St. Augustine Ear, Nose & Throat Holds Grand Opening Celebration

In celebration of its beautiful new Ponte Vedra location, St. Augustine Ear, Nose & Throat is holding a grand opening celebration on Wednesday, Sept. 30, at 4pm – and you’re invited! Located in The Shoppes at St. Johns Oaks at 145 Hidden Road, Suite 123, the firm serves area residents with expert management of ear, nose and throat disorders, thyroid disease, allergies and medical spa procedures.

Founder and nationally renowned physician Dr. Kalpana DePasquale and her dedicated staff, including Dr. Zeeshan Aziz, MD, a board-certified ENT and thyroid specialist and aesthetic reconstructive facial plastic surgeon; and Amy Dugan, PA-C, a long-time physician assistant with experience in critical care, infectious disease and OBGYN, will be on hand to mingle with fellow members of the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce as well as current and prospective patients, friends and their families. Dr. DePasquale is board certified in otolaryngology, head and neck surgery and facial plastic surgery.

The beautifully appointed facility opened during the summer and features spacious reception areas; separate waiting rooms and exam rooms for patients of both St. Augustine Ear, Nose and Throat and its sister firm, Avanti Medical Spa; plus procedure and treatment rooms. Patients are welcome for walk-in and scheduled appointments Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9am-4pm and Wednesday, 9am-noon.

Stop by to meet the staff; enjoy heavy hors d’oeuvres, wine, beer and a variety of non-alchoholic beverages; and take a chance on winning door prizes and raffles with all raffle proceed benefiting the 26.2 with Donna Foundation to support breast cancer research and care. The event is sponsored by Acclarent, Propel, Nurse on Call and A1 Imaging.

Feeling Dizzy? It May Signal Meniere’s Disease

The source of your dizzy spells may be an inner ear condition called Meniere's Disease.

The source of your dizzy spells may be an inner ear condition called Meniere’s Disease.

If you’re prone to experiencing dizzy spells, it may be a sign of an inner ear disorder called Meniere’s disease. Named for the French physician Prosper Ménière, who, in an article published in 1861, first reported that vertigo was caused by inner ear disorders, the condition can cause any of these primary symptoms:

  • Vertigo: Spontaneous and recurring episodes of vertigo, a sensation similar to that of spinning around quickly several times, then stopping suddenly, are a common and troubling symptom of Meniere’s Disease. You may feel as if the room is still spinning and possibly lose your balance. These episodes come on without warning and typically last between 20 minutes and two hours, though they can persist up to 24 hours. Severe vertigo can cause nausea and vomiting.
  • Hearing loss: In the early stages of the disease, hearing loss may fluctuate. But most victims eventually experience some degree of permanent hearing loss.
  • Tinnitus: Tinnitus is the perception of a ringing, buzzing, roaring, whistling or hissing sound in your ear.
  • Fullness or pressure: Those with Meniere’s disease often feel aural fullness or increased pressure in the ear.

Meniere’s Disease is thought to be caused by an imbalance of the volume, pressure and chemical composition of fluid in the ear. Factors that can alter the properties of inner ear fluid and may trigger the disease include migraine headaches, trauma to the head, allergies, an abnormal immune response, a viral infection or improper fluid draining, typically caused by a blockage or anatomic abnormality.

Of all the symptoms, vertigo arguably is the most debilitating, as it can cause a victim to lose time from work, family, social and other obligations. It also boosts the risk of potentially dangerous falls, accidents while driving or operating heavy machinery and bouts of emotional stress, depression or anxiety.

Meniere’s Disease primarily affects people in their 40s and 50s, but it can strike at any age, even during childhood. Although it’s considered a chronic disease, it can be treated. Specialists at St. Augustine Ear, Nose & Throat can develop a customized treatment plan designed to relieve symptoms and minimize long-term impact of the condition on your daily life. If you or your dependent suffer any of the symptoms men tioned, call 904-461-6060 and schedule a consultation.

St. Augustine Ear, Nose & Throat Expands with New Ponte Vedra Beach Location

St. Augustine Ear, Nose and Throats new Ponte Vedra Beach location will open in April.

St. Augustine Ear, Nose and Throats new Ponte Vedra Beach location will open in April.

For over a decade, St. Augustine Ear, Nose and Throat has served Northeast Florida residents with management of ear, nose and throat disorders, thyroid disease, allergies and medical spa procedures. Now, the practice founded by the nationally renowned Dr. Kalpana DePasquale is expanding into the Ponte Vedra area.

