Do you snore? Most of us would be quick to say no. But did you know it is actually quite common? About 45 percent of people in Carlsbad and throughout the country at least occasionally snore; one in five Americans are habitual snorers. So, what are some snoring treatments available?
Why do you ask does it matter if you snore of not? Turns out, snoring can be the symptom of a more serious condition called obstructive sleep apnea. This disorder is characterized by repeated pauses in breath during sleep, causing irritability, confusion, loss of memory and daytime sleepiness. Snoring can also cause problems in even the strongest of relationships. Who among us is chipper after being woken up multiple times throughout the night?
So what causes a person to snore?
The harsh snoring sound we are all familiar with occurs when your breathing becomes partially blocked while sleeping. As you fall asleep, the muscles in the roof of your mouth, tongue and throat relax. If they relax too much, they can droop backwards and block the airway, where they vibrate together when you breathe. This causes the telltale noisy sounds associated with snoring. The more the airway is obstructed, the louder the snoring will be.
What Snoring Treatments are Available?
There are a number of treatment options available that can help reduce or eliminate your snoring.
Many people find relief by implementing lifestyle changes, which may help eliminate the problem. Useful tips include:
- Sleeping on your side instead of your back
- Losing weight
- Avoiding alcohol before bedtime
- Treating allergies
- Eliminating tobacco smoke
If lifestyle modifications do not solve the problem, oral appliances that reposition the lower jaw may help. Another alternative is nasal breathing strips. Some individuals might benefit from surgical techniques such as:
- Pillar Procedure. Polyester filament is injected into the soft palate to stiffen it and reduce snoring.
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP). Excess throat tissue is surgically removed to enlarge the airway. This may include the uvula, soft palate, tonsils, adenoids and/or pharynx.
- Laser Surgery. Lasers are used to remove the uvula and excess tissue from the soft palate. Also known as radiofrequency tissue ablation, this procedure uses radio signals to shrink the tissue of the soft palate.
For more tips and tricks on how to get a better night sleep and be rid of your snoring, contact your local Carlsbad physician today.
The Benefits of Hearing Aids
There are countless studies out there about the dangers of untreated hearing loss. Instead of focusing on the negatives, your La Jolla audiologists would rather focus on the positives. Below are the benefits most of our patients experience when they finally decide to seek treatment for their hearing loss with the use of hearing aids.
Improved General Health
Those who treat their hearing loss experience a decrease in feelings of depression, anger and anxiety; they also see an improvement in their balance. Individuals who leave their hearing loss untreated are three times more likely to suffer physical injuries, especially falls. They are also at an increased risk of cognitive decline.
Improved Professional Success
Untreated hearing loss leads to difficulty concentrating, especially when communicating with others. It can also lead to reduced job performance and less monetary compensation. New research suggests that untreated hearing loss can actually lead to problems storing new information, making it harder for individuals to learn new things.
Improved Emotional Well-Being
Treating hearing loss enables a patient to once again be able to navigate the world on their own and overcome a reliance on others, thus regaining their sense of control. Those that treat their hearing loss have reduced periods of social isolation as well as healthier and longer-lasting relationships. They have also been shown to have higher self-esteem and quality of life than those that don’t.
A study conducted by the Better Hearing Institute (BHI) supplies overwhelming data about how much of a difference hearing aids can make.
Of the 2,000 hearing loss patients surveyed, 82 percent indicated they would recommend hearing aids to their friends and 70 percent reported an improved ability to communicate. In addition, more than four out of five people who use an aid to hear better are satisfied with their solution.
The study also concluded up to a third of patients saw improvements in their romance, sense of humor, mental, emotional and physical health. Roughly 40 percent noted improvements in their sense of safety, self-confidence, feelings about self, sense of independence and work relationships.
As you can see, treating your hearing loss does more than just improve your ability to hear. If you are interested in improving your quality of life, contact your La Jolla audiologist today.
