Throat, Nasal, Sinus & Allergy Problems & Their Treatment
At Dalton ENT in Dalton and Calhoun, Georgia, we have specialized training in identifying all problems associated with the ears, nose and throat - distinctive parts of your body that are all interconnected and in many senses work together as a system. When one part of this delicate system is having a problem, it can affect the others and significantly impact your health. Children are particularly susceptible to ear, nose and throat problems and frequently need specialized treatment.
Sore Throats, Hoarseness & Swallowing Problems
Infections resulting from bacteria or viruses are the main cause of sore throats and can make it difficult for you to swallow, talk and breathe. Sinus infections, allergies, airborne chemical irritants, can also contribute to a sore or "scratchy" throat. You can help alleviate the discomfort of your sore throat at home by increasing your fluid intake, taking over-the-counter pain relieving medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen as directed, and/or gargling with warm salt water. If your sore throat lasts for more than five to seven days or is accompanied by a persistent fever, you should see your doctor.
Sinusitis & Balloon Sinuplasty
An estimated 35 million patients suffer from sinus infections each year. The term “sinusitis” is used to describe an inflammatory condition of the paranasal sinuses that causes many symptoms, including nasal congestion, facial pain/pressure and nasal discharge accompanied by pus. Although most people think of the infection as involving the sinuses themselves, the truth is that the underlying process involves both the paranasal sinuses and the nasal cavity. For this reason, the term “rhinosinusitis” more accurately describes this disease.
Our ENT specialists have many years of experience in treating rhinosinusitis, including bacterial rhinosinusitis and fungal rhinosinusitis. We’re skilled in choosing the appropriate antibiotic therapy or topical fungicide.
Complicated sinus conditions can be more safely and effectively performed with CT image-guided functional endoscopic sinus surgery. Image guidance is a three-dimensional mapping system that combines real-time information and CT scans that show the exact position of surgical instruments using infrared signals. This way, we can navigate surgical instruments precisely through complex sinus passages and provide greater surgical relief than traditional methods, all the while decreasing discomfort and increasing safety.
For treatment of chronic sinus infections, Balloon Sinuplasty (BSP) is a non-invasive, outpatient procedure that uses a small and flexible "balloon catheter" to open up blocked or narrowed sinus passages to allow for drainage. The balloon catheter is inserted into the inflamed sinus, and the balloon is gently inflated to expanded the sinus opening. Saline is sprayed into the sinus to flush it out, then the balloon catheter is removed. Sinuses are left cleared without the need for incisions.
Nasal Obstruction & Nasal Surgery (Rhinoplasty)
In some cases, chronic breathing problems do not respond well to ordinary nasal treatment. Your doctor may recommend nasal surgery (rhinoplasty) to improve your breathing. Your nasal blockage may be the result of swelling caused by allergies or viruses, or it could be attributed to structural abnormalities.
Your septum (the partition between your nostrils) may be deviated -- crooked or bent due to an injury or abnormal growth -- which can partially or completely close one or both nasal passages. A deviated septum can be corrected with a specialized surgical procedure called septoplasty. Cosmetic changes to your nose are often performed at the same time, in a combination procedure called septorhinoplasty.
Overgrown turbinates (the tissues that line the inside of your nasal passages) can also cause nasal obstruction and may need treatment to reduce their size in order to expand your nasal passages. Turbinate overgrowth can be treated with freezing, injection, and partial removal.
Cartilage in your nose and its tip can also be weakened by age and hang downward, which causes the sides of your nose to collapse inward. This can cause noisy or restricted breathing due to obstructed air flow. If you are able to breathe better by lifting the tip of your nose, talk to your doctor about how septoplasty (rhinoplasty to reshape, trim or reposition portions of your septal bone and cartilage) may improve your breathing.
Rhinoplasty is typically an outpatient procedure. Because of the bruising and swelling resulting from nasal surgery, most patients prefer to stay home for about a week.
Tonsillitis & Adenoiditis
Your tonsils and adenoids are a part of your immune system. They are your body's "first line of defense" in that they “sample” viruses and bacteria that enter your body through your mouth or nose, which sometimes results in their becoming infected. Infected tonsils or adenoids will usually return to normal once the infecting virus or bacteria has run its course or been treated. However, they can become more of a problem than a help to your body when inflamed tonsils or adenoids cause airway obstructions, swallowing problems or repeated bacterial infections.
Tonsils and adenoids are similar to the lymph nodes or “glands” found in your neck, underarms and groin. Tonsils are the two round lumps on either side of the back of your throat -- you can see them when you open your mouth widely and look in the mirror. Adenoids, however, are not visible through the nose or mouth without special instruments. They are located high in your throat behind your nose and the roof of your mouth (soft palate).
The two most common problems affecting your tonsils and adenoids are recurrent nose and throat infections, which can occur with or without an accompanying ear infection, and significant enlargement -- this can cause sore throat, swallowing problems, nasal obstruction and/or breathing problems, even sleep problems. Abscesses around your tonsils, chronic tonsillitis, and infections of small pockets within your tonsils (characterized by white deposits that smell unpleasant) can also affect your tonsils and adenoids, making them sore and swollen. Where this can happen to a person at any age, it is most common among children.
Treatment for Tonsil & Adenoid Problems
Bacterial infections of the tonsils, especially those caused by streptococcus (a specific bacteria, one strain of which is the cause of what is commonly called "strep throat"), are first treated with antibiotics. When a person experiences recurrent infections despite antibiotic treatment, and/or difficulty breathing because of enlarged tonsils and or adenoids, your doctor may recommend surgical removal of the tonsils (tonsillectomy) and/or adenoids (adenoidectomy).
Chronic infections of your adenoids can affect other areas of your head, particularly your eustachian tubes (the passages between the inside of your ears and the back of back of your nose), which can in turn lead to frequent ear infections and buildup of fluid in your middle ear that may affect your ability to hear clearly. Studies have shown that removal of the adenoids (adenoidectomy) may help some children who experience chronic ear infections/earaches accompanied by fluid in the middle ear.
Both tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy are common procedures that are performed under a general anesthetic. They are typically outpatient procedures with a fast recovery that do not require an overnight hospital stay. After the surgery, you may experience fatigue and/or nausea as the anesthetic wears off. You may have some throat and/or ear pain. Occasionally, some patients experience bleeding from the nose or mouth, which is typically moderate and brief.
Allergies are more common than ever, affecting up to one-third of the population. People suffer with everything from allergic rhinitis and asthma to hay fever, eczema, food allergies, hives and sinusitis. Patients with allergies will benefit from our advanced, comprehensive allergy management program. For children and adults with suspected allergies, we provide comprehensive management of their allergic disorder.
In Dalton and Calhoun, we provide a fully staffed and dedicated allergy department and lab. We perform skin testing on 90% of our patients and blood tests as needed. When we determine that allergies are part of the problem, we develop a customized treatment plan involving three steps.
- Avoidance of the specific allergens (e.g. pollen, mold or dust mites) the patient is allergic to.
- Medication tailored to the patient and specific allergen.
- Immunotherapy delivered either by allergy shots or drops taken under the tongue (sublingually). Immunotherapy works by desensitizing the patient to the specific allergen to which they are allergic, and is typically administered over three to five years.
Other Allergy Treatment Options
When medical therapy and comprehensive management of allergies do not alleviate the patient’s symptoms, then surgery may be an option. We are highly experienced in performing functional nasal surgery to improve airways for breathing and cosmetic nasal surgery to improve your appearance.