Slated to open in early April, the new SAENT office space is currently undergoing a build-out in The Shoppes at St. Johns Oaks at 145 Hilden Road, Suite 123. When the construction dust settles, the space will feature spacious reception areas; separate waiting rooms and exam rooms for patients of both St. Augustine Ear, Nose and Throat and its sister firm, Avanti Medical Spa; plus procedure and treatment rooms. Patients will be welcomed via a natural stone entryway and made to feel at home in the beautifully appointed space.

Joining Dr. DePasquale at the new location are Dr. Zeeshan Aziz, MD, a board-certified ENT and thyroid specialist and aesthetic reconstructive facial plastic surgeon; and Amy Dugan, PA-C, a long-time physician assistant with experience in critical care, infectious disease and OBGYN.

Upon its early April opening, the new office will take both scheduled and walk-in appointments Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9am-4pm and Wednesday, 9am-noon. Services will include a range of advanced ENT and minimally-invasive cosmetic procedures. Plus, retail space will be devoted to products by Avanti Rx, Dr. DePasquale’s physician-formulated, botanical skin care line.

If you or your child suffer ear, nose or throat issues, call 904-461-6060 to schedule an appointment at our primary location at 1301 Plantation Island Drive S. in St. Augustine, or our new Ponte Vedra Beach office.

January is National Thyroid Awareness Month

Thyroid disorders can wreak havoc on your health, but are treatable.

Thyroid disorders can wreak havoc on your health, but are treatable.

By far, the most common New Year’s resolution in America and perhaps worldwide is to lose weight. But if you’ve had trouble reaching your weight loss goals year after year, it may be something other than your will power that’s to blame. January is National Thyroid Awareness Month, and a top related issue just happens to be hypothyroidism-related weight gain.

Your thyroid is a large, ductless gland in the neck that secretes hormones responsible for regulating growth and development via your metabolism rate. Two primary thyroid disorders are hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, both of which can affect your overall health.

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland fails to make enough thyroid hormones, upsetting the normal balance of chemical reactions in your body. Symptoms can take years to appear and most notably include weight gain that cannot otherwise be explained. Despite cutting calories and exercising, the pounds just keep piling on. This can further compound other symptoms including depression, fatigue, constipation, hair loss, constantly feeling cold and irregular menstrual cycles in women.

The flip side of this coin is hyperthyroidism, caused by the thyroid gland producing more thyroid hormones than the body needs. Common symptoms include otherwise unexplained weight loss, diarrhea, palpitations, feeling anxious or jittery, trouble sleeping, excessive sweating, feeling hot and, as with hypothyroidism, irregular periods in women.

“Thyroid disorders are sometimes hard to diagnose, because symptoms of over-active and under-active thyroid may be similar to those associated with aging, depression or other life changing events,” said Zeeshan S. Aziz, MD, a thyroid specialist with St. Augustine Ear, Nose & Throat. He noted that women are up to five times more likely than men to have a thyroid condition.

The good news is that multiple treatment options exist for hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, including anti-thyroid medication, radioactive iodine and or surgery. If you’re experiencing symptoms that you suspect may be the result of a thyroid condition, call 904-461-6060 and schedule a consultation with St. Augustine Ear, Nose & Throat today.

SAENT Warns Parents of Hearing Loss Dangers

Teens love their music - and they love it loud. Make your your kids know the risks of hearing loss associated with earbuds and high volumes.

Teens love their music – and they love it loud. Make your your kids know the risks of hearing loss associated with earbuds and high volumes.

Christmas is just around the corner and if you’re the parent of a teenager, it’s practically a given that his or her gift wish list includes a mobile phone, music player or other listening device. Before you head to the electronics aisle, St. Augustine Ear, Nose and Throat founder Dr. Kalpana DePasquale offers advice that could make a major difference in your teen’s auditory health.

“When it comes to listening, having a teenager can be similar to having a two year old,” Dr. DePasquale said, echoing the frustrations of many a parent. “However, it’s often unclear if they are just not listening or if they can’t hear you.”

In her practice, Dr. DePasquale sees a growing number of teenage, pre-teen and youth patients suffering some degree of hearing loss. She places much of the blame squarely on the increasing use of high-volume listening devices.

“Many communications devices that function as phones, music players, cameras, are now increasingly affordable and accessible to more children and teens,” she said. “Youth clothing is even designed to be fitted with electronic devices and headphones.”

While these devices certainly have a cool factor that makes them popular with young people, they also pose the risk of potentially irreversible damage. Statistics show that one in five American teens will experience hearing loss – a rate that’s 30 percent higher than in the 1980s and 1990s.