Chronic Sinus Problems? Balloon Sinuplasty Offers an Outstanding Treatment Option
Balloon sinuplasty is a surgical treatment option for Carlsbad residents who suffer from chronic sinusitis that can’t be managed medically. It’s safe, effective and less invasive than other procedures, requiring no cutting of bone or tissue. This procedure is performed by a Carlsbad ENT physician and can typically be completed in-office by an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat doctor).
Why Carlsbad Residents Need to Know About Balloon Sinuplasty
Sinusitis is one of the most prevalent chronic conditions in Carlsbad, La Jolla, Murrieta and across the U.S. An estimated 37 million people suffer from this persistent inflammation of the sinuses nationwide. It causes a variety of unpleasant symptoms including:
- Sore throat
- Facial pain and pressure
- Loss of smell
Chronic sinusitis is caused by infections, nasal polyps, deviated septum or other structural abnormalities. People often struggle to find an effective treatment plan that offers relief, even after working with a Carlsbad ENT physician. Home remedies and medications work for some residents, but for others, surgery is the best option for treating this condition.
The Balloon Sinuplasty Procedure
Traditional sinus surgery entails the cutting and removal of bone and tissue, and Carlsbad patients are subjected to a recovery period following the procedure. By contrast, balloon sinuplasty is minimally invasive, and has few postoperative side effects or complications. It is performed in an outpatient setting (a Carlsbad ENT office) using local anesthesia.
The surgeon inserts a balloon catheter into the inflamed sinus passage and inflates it to expand the sinus opening and widen the walls of the passageway without affecting the sinus lining. Saline is sprayed into the cavity in order to flush out mucus and pus, and the catheter is removed. The sinuses are now open, allowing for normal breathing and drainage of fluids. A majority of Carlsbad sinusitis sufferers who undergo this procedure report significant improvement in symptoms, without any adverse effects.
As quick and effective as balloon sinuplasty is, the procedure may not be right for all Carlsbad patients with sinusitis. Nasal polyps and other obstructions will likely require treatment with conventional endoscopic surgery.
Talk with a Carlsbad ENT physician to find out if balloon sinuplasty is the best option for your individual needs.
No Pain, No Allergy Relief?
Besides the people getting piercings and tattoos, no one wants more needles in their life. But what if I told you that you could be rid of your allergies with just a simple shot every week?
Many Carlsbad residents suffer from environmental and seasonal allergies. If your symptoms are no longer well controlled with oral medication, now may be the perfect time to contact your Carlsbad allergist to learn more about allergy shots.
Allergy shots can be used as a long-term treatment for seasonal, indoor and insect sting allergies. They work by getting your body used to the allergen slowly, with the hopes that your body will develop an immunity or tolerance to it.
The process is broken down into two phases – the build-up and the maintenance.
Allergy Shots Build Up Phase
The build-up phase involves injecting a small amount of the allergen into your upper arm once or twice a week. The amount in the injection is increased at each visit and the length of this phase is entirely dependent on how your body handles each dose.
Allergy Shots Maintenance Phase
The maintenance phase begins when you have reached your effective dose, or the most you can handle without showing any symptoms. During this phase, your dosage will stay the same at each visit. You will only need to visit your allergist once every month, instead of every week for the next three to five years.
Since allergy shots contain a substance you are allergic to, there are some risks involved. Swelling and redness usually develop at the site of injection but are quick to clear up. Sneezing, nasal congestion and hives may develop as well as more severe reactions such as wheezing or chest-tightness. Anaphylaxis, the most serious reaction, rarely occurs. Since these shots are administered in a clinical setting, any reaction that does occur can be easily treated.
While taking an antihistamine will clear up your symptoms quickly, allergy shots take a while to show any results. Your symptoms will gradually improve over the first year of treatment and will continue to improve throughout the process.
Unlike taking allergy medications, which treat symptoms immediately, your symptoms will not improve overnight with the use of allergy shots. Symptoms gradually improve over the first year of treatment and continue to improve over the next few years. Your allergy shots may even decrease symptoms of other allergens and prevent new allergies from developing.
Are weekly shots looking better and better? If so, now’s the time to schedule an appointment with your Carlsbad allergist.
Think You Have a Voice Disorder?
