Posts for category: ENT Health Care
Swimmer's ear is a painful infection of the structure of the outer ear. Medically termed Otitis Externa, this uncomfortable malady affects many children and adults who are frequent swimmers. Though common, it can be dangerous if left untreated. That's why your ENT doctor at West Coast Ear, Nose and Throat in Simi Valley, Ventura County, Camarillo, and Thousand Oaks, CA wants you aware of the symptoms, treatments and ways to prevent swimmer's ear.
What happens and how
Swimmer's ear usually is very painful. It is caused by water/moisture becoming trapped in the ear canal. This moisture contains harmful bacteria, usually staph, strep, or Pseudomonas. Additionally, the outer ear may become red, puffy and even show signs of drainage. When the infection is severe, the lymph nodes near the affected ear swell, and the patient may run a fever.
Ear infections, including Otitis Externa, potentially may cause hearing loss. Infection results from moisture and bacteria in the ear canal. However, as the infection heals, hearing usually returns to normal.
Other causes for swimmer's ear include:
- Wax, or cerumen, build-up in the ear canal
- Minor irritations and lacerations from scratching an itchy ear due to eczema or psoriasis
- Foreign object in the ear canal (avoid cleaning it with Q-tips)
- Colds or the flu
While most of these ear infections are acute and resolve within days with proper care, Otitis Externa may become chronic as evidenced by symptoms lasting three months or more.
Do you have swimmer's ear?
If you do, you are not alone. American Family Physician reports that one percent of Americans have this ear problem at one time or other. If you experience signs of swimmer's ear, contact your ENT doctor right away. They will visually inspect your outer ear and ear canal. Antibiotics, in the form of ear drops, are the normal course of treatment; steroids reduce inflammation, and over-the-counter ibuprofen or acetaminophen ease pain.
Preventive measures include:
- Keeping your ears warm and dry
- Wearing ear plugs in the pool
- Wearing a shower cap when bathing or showering
- Toweling dry your head and ears after being in the water
Yes, swimmer's ear occurs frequently. However, don't take it lightly. Avoid complications by getting treatment for your symptoms right away at West Coast Ear, Nose and Throat. To arrange an appointment at one of our four convenient offices in Simi Valley, Ventura County, Camarillo, and Thousand Oaks, CA, call (805) 379-9646.
Your head hurts, and your face and teeth ache. Worse yet, your nose is extremely congested. Are your sinuses to blame? Your ENT doctors at West Coast Ear, Nose and Throat in Simi Valley, Camarillo, Ventura County and Thousand Oaks, CA offer accurate diagnosis and treatment of symptoms typical of acute and chronic sinus infections. Learn here about common fungal sinusitis and how to deal with it.
What is fungal sinusitis?
Fungal sinusitis is an infection of the air-filled spaces in the skull. They surround the nose and are an essential part of the respiratory system. Of the four types of sinus cavities, frontal, ethmoid, maxillary and sphenoid, fungal sinusitis typically affects the maxillary and sphenoid sinuses with symptoms such as :
- A headache
- Facial pain and tenderness
- A cough
- Nasal congestion and thick mucous discharge (green and yellow)
- Bad breath
With fungal sinusitis, a microorganism called Aspergillus is inhaled, invading and settling into the maxillary sinuses above the front teeth in the cheek area and the sphenoid sinuses behind the nose. Typically, the infection is asymmetrical--that is, affecting sinuses only on one side of the face.
More about sinusitis
Other causes of sinusitis are allergies and various bacteria. Structural abnormalities in the sinuses due to polyps or a deviated septum (the lateral displacement of the thin bone which runs divides the interior of the nose) lead to infection, too.
The American Academy of Otolaryngology says that the most destructive and dangerous kinds of sinusitis occur when a patient is immunosuppressed because of cancer, diabetes or other serious health problem. Additionally, this group of sinus experts reports that cases of sinusitis have risen in number over the past 30 years, due in part to greater public awareness of the problem, more therapies which suppress the immune system (such as cancer treatment) and greater use of antibiotics.
Your caring team of doctors at West Coast Ear, Nose and Throat can help. Your ENT doctor will review your medical history, current medications and your symptoms. Your doctor may use endoscopic inspection, digital X-ray imaging and other scans as needed.