“Parents need to inform their teens about noise exposure and how it’s linked to hearing loss,” Dr. DePasquale said. “Young people must understand that noise-induced hearing loss can be prevented. However, once the young person is diagnosed with hearing loss, it is irreversible. Hearing can be
amplified with a hearing aid, but there is no cure.”

If you plan to place a smartphone, music player or other listening device under the tree this Christmas, make sure your teen understands and adheres to the 60/60 rule: “There is a helpful 60/60 rule that states the maximum duration of volume that is greater than 60 percent of the maximum volume should be 60 minutes,” said Dr. DePasquale explains. “Volumes higher than 85 decibels can cause hearing damage and high-pitched sounds can cause damage more easily than lower pitched sounds.”

Some devices like the ever-popular iPod have a setting for volume limits that can be adjusted to 60 percent. Check for this feature before making a purchase. Rather than earbuds that sit precariously at the entrance of the ear canal, go retro and choose the older-style headphones that are placed over the ears instead. And, make sure that teens don’t wear earbuds or headphones while sleeping.

Red-flag indications that your child or teen already has suffered hearing loss include complaints of muffled sounds or of ringing, roaring, hissing or buzzing sounds in the ear; listening to the TV or radio at higher volumes; and difficulty understanding speech. If your child experiences any of these, it’s critical that he or she sees an Otolaryngologist or ear, nose and throat physician for a hearing evaluation. Call 904-461-6060 to schedule an appointment with St. Augustine Ear, Nose and Throat.

Five Most Common Allergy Triggers

Owning a pet offers multiple health benefits, but may also trigger allergies.

Owning a pet offers multiple health benefits, but may also trigger allergies.

Statistics show that some 20 percent of people develop allergies of some sort. Allergic reactions develop when the immune system overreacts to an otherwise harmless antigen, resulting in a range of symptoms from sneezing to hives to life-threatening anaphylaxis. While potential allergens are innumerable, there are a few common culprits.

  1. Pollen: Multiple varieties of trees, grasses, weeds and flowers produce pollen that can trigger hay fever or seasonal allergies. Most result in irritating, but non-life-threatening reactions like sneezing, runny nose and watery or itchy eyes.
  2. Pet dander: The physical and emotional health benefits of owning a pet are countless. But life with Fido and Fluffy can be tough if you suffer allergies. That’s because of pet dander, a protein mix secreted in an animal’s skin and saliva that can trigger allergic reactions.
  3. Dust Mites: You can’t see them, but you sure can feel the effects of their presence if you’re prone to allergies. These microscopic buggers live in house dust and feed on pollen, fungi, bacteria and dead skin that naturally falls from humans and animals daily.
  4. Insect stings and bites: Stings and bites by honeybees, yellow jackets, hornets, wasps and fire ants can cause mild to severe allergic reactions including swelling of the face, mouth, tongue and throat, as well as difficulty breathing and low blood pressure, itching and hives.
  5. Molds: Multiple types of molds can grow in persistently damp or wet areas like bathrooms and basements that lack adequate ventilation.

Other common allergens include certain foods and medications, latex, fragrances and – believe it or not – cockroaches. Many allergic reactions can be avoided by keeping your home clean and dust-free, using a home air filtration system, changing your air conditioning filters regularly, clearing your home of dust collectors like stuffed animals and certain types of carpet and bathing your pet regularly. If you suffer from allergies or hay fever, contact St. Augustine Ear, Nose &Throat at 904-461-6060 and schedule a consultation with an allergy specialist.

That Smell! Common Reasons for Olfactory Loss

Our sense of smell is an underestimated boost to our quality of life. So when it's lost, medical treatment is critical.

Our sense of smell is an underestimated boost to our quality of life. So when it’s lost, medical treatment is critical.

Breakfast on the griddle, jasmine in the garden, your lover’s favorite perfume – No doubt each of these conjure a particular pleasing emotion. After all, our sense of smell, more than any other of the senses, is psychologically linked with memory and can have a profound effect on the ways in which we connect with the world around us.

So, imagine for a moment, that you’ve lost your sense of smell. Scary, isn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s an all-too-common occurrence. Among the top direct or indirect contributing factors to a partial or full loss of the ability to smell are:

  • Nasal obstructions (nasal polyps)
  • Degenerative nerve disease
  • Exposure to hazardous chemicals, such as pesticides or solvents
  • Head and neck cancers and related radiation treatments
  • Chronic respiratory infections
  • Oral disease
  • Radiation therapy
  • Dementia, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s
  • Traumatic head injuries
  • Hormonal disturbances
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Obesity
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Certain medications or drug abuse
  • Advanced age

Any of these conditions can negatively affect the functionality of not only your olfactory nerve cells (those responsible for your sense of smell) but also your gustatory nerve cells (those responsible for taste). And that loss of functionality can affect not only your quality of life, but your safety and perhaps your very life as well. For example, the smell of certain gasses, smoke or spoiled foods can alert us to danger, allowing us to act before it’s too late. And, research on the psychology of smell shows that body odor, produced by the genes which make up our immune system, can help us subconsciously choose our life partners.

