More than 20 percent of U.S. residents will be 65 or older in 2030. Of all Americans 65 and older, 14.1 percent report that they suffer from chronic sinusitis; for those 75 years and older, the rate declines to 13.5 percent.

Geriatric Rhinitis Complaints Are:

  • Constant need to clear the throat
  • A sense of nasal obstruction
  • Nasal crusting
  • Vague facial pressure
  • Decreased sense of smell and taste

For the most part, sinusitis symptoms, diagnosis and treatment are the same for the elderly as other adult age groups. However, there are special considerations for older Americans.

Changing Physiology:

With aging, the physiology and function of the nose changes. The nose lengthens, and the nasal tip begins to droop due to weakening of the supporting cartilage. This in turn causes a restriction of nasal airflow, particularly at the nasal valve region (where the upper and lower lateral cartilages meet). Narrowing in this area results in the complaint of nasal obstruction, often referred to as geriatric rhinitis.

Patients with geriatric rhinitis typically complain of constant sinus drainage, a chronic need to clear the throat or “hawk” mucus, and a sense of nasal obstruction, most often when they lie down. Other features include nasal crusting especially in the winter and in patients taking diuretics, vague facial pressure (attributed to “sinus trouble”), and a decreased sense of smell and taste.

However, it is a mistake to blame all upper respiratory problems on the aging process. Elderly patients with symptoms such as repeated sneezing, and watery eyes, nasal obstruction with clear profuse watery runny nose, and soft, pale turbinates (top-shaped bones in the nose) may have allergic rhinitis. Patients with this diagnosis will benefit from consultation with an otolaryngic allergist.

Patients with chronic sinusitis will have a long history of thick drainage that is often foul smelling and tasting and is associated with nasal obstruction, headaches and facial pressure. These patients usually have pus drainage and nasal redness. In contrast, the geriatric rhinitis patient usually has a dry, irritated nose. The diagnosis of chronic sinusitis can be confirmed with a computed tomography scan (CT scan) of the sinuses.

Sinusitis or rhinosinusitis, which is it? In recent studies, otolaryngologist – head and neck surgeons have concluded that sinusitis is often preceded by rhinitis and rarely occurs without concurrent rhinitis. The symptoms, nasal obstruction/discharge and loss of smell, occur in both disorders. Symptoms associated with rhinosinusitis include nasal obstruction, nasal congestion, nasal discharge, nasal purulence, postnasal drip, facial pressure and pain, alteration in the sense of smell, cough, fever, halitosis, fatigue, dental pain, pharyngitis, otologic symptoms (e.g., ear fullness and clicking) and headache. Patients with documented chronic sinusitis unresponsive to medications should be referred to an otolaryngologist.

Osteoporosis:

Osteoporosis is a significant health problem in the United States affecting approximately 24 million Americans, 15 to 20 million of whom are women over 45 years of age. Because of the concerns regarding prolonged estrogen use in postmenopausal women, a nasal calcitonin spray is sometimes prescribed to prevent bone loss. The most common side effect reported with nasal calcitonin spray is a runny nose. Other symptoms that may occur include nasal crust, dryness, redness, irritation, sinusitis, nosebleeds and headache. Sinusitis sufferers using a nasal calcitonin spray should inform their physicians.

Medications For Geriatric Rhinitis:

Treatment for this age group needs to be more individualized to meet the patient’s slower metabolism and the increasing potential for side effects. The majority (80 to 85 percent) of the nation’s elderly have chronic diseases and take multiple drugs including over-the-counter medications, placing them at higher risk for drug interactions than other patients.

Surgery For Geriatric Rhinitis:

Nasal and sinus surgery is occasionally advised for older patients. Patients with structural abnormalities, such as a deviated septum or nasal valve collapse causing severe nasal problems, should be referred to an otolaryngologist for evaluation and possible surgical management.

Sources For Aging Patients:

Administration on Aging (AoA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Geriatrics.

© 2016 American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery

Not every headache is the consequence of sinus and nasal passage problems. For example, many patients visit an ear, nose and throat specialist to seek treatment for a sinus headache and learn they actually have a migraine or tension headache. The confusion is common – a migraine can cause irritation of the trigeminal or fifth cranial nerve (with branches in the forehead, cheeks and jaw). This may produce pain at the lower-end branches of the nerve, in or near the sinus cavity.

