Some of the most common throat and neck conditions are acid reflux, tonsil and adenoid issues, mouth and throat tumors, and snoring and sleep apnea. We are passionate about Otolaryngology and look forward to providing the best treatment plan possible for all your throat and neck needs. At Helena ENT Clinic, our physicians provide excellent care to patients of any age. Call Helena ENT Clinic, to set up an appointment, if you are experiencing issues managing these conditions.
Infected or enlarged tonsils may cause chronic or recurrent sore throat, bad breath, dental malocclusion, abscess, upper airway obstruction causing difficulty with swallowing, snoring, or sleep apnea. Infected adenoids may become enlarged, obstruct breathing, cause ear infections, and other problems. Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy are surgical procedures performed to remove the tonsils and adenoids. The tonsils and adenoids are masses of immune cells commonly found in lymph glands (lymphoid tissue). These tissues are located in the mouth and behind the nasal passages. Each are thought to aid in fighting infection. Set up an appointment with Helena ENT to see if a tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy is right for you.
Signs of a mouth or throat tumor could include a sore that doesn’t heal, a lump or thickening of the skin or lining of your mouth, a white or reddish patch on the inside of your mouth, loose teeth, poorly fitting dentures, tongue pain, jaw pain or stiffness, difficult or painful chewing or swallowing, prolonged sore throat, feeling that something is caught in your throat. If any of these signs or symptoms bother you for two weeks or more, contact Helena ENT and set up an appointment.
Lots of people are intimately familiar with acid reflux symptoms. More than 60 million Americans experience acid reflux at least once a month. Acid reflux disease, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can produce a variety of symptoms. Common Acid Reflux Symptoms include heartburn, regurgitation, and dyspepsia.
Heartburn. Also called acid indigestion, heartburn is a burning pain or discomfort that can move up from your stomach to the middle of your abdomen and chest. The pain can also move into your throat.
Regurgitation. Another common symptom of acid reflux is regurgitation — or the sensation of acid backing up into your throat or mouth. Regurgitation can produce a sour or bitter taste, and you may experience a “wet burp” or even vomit some contents of your stomach.
Dyspepsia. Many people with acid reflux disease also have a syndrome called dyspepsia. Dyspepsia is a general term for stomach discomfort. Symptoms of dyspepsia include excessive burping, nausea after eating, stomach fullness or bloating, upper abdominal pain or discomfort.
Symptoms of acid reflux may be a sign that stomach acid has inflamed your esophagus. When that happens, stomach acid can damage the lining of your esophagus and cause bleeding.
Although acid reflux is extremely common and rarely serious, don’t ignore your acid reflux symptoms. Most cases of acid reflux can be treated with simple lifestyle changes and over-the-counter antacids.
In a few cases, continued esophageal damage can lead to scarring, which may cause the esophagus to narrow. The narrowing creates strictures and makes it difficult to swallow. You may have dysphagia, a sensation that food is stuck in your esophagus. In some cases, cells in the lining of the esophagus develop an abnormal shape and color in response to the constant acid irritation. If you are experiencing this, make an appointment with Helena ENT today.
Frequent, loud snoring may be a sign of sleep apnea, a common and potentially serious disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts as you sleep. Although sleep apnea is treatable, it often goes unrecognized. Learning how to identify the warning signs, how to distinguish it from normal snoring, is the first step to overcoming sleep apnea and getting a good night’s sleep.
In untreated sleep apnea, breathing is briefly interrupted or becomes very shallow during sleep. These breathing pauses typically last between 10 to 20 seconds and can occur up to hundreds of times a night, jolting you out of your natural sleep rhythm. This chronic sleep deprivation results in daytime sleepiness, slow reflexes, poor concentration, and an increased risk of accidents.
Sleep apnea can also lead to serious health problems over time, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and weight gain. But with treatment you can regain control of your sleep cycle and your life.
Types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea. It occurs when the soft tissue in the back of your throat relaxes during sleep and blocks the airway, often causing you to snore loudly.
- Central sleep apnea is a much less common type of sleep apnea that involves the central nervous system, occurring when the brain fails to signal the muscles that control breathing. People with central sleep apnea seldom snore.
- Complex sleep apnea is a combination of obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.
An official diagnosis of sleep apnea may require seeing a sleep specialist and taking a home-based sleep test using a portable monitor, or an overnight stay at a sleep clinic. So how do you tell the difference between normal snoring and a more serious case of sleep apnea?
The biggest telltale sign is how you feel during the day. Normal snoring doesn’t interfere with the quality of your sleep as much as sleep apnea does, so you’re less likely to suffer from extreme fatigue and sleepiness during the day.
The following strategies can help you decipher the symptoms:
- Keep a sleep diary – Record how many hours you’re spending in bed, any nighttime awakenings, and whether you feel refreshed in the morning. Ask your sleep partner to keep track of your snoring, including how loud and frequent it is. Also ask them to note any gasping, choking, or other unusual sounds.
- Record yourself sleeping – Taking a video or audio recording of yourself while you sleep can be very informative and revealing.
Anyone can have sleep apnea—young, old, male, female, and even children. However, certain risk factors have been associated with obstructive and central sleep apnea.
You have a higher risk for obstructive sleep apnea if you are: overweight, male, related to someone who has sleep apnea, over the age of 65, Black, Hispanic, or Pacific Islander, or a smoker.
Other risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea include certain physical attributes, such as having a thick neck, deviated septum, receding chin, or enlarged tonsils or adenoids (the most common cause of sleep apnea in children). Your airway may be blocked or narrowed during sleep simply because your throat muscles tend to relax more than normal. Allergies or other medical conditions that cause nasal congestion and blockage can also contribute to sleep apnea.
If you’re having issues with snoring or sleep apnea, contact Helena ENT to learn about our treatment options.