While most people would report a loss of sight or hearing as a top worry, it’s clear that the loss of smell is a far underestimated misfortune. Fortunately, however, help is available.

If you suspect you’re beginning to lose your sense of smell, a highly trained otolaryngologist can perform a thorough examination of your head and neck to pinpoint signs of infections, inflammation or physical obstruction that may be affecting your sense of smell or taste. Treatment options may include prescription or over-the-counter medications including decongestants or antibiotics, or surgery to remove nasal polyps or other obstructions. Your doctor may also recommend lifestyle changes, including nixing your smoking habit.

To find out which treatment option may best address your loss of smell, contact St. Augustine Ear, Nose & Throat at 904-461-6060 or via our online email form.

Preventable Causes of Tinnitus

Multiple common causes of tinnitus are preventable.

Multiple common causes of tinnitus are preventable.

It’s enough to drive you batty – that persistent ringing, buzzing, hissing or chirping sound in your ears. Luckily, the condition known as tinnitus can be managed with specially designed hearing aids that allow patients to adjust their preferred sound stimulus. But as they say, prevention is the best cure. Fortunately, several of the most common causes of tinnitus are preventable.

The delicate hairs located in your inner ear move with the pressure of sound waves. That movement triggers ear cells to release an electrical signal via an auditory nerve to your brain. Tinnitus occurs when those tiny hairs are bent or broken, sending random electrical pulses to your brain.

Common preventable causes of tinnitus include:

  • Exposure to loud noise from heavy equipment, firearms and extended listening to loud music, especially through earphones;
  • Earwax buildup and blockage. The purpose of earwax is to protect your ear canal by trapping dust and dirt, and to impede bacterial growth. But when too much earwax accumulates, it can be tough to wash away naturally;
  • Taking medications including certain antibiotics, cancer medications, water pills, quinine medications and antidepressants, or taking aspirin in unusually high doses;
  • Head or neck injuries, often caused by falls, automobile accidents or failure to wear proper safety gear when playing sports;
  • Repeated movement or exercise that places the neck in a hyper-extended position, such as when riding a bicycle;
  • Severe weight loss from malnutrition or excessive dieting;
  • High blood pressure, often brought on by stress;
  • Drinking an excessive amount of alcohol or caffeinated beverages.

Protect your ears by wearing earplugs when you know you’ll be around heavy equipment or firearms; playing music at a reasonable volume and avoiding wearing earphones; varying your exercise routine; managing stress and limiting your alcohol and caffeine intake. If you do develop persistent tinnitus, call 904-461-6060 and schedule an appointment with a specialist at St. Augustine Ear, Nose & Throat.

Get Ready for the Onslaught of Fall Allergens, Allergy Specialists in St. Augustine Say

Late summer rains mean autumn allergies may be tougher this year.

Late summer rains mean autumn allergies may be tougher this year.

The fall season is upon us. For most, that means hay rides, bonfires and, before you know it, Christmas tree decorating. But if you’re among the estimated 40 million Americans suffering fall allergies, the holiday season isn’t quite so happy, say allergy specialists with St. Augustine’s St. Augustine Ear, Nose & Throat.

June begins Jacksonville’s rainiest season, peaking in September with an average eight inches of rainfall. While the rain does help wash away the pollen, there’s a catch that allergy sufferers know all too well. Before washing the pollen away, raindrops will burst pollen particles, releasing tiny specks of it into the air at much higher concentrations. When patients inhale this fragmented pollen, it can trigger an allergic reaction.

This year, the ordeal may be worse than normal for allergy patients in Northeast Florida, thanks to record rainfall in parts of the South. All that rain has ragweed and grass pollen flourishing. And where there’s rain, there often soon is mold. Heavy rainfall mixed with the seasonal dying off of trees and plants means damp, decaying plant matter – a breeding ground for mold. Though you don’t see it, microscopic mold spores can fill the air around you.

As the holiday season progresses, so too does the risk of allergic reactions. Seasonal greenery, wood-burning fires, and mold that settles into damp evergreens like wreaths, boughs and Christmas trees are common seasonal allergens that can wreak havoc on your holidays.

To help keep your allergies at bay during the holiday season, call 904-461-6060 and schedule a consultation with an allergy specialist at St. Augustine Ear, Nose & Throat.