Symptoms Of Sinusitis

Pain in the sinus area does not automatically mean that you have a sinus disorder. On the other hand, sinus and nasal passages can become inflamed leading to a headache. Headache is one of the key symptoms of patients diagnosed with acute or chronic sinusitis. In addition to a headache, sinusitis patients often complain of:

  • Pain and pressure around the eyes, across the cheeks and the forehead
  • Achy feeling in the upper teeth
  • Fever and chills
  • Facial swelling
  • Nasal stuffiness
  • Yellow or green discharge

However, it is important to note that there are some cases of headaches related to chronic sinusitis without other upper respiratory symptoms. This suggests that an examination for sinusitis be considered when treatment for a migraine or other headache disorder is unsuccessful.

Treatment For A Sinus Headache

Sinus headaches are associated with a swelling of the membranes lining the sinuses (spaces adjacent to the nasal passages). Pain occurs in the affected region – the result of air, pus and mucus being trapped within the obstructed sinuses. The discomfort often occurs under the eye and in the upper teeth (disguised as a headache or toothache). Sinus headaches tend to worsen as you bend forward or lie down. The key to relieving the symptoms is to reduce sinus swelling and inflammation and facilitate mucous drainage from the sinuses.

There are several at-home steps that help prevent sinus headache or alleviate its pain. They include:

  • Breathe moist air: Relief for a sinus headache can be achieved by humidifying the dry air environment. This can be done by using a steam vaporizer or cool-mist humidifier, steam from a basin of hot water or steam from a hot shower.
  • Alternate hot and cold compresses: Place a hot compress across your sinuses for three minutes, and then a cold compress for 30 seconds. Repeat this procedure three times per treatment, two to six times a day.
  • Nasal irrigation: Some believe that when nasal irrigation or rinse is performed, mucus, allergy creating particles and irritants such as pollens, dust particles, pollutants and bacteria are washed away, reducing the inflammation of the mucous membrane. Normal mucosa will fight infections and allergies better and will reduce the symptoms. Nasal irrigation helps shrink the sinus membranes and thus increases drainage. There are several over-the-counter nasal rinse products available. Consult your ear, nose and throat specialist for directions on making a home nasal rinse or irrigation solution.
  • Over-the-counter medications: Some over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are highly effective in reducing sinus headache pain. The primary ingredient in most OTC pain relievers is aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen or a combination of them. The best way to choose a pain reliever is by determining which of these ingredients works best for you.
  • Decongestants: Sinus pressure headaches caused by allergies are usually treated with decongestants and antihistamines. In difficult cases, nasal steroid sprays may be recommended.
  • Alternative medicine: Chinese herbalists use Magnolia Flower as a remedy for clogged sinus and nasal passages. In conjunction with other herbs, such as angelica, mint and chrysanthemum, it is often recommended for upper respiratory tract infections and sinus headaches, although its effectiveness for these problems has not been scientifically confirmed.
    If none of these preventative measures or treatments is effective, a visit to an ear, nose and throat specialist may be warranted. During the examination, a CT scan of the sinuses may be ordered to determine the extent of blockage caused by chronic sinusitis. If no chronic sinusitis were found, treatment might then include allergy testing and desensitization (allergy shots). Acute sinusitis is treated with antibiotics and decongestants. If antibiotics fail to relieve the chronic sinusitis and accompanying headaches, endoscopic or image-guided surgery may be the recommended treatment.

© 2016 American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery

What Is A Fungus?

Fungi are plant-like organisms that lack chlorophyll. Since they do not have chlorophyll, fungi must absorb food from dead organic matter. Fungi share with bacteria the important ability to break down complex organic substances of almost every type (cellulose) and are essential to the recycling of carbon and other elements in the cycle of life. Fungi are supposed to “eat” only dead things, but sometimes they start eating when the organism is still alive. This is the cause of fungal infections; the treatment selected has to eradicate the fungus to be effective.

In the past 30 years, there has been a significant increase in the number of recorded fungal infections. This can be attributed to increased public awareness, new immunosuppressive therapies (medications such as cyclosporine that “fool” the body’s immune system to prevent organ rejection) and overuse of antibiotics (anti-infectives).

When the body’s immune system is suppressed, fungi find an opportunity to invade the body and a number of side effects occur. Because these organisms do not require light for food production, they can live in a damp and dark environment. The sinuses, consisting of moist, dark cavities, are a natural home to the invading fungi. When this occurs, fungal sinusitis results.

There Are Four Types Of Fungal Sinusitis:

Mycetoma Fungal Sinusitis produces clumps of spores, a “fungal ball,” within a sinus cavity, most frequently the maxillary sinuses. The patient usually maintains an effective immune system, but may have experienced trauma or injury to the affected sinus(es). Generally, the fungus does not cause a significant inflammatory response, but sinus discomfort occurs. The noninvasive nature of this disorder requires a treatment consisting of simple scraping of the infected sinus. An anti-fungal therapy is generally not prescribed.