Almost 7.5 million Americans have trouble using their voice; this type of trouble is often referred to as a voice disorder. How do you know if your hoarseness is just a result of your karaoke last night or if it is the first symptom of a voice disorder?
How Does Your Voice Work?
It is important to understand how your voice works before you can understand what happens when something goes wrong.
The vocal folds, groups of muscle tissue in the larynx, are usually open to allow breathing. When you speak, they close, and air from the lungs makes them vibrate. This produces sound. The size and shape of the vocal folds and surrounding cavities (throat, mouth and nose) help determine the pitch, volume and tone of your voice.
Signs of a Voice Disorder
Illness or disease can change the pitch, volume and quality of your voice.
Symptoms of a voice disorder include:
- Hoarse, raspy or weak voice
- Decreased range in pitch, volume and projection
- Vocal fatigue
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- Chronic throat clearing
- Voice loss.
If any of these symptoms last longer than two weeks, you should seek medical attention from your Murrieta ear, nose and throat doctor.
Common Voice Problems
Rarely does a voice disorder indicate a serious health problem and most are usually curable.
One of the most common voice problems is vocal cord abuse. This occurs when you use your voice improperly; shouting, whispering and frequent throat clearing can cause strain and fatigue of the vocal cords. Continued abuse can lead to permanent voice damage and a number of serious medical issues such as laryngitis, polyps, cysts and vocal fold swelling.
Other conditions that can affect the voice include:
- Upper respiratory infections
- Acid reflux
- Tobacco smoke
- Vocal nodules
- Neurological diseases
Tips to Keep Your Voice Healthy
The best way to prevent a voice disorder is to keep your voice healthy. This can be done by:
- Avoiding straining your vocal cords with improper pitch or volume
- Keeping your vocal cords moist by drinking water, especially when speaking
- Limiting your caffeine and alcohol intake
- Using a humidifier to prevent dry air
- Resting your voice if you do experience voice strain to prevent permanent damage.
Contact your Murrieta voice specialist to learn more.
Vocal Cords Say What?
Have you ever thought about how you are able to read this sentence out loud? Your vocal cords, also called vocal folds, play an important role in the process of producing sound.
How the Vocal Cords Function
First there must be air in your lungs, which occurs through the act of inhaling. The air is then pushed through the lungs into your windpipe. At the top of the windpipe sit your vocal cords, which stay open when breathing and close when you produce sound. As the air gets pushed out of the windpipe, it passes between the vocal cords, causing them to vibrate. This vibration sounds like buzzing. This sound is passed through the throat, nose and mouth, which all work together to change the buzzing into speech.
A voice disorder can occur if something affects your vocal cords, which will then affect your speech. One of the less common voice disorders is vocal cord paralysis.
Vocal cord paralysis can be bilateral or unilateral. Bilateral paralysis means both cords become stuck half open and half closed, and the cords are unable to move in either direction. Unilateral paralysis occurs when only one side is stuck or has very limited movement.
Hoarseness is Caused by Paralysis
Hoarseness, an inability to speak loudly and choking or coughing while eating are common signs of vocal cord paralysis.
If you find yourself have problems speaking, the first call you should make is to your Murrieta ear, nose and throat doctor. To make a diagnosis, your voice specialist will review your symptoms and complete a physical exam. An endoscope will be inserted down your nose or throat so your doctor can get a better look at your vocal cords. Once the vocal cords are in view, your doctor will ask you to speak in order to watch what happens.
If your Murrieta ear, nose and throat doctor diagnoses you with bilateral vocal cord paralysis, a tracheotomy may be needed. This procedure creates a hole in your trachea, and a tube is inserted to help you breathe. Unilateral vocal cord paralysis may also require surgery to move the paralyzed vocal cord.
Non-surgical treatments such as behavioral therapy may be recommended by your doctor before surgery is needed. This type of therapy will teach you how to breathe better and how to find the best body positon for you to produce strong speech.
For more information on the signs and symptoms of voice disorders, contact your local Murrieta ear, nose and throat doctor.
