How to Know if you Need a Tonsillectomy

Is it a simple sore throat or tonsillitis?

Is it a simple sore throat or tonsillitis?

Sore throats are a dime a dozen, especially as the temperatures drop and we head into the cold and flu season that begins in September and runs through February. But sometimes, what you’re experiencing is far more serious than a run-of-the-mill throat infection. It just may be tonsillitis.

Because they produce certain types of disease-fighting white blood cells, your tonsils are considered your immune system’s first line of defense against bacteria and viruses that enter your mouth. Unfortunately, this means that your tonsils themselves are particularly vulnerable to inflammation or infection. What you think is a garden variety sore throat may actually be tonsillitis if it’s accompanied by:

  • Pain on one side of the throat
  • Painful or difficult swallowing
  • Hoarseness in your voice
  • High fever
  • Enlarged or swollen lymph nodes or glands in your neck
  • A white or yellow coating on your tonsils
  • Severe or recurring sore throat

Another clue is in the frequency of symptoms. A single case of tonsillitis likely will pass in about 10 days in children, slightly longer in adults. However, if you experience multiple episodes of tonsillitis in year, a tonsillectomy may be in order.

But a sore throat isn’t the only reason to consider a tonsillectomy. Obstructive sleep apnea, a potentially serious disorder in which the throat muscles intermittently relax, blocking your airway and causing your breathing to repeatedly stop and start during sleep, also can be effectively addressed with a tonsillectomy.

If you have children, be aware that tonsillitis is more common in pre-pubescent youth because that’s the period during which the tonsil’s immune system function is most active. However, the condition can hit at any age.

If you believe you or your children are suffering a bout of tonsillitis or may be in need of a tonsillectomy, St. Augustine Ear, Nose & Throat can help. Call 904-461-6060 to schedule a consultation at our St. Augustine or Ponte Vedra locations.

New Study Finds Sleep Apnea May Cause Hearing Loss

Daytime drowsiness is a known sign of sleep apnea. But new research suggests the condition also could be to blame for hearing loss.

Daytime drowsiness is a known sign of sleep apnea. But new research suggests the condition also could be to blame for hearing loss.

The known effects of sleep apnea are many, including a diminished sleep quality, headaches, memory and concentration problems, mood swings, dry mouth, sore throat, inflammation, and cardiovascular and endocrine problems. But results of a new study may add another ailment to the list of sleep apnea symptoms – hearing loss.

Researchers conducting the study found that sleep apnea was associated with hearing impairment in study participants at both high and low frequencies. Results also suggest that the connection between sleep apnea and hearing loss may involve a combination of factors that cause inflammation and abnormal functioning in the blood vessels may play a role.

Upward of 18 million American have sleep apnea, according to statistics from the National Sleep Foundation. It’s primarily marked by loud snoring with periods of gasping or snorting noises, and disrupted sleep that can leave you fatigued throughout the day and make day-to-day tasks difficult or even dangerous. For instance, car crashes caused by drivers falling asleep at the wheel result in a higher number of fatalities than do accident attributed to other causes.

Researchers reviewed data from nearly 14,000 US participants who completed in-home sleep studies and audiometric (hearing) testing and found that sleep apnea was associated with:

  • A 31-percent increase in high frequency hearing impairment;
  • A 90-percent increase in low frequency hearing impairment;
  • A38-percent increase in both high and low frequency hearing loss.

The researchers’ findings lend support to the premises that sleep apnea likely does not occur in isolation, but instead may be a cumulative result of multiple underlying health conditions and lifestyle choices. Risk factors can include excessive weight, advanced age, smoking, use of alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers and even race.

“Sleep apnea is more of a systemic and chronic disease than just something that happens when you’re sleeping,” said one of the study’s authors, Dr. Neomi Shah, an associate director of the pulmonary sleep lab at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.

If you believe you or someone you love may have sleep apnea, understand that it is indeed a chronic condition that may require lifelong management. But with proper and consistent treatment, you (and your spouse) can finally enjoy the kind of solid, restorative sleep that’s critical to your overall health, safety and quality of life.

When Snoring Gets Serious – How to Know if You Have Sleep Apnea

Feel like nodding off at work? You may have sleep apnea.

Feel like nodding off at work? You may have sleep apnea.

Snoring elicits plenty of jokes, not to mention bruises from elbow jabs by sleeping partners. But when it’s more than a simple snore, it’s no laughing matter. In fact, loud habitual snoring can be a telltale sign that you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a potentially life threatening disorder.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition in which your breathing pauses or significantly slows while you’re sleeping because the airway has become narrowed, blocked or floppy. Affecting one in five adults, OSA can involve a variety of obstruction types including excess tissue, large tonsils or tongue or a problem with the airway muscles, nasal passages or jaw position. Such obstructions cause momentary cessations of breathing or “apneas” and your impulses respond by waking you.

Mild sleep apnea sufferers generally have more than 30 apneas during a seven-hour sleep. In severe cases, one may be unable to breathe for periods of 60 to 90 seconds, and this may recur up to 500 times a night. Depending upon the severity of your case, OSA symptoms can affect multiple areas of your life, work, relationships and health:

  • Excessive daytime drowsiness
  • Gasping or choking during sleep
  • Restless sleep
  • Problem with mental function
  • Poor judgment or inability to focus
  • Memory loss
  • Quick temper
  • High blood pressure
  • Nighttime chest pain
  • Depression or mood swings
  • Excess weight gain
  • Sore throat
  • Enlargement of the neck
  • Airway crowding
  • Morning headaches
  • Reduced libido
  • Frequent nighttime bathroom trips

Left untreated, OSA can pose serious health risks including heart attacks, strokes, irregular heart beat or hear t disease. Though sleep apnea is a chronic condition typically requiring lifelong treatment, there are multiple options for managing your case and significantly reducing related life-threatening issues. If you suffer sleep apnea and are ready for a good night’s sleep, contact St. Augustine Ear, Nose & Throat at 904-461-6060 or via our online appointment scheduling form.