I Sometimes Hear Ringing in My Ears. Is This Unusual?

Not at all, Tinnitus is the name for these head noises, and they are very common. Nearly 36 million Americans suffer from this discomfort. Tinnitus may come and go, or you may be aware of a continuous sound. It can vary in pitch from a low roar to a high squeal or whine, and you may hear it in one or both ears. When the ringing is constant, it can be annoying and distracting. More than seven million people are afflicted so severely that they cannot lead normal lives.

What is the Treatment for Tinnitus?

In most cases, there is no specific treatment for ear and head noise. If your otolaryngologist finds a specific cause of your tinnitus, he/she may be able to eliminate the noise. But, this determination may require extensive testing including X-rays, balance tests, and laboratory work. However, most causes cannot be identified. Occasionally, medicine may help the noise. The medications used are varied, and several may be tried to see if they help.

What Causes Post-Nasal Drip?

The glands in your nose and throat continually produce mucus (one to two quarts a day). It moistens and cleans the nasal membranes, humidifies air, traps and clears inhaled foreign matter, and fights infection. Although mucus normally is swallowed unconsciously, the feeling that it is accumulating in the throat or dripping from the back of your nose is called post-nasal drip. This feeling can be caused by excessive or thick secretions or by throat muscle and swallowing disorders.

What is Sinusitis?

Acute bacterial sinusitis is an infection of the sinus cavities caused by bacteria. It is usually preceded by a cold, allergy attack, or irritation by environmental pollutants.Unlike a cold or allergy, bacterial sinusitis requires a physician’s diagnosis and treatment with an antibiotic to cure the infection and prevent future complications. Normally, mucus collecting in the sinuses drains into the nasal passages. When you have a cold or allergy attack, your sinuses become inflamed and are unable to drain. This can lead to congestion and infection. Diagnosis of acute sinusitis is based on a physical examination and a discussion of your symptoms. Your doctor also may use X-rays of your sinuses or obtain a sample of your nasal discharge to test for bacteria.

Preventing Sinusitis

As always, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. To avoid developing sinusitis during a cold or allergy attack, keep your sinuses clear by:

Using an oral decongestant or a short course of nasal spray decongestant
Gently blowing your nose, blocking one nostril while blowing through the other
Drinking plenty of fluids to keep nasal discharge thin

Avoiding air travel. If you must fly, use a nasal spray decongestant before
takeoff to prevent blockage of the sinuses allowing mucus to drain

Avoiding contact with things that trigger allergy attacks. If you cannot, use
the over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines and/or prescription nasal
spray to control allergy attacks.

Allergy testing, followed by appropriate allergy treatments, may increase your
tolerance of allergy-causing substances

What causes Otitis Media?

Blockage of the Eustachian tube during a cold, allergy, or upper respiratory infection and the presence of bacteria or viruses lead to accumulation of fluid (a build-up of pus and mucus) behind the eardrum. This is the infection called acute otitis media. The build up of pressurized pus in the middle ear causes earache, swelling, and redness. Since the eardrum cannot vibrate properly, you or your child may have hearing problems.

Often after the acute infection has passed, the effusion remains and becomes chronic, lasting for weeks, months, or even years. This condition makes one subject to frequent recurrences of the acute infection and may cause difficulty in hearing.

How do allergy shots work? And, can I learn to give my own shots at home?

When a person receives an allergy injection, he is taking into his body a substance he is allergic to. The body begins building antibodies to fight this substance. As the dose is increased, the body continues to build more antibodies toward the offending allergen.

It’s a delicate balance. Increasing the dose too slowly can delay progress toward enough antibodies to control allergy symptoms. Increasing the dose too fast can cause severe reactions to the shot itself. Your physician will tell you the proper increments of increasing the dose.

However many other factors play a role. Some of these include fever or elevated allergy symptoms before the injection, higher level of exposure to the allergen in the environment, or too long an interval between injections. Any of these can tip the delicate balance and cause a serious systemic reaction to the shot.

A severe reaction can also be caused by human error resulting in a dose that is too strong. Sometimes a severe reaction occurs for no apparent reason.

Some physicians do allow self-administration of injections. It is the responsibility of these physicians or their staff to teach where and how to give the injections. They should also provide verbal and written instructions of when to withhold the injection, when to call the physician for further instructions, and what to do if a reaction occurs. These physicians prescribe an EpiPen to be used in case of severe reactions. Be sure you know when and how to use the EpiPen, and what to do next.  It is very important that your E.N.T. doctor know if you are taking a beta-blocker medication.  Beta-blockers affect allergy symptoms and treatments.  Your doctor will discuss this with you and this may affect your ability to administer your injections at home rather than in a clinical setting.  This is especially true if you also suffer from asthma.

When should I see an Otolaryngologist?

If you experience:
• Hoarseness lasting longer than two weeks especially if you smoke
• Pain not from a cold or flu
• Coughing up blood
• Difficulty swallowing
• Lump in the neck
• Loss or severe change in voice