change clothes once he/she gets home from school.

These are just some of the things you can do to keep your child safe and healthy in this back-to-school season.

If your child is suffering from fever, runny nose, cough, muscle ache, fatigue, and diarrhea, call a specialist immediately.

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

 

References:
https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/parenting/2020/08/07/how-protect-your-kids-coronavirus-when-they-return-school/3299589001/
https://www.lanermc.org/community/lane-health-blog/back-to-school-tips-for-ent-healthhttps://www.nysinuscenter.com/2016/09/back-to-school-ent-tips/

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.

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:

Allergies
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.

References:
https://www.everydayhealth.com/ear-nose-throat/specialist.aspx#:~:text=ENT%20specialists%20are%20trained%20to,%2C%20hearing%2C%20and%20facial%20movements.
https://www.raleighcapitolent.com/blog/how-does-an-ent-doctor-help-you?entryid=26&tabid=89

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:

Laryngitis
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.

References:
https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/vocal-cord-disorders#:~:text=Key%20points%20about%20Vocal%20Cord%20Disorders&text=Some%20of%20the%20more%20common%20vocal%20cord%20disorders%20include%20laryngitis,or%20trouble%20swallowing%20or%20coughing.
https://utswmed.org/medblog/vocal-cords-care/

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.

References:
https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/9570-traveling-with-asthma-and-allergies

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
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
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.

Mold
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.

 

References:
https://www.webmd.com/allergies/summer-allergies#2
https://acaai.org/news/summer-allergies-fact-or-fiction
https://acaai.org/news/ugly-truth-about-summer-allergies

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.

 

References:

https://www.medicinenet.com/what_if_i_get_covid-19_with_an_existing_condition/ask.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/asthma.html

 

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.

 

References:
https://www.google.com/amp/s/mobile.reuters.com/article/amp/idUSKBN21I3KE
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.wired.com/story/covid-19-symptoms-guide/amp