Your nose and mouth are crucial in allowing you to partake in some of life’s key pleasures. When health problems affect these organs, your quality of life can be greatly diminished. Sinusitis, allergic rhinitis, a deviated septum, and other conditions can bring you misery. Let our head and neck physicians see what they can do to evaluate and treat your nose and/or mouth problems.
A deviated nasal septum (the division between the right and left nasal chambers) should equally divide the nasal passage. If one side is significantly less or greater than 50% it can interfere with breathing and is often treated with a septoplasty surgery.
There are a variety of sores that can occur in or around the mouth. Most are benign, but some may be indicative of cancer.
These small, creamy white ulcers have a red border and always appear inside the mouth. Canker sores can be painful, but they are not contagious. They usually heal in one-to-two weeks. Prescription drugs and over-the-counter topical treatments can help reduce the pain.
Also known as fever blisters, cold sores are fluid-filled blisters that form on the lips or around the mouth. Cold sores are usually caused by the herpes simplex virus, and are both contagious and painful. Fever, sunburn, trauma, hormonal changes or emotional upset can trigger their appearance. While there is currently no cure, cold sores can be treated with prescription ointments to help alleviate the pain. It is also important to wash your hands frequently and avoid sharing personal products to help prevent the spread of the infection to other people.
Also known as oral thrush, this mouth sore is caused by a fungal infection. Painful red and cream-colored patches form on moist areas of the mouth. Candidiasis can cause difficulties with swallowing and taste. It is most commonly seen by denture wearers or people who have problems with their immune systems. Sometimes it occurs as a result of an unrelated antibiotic treatment, which can decrease normal bacterial development in the mouth. Saliva substitutes and antifungal creams are used to treat candidiasis.
Chronic irritations inside the mouth, such as cheek chewing, dentures or braces, sometimes cause benign white patches to form inside the mouth. The treatment is to alleviate the irritation to allow for natural healing.
Leukoplakias consist of thick, white lesions that most commonly form beneath or around the tongue, cheeks or gums. Leukoplakias are painless, but can become cancerous over time. These mouth sores are most often seen in tobacco users. A biopsy may be needed to accurately diagnose leukoplakias.
Oral cancers appear as red or white patches of mouth tissue or small ulcers that look like canker sores, but are painless. Oral cancers usually form on the tongue or floor of the mouth, but can occur on any tissue in and around the mouth. This includes cancers of the tonsils, adenoids, uvula (soft palate), roof of the mouth (hard palate), inside the lining of the cheeks, the gums, teeth, lips, the area behind the wisdom teeth and salivary glands. Some of these lesions may be benign, others may be malignant, and still others are precancerous. The most common type of precancerous cells in the mouth are:
Leukoplakias: Leukoplakias consist of thick, white lesions that most commonly form beneath or around the tongue, cheeks or gums. These mouth sores are most often seen in tobacco users.
Erythroplakias: These lesions appear as a red, raised area in the mouth and have a higher incidence of becoming malignant than leukoplakias.
A biopsy is often needed to diagnose leukoplakias and erythroplakias. Squamous cell carcinomas are the most common type of oral cancer. Less common are lymphoma and salivery gland cancers. Most oral cancers occur in people age 45 and older. When cancers of the mouth do metastasize, they are most likely to spread to the lymph nodes in the neck. If you have a mouth sore that won’t heal, please contact our office and schedule an appointment with one of our otolaryngologists.
Also known as epistaxis, nosebleeda are an extremely common condition, with most people experiencing several nosebleeds throughout their lifetime.
Common causes for epistaxis include:
- Nose blowing
- Nose picking
- Inflammation from a cold, sinus infection, or allergies
- Medications, including nasal sprays
- Clotting Disorders
- Other, less common, causes include hereditary disorders, tumors, airflow disturbance or chemical exposure.
The goal with epistaxis prevention is to maintain a moist nasal passageway, as well as to minimize the amount of blood pressure inside your nasal blood vessels.
If you experience an episode of epistaxis try the following:
- Sit or stand with your head straight up (do NOT lie down)
- Place a cold washcloth on your neck
- Pinch the front of your nose to apply pressure 5-10 min
- Any nosebleed lasting longer than 10 -15 minutes should be evaluated by a medical provider.
Glands in your nose and throat continually produce mucus (one to two quarts a day). Mucus moistens and cleans the nasal membranes, humidifies air, traps and clears inhaled foreign matter, and fights infection. Although it is normally swallowed unconsciously, the feeling of it accumulating in the throat or dripping from the back of your nose is called post-nasal drip. This sensation can be caused by excessively thick secretions or by throat muscle and swallowing disorders.
Swallowing problems may result in accumulation of solids or liquids in the throat that may complicate or feel like post-nasal drip. When the nerves and muscles in the mouth, throat, and food passage (esophagus) aren’t interacting properly, overflow secretions can spill into the voice box (larynx) and breathing passages (trachea and bronchi), causing hoarseness, throat clearing, or coughing.
Swallowing problems may also be caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This is a backup of stomach contents and acid into the esophagus or throat. Heartburn, indigestion, and sore throat are common symptoms. GERD may be aggravated by lying down, especially following eating. Hiatal hernia, a pouch-like tissue mass where the esophagus meets the stomach, often contributes to the reflux.
Post-nasal drip often leads to a sore, irritated throat. Although there is usually no infection, the tonsils and other tissues in the throat may swell. This can cause discomfort or a feeling that there is a lump in the throat. Successful treatment of the post-nasal drip will usually clear up these throat symptoms.
Sinusitis is an inflammation of the membrane lining of any sinus, especially one of the paranasal sinuses. Acute sinusitis is a short-term condition that responds well to antibiotics and decongestants; chronic sinusitis is characterized by at least four recurrences of acute sinusitis. Either medication or surgery is a possible treatment.
More than 37 million Americans suffer from at least one episode of acute sinusitis each year. The prevalence of sinusitis has soared in the last decade, possibly due to increased pollution, urban sprawl, and increased resistance to antibiotics.