Treatment may entail endoscopic removal of the fungal mass and anti-fungal medications as needed. However, prevention is the best medicine. You may be able to avoid sinus infections by:
- Using a sinus spray or oral decongestant at the first sign of infection
- Routinely blowing your nose (be gentle)
- Staying hydrated
You don't have to suffer from fungal sinusitis. At West Coast Ear, Nose and Throat in Simi Valley, Camarillo, Ventura County and Thousand Oaks, CA, we are here to help you feel and function at your very best. Call today for a consultation: (805) 379-9646.
Your ears do more than hear what's happening in the world around you. They also help you stay balanced because of their specialized interior structures, such as the bony semi-circular canals. So if you're having symptoms of dizziness, or vertigo, your ENT doctors at West Coast Ear, Nose and Throat in Camarillo, CA, can uncover the reasons why you feel as you do and bring you back to full health and function.
What is dizziness?
Dizziness can be different things to different people, but mostly, it involves a feeling of spinning, faintness, unsteadiness on the feet, and wooziness. Sudden motion, such as quickly bending down to pick up a dropped object or standing up quickly from a seated position, may provoke dizziness.
If these symptoms last for more than several days or are accompanied by a headache, vomiting, chest pain or visual changes, you should call your primary care physician or your ENT doctor in Camarillo for further evaluation.
Dizziness and the ear
There are many conditions involving the ear which express themselves with dizziness. They include:
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV, involves the three semi-circular canals in the inner ear and the fluid contained within them. Especially as people age, crystals, or otoliths, may form in the fluid, causing dizziness and a drop in hearing when the sufferer moves his or her head rapidly. Often, simple rest, hydration and slowing down head movements suffice in treating this simple sign of aging, and routine audiology tests and CT scans or MRIs rule out more serious causes of vertigo.
Labyrinthitis involves the bony structures within the ear which are responsible for balance. Usually, the vertigo associated with this inflammatory condition occurs after a cold, flu or sore throat. Your ENT doctor at West Coast Ear, Nose and Throat diagnoses labyrinthitis based on symptoms.
Meniere's Disease involves a build-up of fluid in the labyrinth. The resulting dizziness often comes with a drop in hearing and a feeling of fullness in the ear. Researchers attribute Meniere's to autoimmune and hereditary factors and also say stress escalates symptoms. Diagnosed by a review of symptoms, Meniere's Disease may be treated with a variety of prescription medications, such as diuretics, says the American Hearing Research Foundation.
If you're dizzy...
Please find out the cause. The six physicians at West Coast Ear, Nose and Throat are eager to help people who have ear-related vertigo. We have four convenient offices in Simi Valley, Ventura County, Camarillo, and Thousand Oaks, CA, to serve you. Contact your ENT doctor in Camarillo at (805) 379-9646 for an appointment.
Oh, no, your child's ear pain is back. The fever, the muffled hearing and "yucky" feeling indicate a middle ear infection. You and your family have played this song before. How can you treat this problem? At West Coast Ear, Nose and Throat in Simi Valley, Ventura County, Camarillo, and Thousand Oaks, CA, the board-certified otolaryngologists come alongside the pediatrician, parent, and child in working through this stubborn and frequent problem. Learn more here about ear infections and what prevention and treatment look like.
The two kinds
You are probably most familiar with otitis media, a bacterial or viral infection of the middle ear. After a cold, the flu or sore throat, fluid builds up behind the ear drum, or tympanic membrane, which vibrates as the ear receives sound.
As fluid accumulates, pain, pressure, loss of balance, and hearing, fever and even ear drum rupture can result. Children and adults fall prey to this condition, but otitis media develops more in children as they have horizontally oriented eustachian tubes which transmit bacteria to the ear. Additionally, exposure to cigarette smoke and allergies are risk factors.
The other kind of ear infection involves the outer ear. Called otitis externa, or swimmer's ear, this painful problem makes the outside of the ear and ear canal sore and red. Often, it stems from water stagnating in the canal, making it a breeding ground for bacteria. Left unchecked, swimmer's ear may worsen into cellulitis, causing skin, cartilage, and bone damage.