Understanding Hearing Aid Batteries
Mercury or zinc? Understanding Hearing Aid BatteriesA battery is a battery, right? Turns out, the batteries you use in your brand new pair of hearing aids are not the same as the ones you put in your remote controls or kids’ toys. But don’t worry. You don’t have to figure a whole new set of battery rules on your own. Your Carlsbad audiologist will explain all you need to know before you leave the hearing aid center. Below are just some of the questions they will answer.
What kinds of batteries do hearing aids use?Your hearing aids use disposable zinc-air batteries that are color- and number-coded for easy replacement. The type of battery needed depends on the style and size of your hearing aids and includes: 5 (red), 10 (yellow), 13 (orange), 312 (brown) and 675 (blue).
You have a few options of where to buy your batteries. Most pharmacies carry replacement batteries. You can also purchase them online or from your Carlsbad audiologist’s office.
How do zinc-air batteries differ from other battery types?Zinc-air batteries require oxygen to produce power. They come individually wrapped. Once the packaging is open, oxygen enters through tiny holes to activate them. Your Carlsbad audiologist recommends waiting at least a minute before inserting the batteries into your hearing aid to ensure they have absorbed enough oxygen in order to work properly.
How long will hearing aid batteries last?On average, batteries last five to seven days depending on the size and style of your hearing aids, your degree of hearing loss, the amount of time your hearing aids are used and your listening environment.
How do I know when it’s time to change the batteries?The first thing you should do if there is no sound coming out of your hearing aids is to change the battery. Other signs include sound that is distorted or unclear and unusually low volume levels. Newer hearing aids allow you to check the battery level on your wirelessly connected smartphone. Some hearing aids are designed to produce an audible tone warning you when batteries are low.
Are there steps I can take to extend battery life?Store your batteries at room temperature and avoid exposing them to moist or humid environments. This includes the refrigerator, as temperature extremes and condensation can shorten their life. Keep batteries away from keys, coins and other metal objects that can cause them to short circuit or discharge. When removing your hearing aids, turn them off and open the battery compartment door to prevent excess moisture and battery drain.
While these tips and tricks can be a tad overwhelming while you are learning how to use your new hearing aids, know that you are not in this alone. Your Carlsbad audiologist will be there for you and is only a phone call away.
Should you bring your child to the ENT?
While there are any number of reasons to bring your kids to the doctors, ear, nose and throat concerns are on the top of the list. It turns out, children are especially sensitive to issues like ear infections and food allergies.
Your child’s Carlsbad ENT specialist treats a wide variety of conditions. Because of this, it is often confusing where to take your sick child.
Below are the most common conditions your child’s Carlsbad ear, nose and throat doctor treats.
Ear infections are extremely common; almost 30 percent of children have had three or more episodes by the time they are three. This is because the Eustachian tubes in your child’s ears are horizontal, so fluids are unable to drain and can become trapped in the middle or inner ear. Commons signs your child is suffering from an ear infection include pulling on their ears, seeming irritable, waking up frequently at night, experiencing fever and/or losing their sense of balance.
Nose bleeds. Epistaxis, or chronic nose bleeds, are often the result of trauma, dryness or inflammatory disease. Treatments include the use of saline spray, humidifiers and/or Vaseline. If your child’s nosebleed continues despite these treatments you should bring them in to see their ear, nose and throat doctor.
Children between four and seven years old are most likely to suffer from a tonsil infection. Almost all cases of tonsillitis (85 percent) are caused by viruses. If your child’s tonsils become so enlarged they cause swallowing or breathing difficulty or if they continue to experience episodes of tonsillitis, you should bring them in to see a Carlsbad ENT specialist.
Also known as sinusitis, are usually caused by a cold, flu, allergies or infections. If your child’s sinus infections last for more than two months or continue to return after treatment you should schedule an appointment with their ear, nose and throat doctor.
While your child’s pediatrician is able to handle most things that come their way, an ENT specialist should handle these chronic issues. Untreated chronic infections can lead to problems down the road if they are not sufficiently treated in a timely manner.
Got a Frog in Your Throat?
