Posts for: February, 2020
Having trouble breathing or catching your breath can certainly be a cause for concern. While it’s normal to be out of breath after an intense workout there are times when symptoms such as chest tightness, persistent coughing, wheezing and trouble breathing appear and any of these symptoms are usually signs that something more serious is going on.
As you might imagine, most breathing problems are associated with lung or respiratory conditions. These are problems that an otolaryngologist can easily help you treat or manage. Common lung conditions that can affect breathing include:
Asthma: a chronic condition that affects millions and causes inflammation and airway constriction, which results in coughing, wheezing and chest tightness. Symptoms can range from mild to life threatening.
Pneumonia: an infection of the respiratory tract that causes inflammation and fluid buildup in the lungs. It’s important to see an otolaryngologist immediately for treatment, as untreated pneumonia could be dangerous (and also highly contagious). Symptoms of pneumonia include:
- Shortness of breath
- Shallow breathing
- Productive cough, often with yellow or green mucus
- Chest pain that occurs when breathing deeply or coughing
- Muscle aches
- Sweating and fever
- Loss of appetite
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): this is a group of chronic inflammatory lung diseases that cause airway obstructions within the lungs. The most common types of COPD are chronic bronchitis and emphysema, a condition that most often occurs in smokers. Common symptoms of COPD include:
- Mucus production
- Persistent cough
- Trouble breathing
- Chest tightness
This is a progressive condition that will make breathing even more difficult as the condition advances. It’s important to see an ENT doctor right away if you notice any symptoms of COPD. Early symptoms include exercise-induced rapid breathing, a persistent cough, and clearing your throat often (usually in the morning).
Lung cancer: this type of cancer develops anywhere in the lungs, allowing abnormal cells to multiply until a tumor forms. While many people who develop lung cancer are smokers, this form of cancer can also develop in those who have never smoked a day in their life. Early warning signs of lung cancer include:
- Vocal changes
- Chronic cough
- Bloody mucus when coughing
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling weak
- Unexpected weight loss
Since the early warning signs associated with lung cancer can also be caused by other respiratory conditions it is important to turn to an ear, nose, and throat doctor who will be able to perform the proper diagnostic tests to determine the cause of your symptoms.
If you are having trouble catching your breath it’s important that you find out why this is happening to you. Call your ENT doctor today for an evaluation.
Dealing with an earache can be quite painful. Children are often more likely to develop ear infections than adults, which is why it’s important to understand why ear infections happen and how to spot the warning signs. After all, the majority of children will experience at least one ear infection by the time they turn three years old.
Causes of Ear Infections
Within the ears lie Eustachian tubes, which are small passages that connect the middle ear to the back of throat. Every time you yawn or swallow the Eustachian tubes open, which is why when an ear infection occurs this causes pain and pressure whenever you sneeze or swallow. During an infection, the Eustachian tube either swell or become blocked, which causes fluid buildup within the middle ear.
There are many things that can cause an ear infection but the most common causes include:
- Changes in air pressure
- Common cold
As we mentioned above, children are more likely to experience ear infections because they have narrower Eustachian tubes. Children are also more likely to develop ear infections if they are dealing with another illness or infection such as a cold, are exposed to smoke or experience changes in climate or altitude.
Symptoms of an Ear Infection
Unfortunately, young children can’t always tell us when they are experiencing an ear infection; however, there are signs you can lookout for. A classic sign is pulling or tugging at the ear. You may also notice that your child is fussier than usual or cries when lying down. Your child may also become clingier.
If you notice pus draining from the ear or if your child is displaying sudden symptoms of hearing loss (e.g. not responding to vocal cues or sounds) then it’s time to bring them to an otolaryngologist as soon as possible. If your child’s ear infection is accompanied by a fever over 102 degrees F, it’s also important that you seek immediate medical care.
Of course, older children will be able to complain about pressure or pain in their ear, common signs of an infection. The pain may be dull and achy or it can be sharp and stabbing. Any ear pain warrants seeing an ENT doctor just to be on the safe side.
Treating Ear Infections
A simple ear exam is often all that’s needed to be able to diagnose an ear infection. While some ear infections will clear up on their own sometimes your ear, nose & throat doctor will provide you with antibiotic drops or even drops to help soothe pain. Children under 2 years old who have an ear infection will likely receive antibiotics.
Dealing with an ear infection? Think your child may have an infection? If so, an ENT doctor is the right person to turn to when these infections start brewing.