Prevention and treatment
To diagnose ear infections, your otolaryngologist will use an otoscope to light the ear canal and inspect it and the ear drum, or tympanic membrane. He or she will perform a tympanogram, a simple test which measures how mobile the ear drum is. The physician also will evaluate symptoms.
Treatment for both otitis externa and otitis media often involves oral antibiotics, over the counter analgesics and soothing the ear with a warm compress. Children often benefit from insertion of ear tubes or adenoid removal, but the ENT doctor will determine treatment based on individual need.
To prevent otitis externa, the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics says that keeping the ears dry helps avoid infection. Earplugs facilitate this as does gently drying the ears with a blow dryer after swimming or other prolonged exposure to moisture.
Regarding otitis media, many children simply stop getting these infections because, as they grow, their eustachian tubes become more vertical and therefore, are healthier. Some children, however, require continued antibiotic therapy to stave off infection while others need a procedure called a myringotomy.
During a myringotomy, the physician creates a small opening into each ear drum. Then, the doctor inserts thin plastic, teflon or metal tubes which allow the accumulated fluid to drain. Tubes stay in place for several months.
The professional staff at West Coast Ear, Nose and Throat encourage patients to seek treatment for troublesome ear infections. To find out more, contact the office team for an appointment. We have four convenient locations in Simi Valley, Ventura County, Camarillo, and Thousand Oaks, CA.
Most of us have heard of the thyroid. It's often called the "master gland" because of its role in maintaining the body's metabolism. Just like other endocrine glands (such as the pancreas), the thyroid can malfunction or even develop cancer. In either case, thyroid surgery may be necessary. In Simi Valley, Camarillo, Ventura County and Thousand Oaks, CA, the otolaryngologists at West Coast ENT Head & Neck Surgery precisely diagnose and treat thyroid issues in patients of all ages. Read here about thyroid disorders and the surgeries which alleviate them.
Symptoms of thyroid problems
Your thyroid is an H-shaped gland located near the Adam's Apple in the neck. While the adrenal gland in your brain gives off TSH, or thyroid stimulating hormone, the thyroid gland secretes T3 and T4 which regulate your heart rate, temperature and other factors associated with metabolism.
While people of all ages suffer from thyroid malfunction and cancer, these problems are more prevalent in women during postpartum or post-menopause. Sometimes the thyroid secretes too much thyroxin and sometimes, too little.
With hypothyroidism (too little of the hormone), sufferers often gain weight, lose hair and are generally listless. With hyperthyroidism (Graves' Disease), the opposite is true. Patients lose weight, sweat, feel irritable and suffer from insomnia.
Additionally, some individuals develop benign tumors of the thyroid (nodules) or fluid-filled cysts. Others fall prey to thyroid malignancies. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, about 54,000 new cases of thyroid cancer are diagnosed annually in the United States, and yes, the majority of patients are women.
Treating the thyroid
Of course, treatment depends on several factors. At West Coast ENT Head & Neck Surgery, our doctors specialize in disorders of the thyroid and also perform thyroid surgery in Simi Valley, Camarillo, Ventura County and Thousand Oaks. Through physical examination, precise imaging and review of lab work and symptoms, these physicians accurately diagnose and treat a variety of thyroid problems.
While some issues may be treated with medication only (supplemental calcium or thyroxin, as examples), others require thyroid surgery. Thyroid cancer is a common reason to remove part or all of this endocrine gland.
Thyroid surgery in Simi Valley, Camarillo, Ventura County and Thousand Oaks
The American Association of Endocrine Surgeons says there are three categories of thyroidectomies. They include:
- Total thyroidectomy in which the entire gland is removed
- Lobectomy which removes part of the gland, typically for biopsy
- Completion thyroidectomy in which the rest of the gland is removed after a partial resection
Most thyroid patients have some scarring after surgery. However, the endoscopic techniques used by the doctors at West Coast ENT reduce the extent and the appearance of scars. Additionally, a majority of surgical patients take thyroid hormone replacement afterward.
The thyroid and its associated conditions really aren't mysterious. To understand it and to know when drug and surgery therapies are needed, talk to West Coast ENT Head & Neck Surgery. Their six physicians are highly skilled and experienced. They'll help you be well-informed and healthy, too. Call today for your consultation.