A Voice Disorder Called DysphoniaHave you ever had a breathy, raspy, scratchy or strained-sounded voice? Chances are, your friendly and supportive Murrieta coworkers probably mentioned how weird your voice sounded every time you spoke, some even asking the ol’ cliché “got a frog in your throat?”
What Causes Hoarseness in Your VoiceThis change in your voice is a type of voice disorder called dysphonia, which refers to voice impairment or any sort of difficulty speaking.
Hoarseness is the result of a problem with the vocal cords. It can be caused by a variety of different conditions including cold or sinus infections, acute laryngitis, voice misuse or abuse, benign vocal cord lesions, acid reflux, vocal hemorrhage, tobacco and alcohol use, thyroid diseases, cancer, trauma to the voice box and neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s or spasmodic dysphonia, a chronic vocal cord disorder.
Relieving a Hoarse ThroatFortunately for you, hoarseness usually clears up on its own without any sort of medical intervention. Most ear, nose and throat doctors in Murrieta take a wait-and-see approach, treating symptoms with home remedies that include resting the voice, staying hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids and using a humidifier to add moisture to the air.
Making certain lifestyle changes – eliminating spicy foods, alcohol and caffeine from the diet, giving up cigarettes, avoiding activities that cause vocal cord strain such as shouting, whispering or using inappropriate pitch or volume – are all helpful ways to reduce or eliminate the symptoms associated with this voice disorder.
If hoarseness lasts longer than three weeks, is not accompanied by cold or flu symptoms, affects your ability to swallow or breathe or otherwise interferes with your livelihood, schedule an appointment with your Murrieta ear, nose and throat doctors.
You will be given a thorough physical examination, including the ears, nose and throat, and may be given a laryngoscopy or other special test to help analyze the vocal folds.
Dating with Food Allergies
Dating in Carlsbad is hard enough. Adding food allergies into the mix only complicates the process. You could spend the whole date on high alert, constantly worrying about your food allergy. Or, you could go in prepared.
The first thing you will need to do is visit your Carlsbad ear, nose and throat doctor to have an allergy test performed. Food allergies can be diagnosed through a blood test. A blood test is used to measure the amount of allergen-specific IgE antibodies present in your blood.
Before Your Date, Test for Food Allergies
If blood testing is negative, an oral food challenge can also be performed in order to rule out a food allergy. This test takes place in the clinic where you will be under constant supervision by your ear, nose and throat doctor. This ensures if you experience an allergic reaction it can be treated immediately. The food in question is ingested in small amounts and the challenge is stopped at the first sign of a reaction. After a few hours, if no reaction has occurred, you are no longer allergic.
If the cause of the allergy symptoms cannot be determined, an elimination diet is recommended. Potential trigger foods are eliminated from your diet for a few weeks. If the symptoms resolve, the eliminated food is most likely the culprit. To make sure, you may be asked to reintroduce the food back into your diet to see if the symptoms return.
Did i Tell you I was Allergic to…
Great. Now you know what is causing your allergic reactions. Now that you are armed with this knowledge it is your responsibility to pass it along. Before ordering anything in a restaurant (the most dangerous place to be if you have food allergies), make sure your date is briefed on what you are allergic to and what to do if you start experiencing symptoms. Don’t want to make your first date awkward? Too bad. Cross contamination is a real and potentially life threatening issue.
Can you Pass on Your Food Allergy?
As your relationship gets more serious, your food allergy will soon become their food allergy too.
A study conducted in 2002 found that as many as 5.3 percent of participants experienced an allergic reaction from kissing someone who ingested a food they were allergic to. Carlsbad ENT specialist suggests waiting four to five hours between your non-allergic partner eating a problematic food and kissing them. If the non-allergic partner has a meal in-between and brushes their teeth afterward this can also help eliminate the treat of an allergic reaction. The easiest way to prevent a reaction? Your partner can simply avoid the same foods you do.
If you are having trouble finding a partner that can handle the possibility of an allergic reaction, there is some good news. Dating apps specifically for those with food allergies are also growing in popularity. This shift towards food allergy acceptance is a move in the right direction.
If you want more tips on how to date safely with food allergies, schedule an appointment with your Carlsbad ENT specialist.