Allergic Fungal Sinusitis (AFS) is now believed to be an allergic reaction to environmental fungi that is finely dispersed into the air. This condition usually occurs in patients with an immunocompetent host (possessing the ability to mount a normal immune response). Patients diagnosed with AFS have a history of allergic rhinitis, and the onset of AFS development is difficult to determine. Thick fungal debris and mucin (a secretion containing carbohydrate-rich glycoproteins) are developed in the sinus cavities and must be surgically removed so that the inciting allergen is no longer present. Recurrence is not uncommon once the disease is removed. Anti-inflammatory medical therapy and immunotherapy are typically prescribed to prevent AFS recurrence.

Note: A 1999 study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings asserts that allergic fungal sinusitis is present in a significant majority of patients diagnosed with chronic rhinosinusitis. The study found 96 percent of the study subjects with chronic rhinosinusitis to have a fungus in cultures of their nasal secretions. In sensitive individuals, the presence of fungus results in a disease process in which the body’s immune system sends eosinophils (white blood cells distinguished by their lobulated nuclei and the presence of large granules that attract the reddish-orange eosin stain) to attack fungi, and the eosinophils irritate the membranes in the nose. As long as fungi remain, so will the irritation.

Chronic Indolent Sinusitis is an invasive form of fungal sinusitis in patients without an identifiable immune deficiency. This form is generally found outside the US, most commonly in the Sudan and northern India. The disease progresses from months to years and presents symptoms that include chronic headache and progressive facial swelling that can cause visual impairment. Microscopically, chronic indolent sinusitis is characterized by a granulomatous inflammatory infiltrate (nodular shaped inflammatory lesions). A decreased immune system can place patients at risk for this invasive disease.

Fulminant Sinusitis is usually seen in the immunocompromised patient (an individual whose immunologic mechanism is deficient either because of an immunodeficiency disorder or because it has been rendered so by immunosuppressive agents). The disease leads to progressive destruction of the sinuses and can invade the bony cavities containing the eyeball and brain.

The recommended therapies for both chronic indolent and fulminant sinusitis are aggressive surgical removal of the fungal material and intravenous anti-fungal therapy.

© 2016 American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery

Have you ever felt like you had a cold that wouldn’t go away? If it hangs around for more than 10 days, or gets worse after it starts getting better, there’s a good chance you have sinusitis, a condition where infection or inflammation affects the sinuses.

What are the sinuses?

Sinuses are hollow spaces in the bones around the nose that connect to the nose through small, narrow channels. The sinuses stay healthy when the channels are open, which allows air from the nose to enter the sinuses and mucus made in the sinuses to drain into the nose.

What is sinusitis?

Sinusitis, also called rhinosinusitis, affects about 1 in 8 adults annually and generally occurs when viruses or bacteria infect the sinuses (often during a cold) and begin to multiply. Part of the body’s reaction to the infection causes the sinus lining to swell, blocking the channels that drain the sinuses. This causes mucus and pus to fill up the nose and sinus cavities.

How can I tell if I have acute sinusitis?

You have acute sinusitis when there has been up to 4 weeks of cloudy or colored (not clear) drainage from the nose plus one or both of the following:

  • a stuffy, congested or blocked nose or
  • pain, pressure or fullness in the face, head or around the eyes.
  • X-rays and CT scans are not usually necessary to diagnose acute sinusitis.

Acute Sinusitis: Diagnosed when symptoms last up to 4 weeks. It is usually caused by viruses or bacteria.

How can I tell if my acute sinusitis is caused by viruses or bacteria?

Acute viral sinusitis is likely if you have been sick less than 10 days and are not getting worse.
Acute bacterial sinusitis is likely when you do not improve at all within 10 days of getting sick or when you get worse within 10 days after beginning to get better.

Why is it important to tell if my sinusitis is caused by bacteria?

Because sinusitis is treated differently based on cause. Acute viral sinusitis does not benefit from antibiotics, but may be treated using pain relievers, steroid nasal sprays, or salt water irrigation in the nose. These treatments are good options for acute bacterial sinusitis too, but in addition, some patients with acute bacterial sinusitis may get better faster with an antibiotic.

What is chronic sinusitis?

Chronic Sinusitis: Lasts for 12 weeks or longer and is usually caused by prolonged inflammation, rather than a longstanding infection.
Chronic sinusitis lasts for a longer period of time than acute sinusitis and is likely caused by different things. Acute sinusitis is diagnosed when symptoms last up to 4 weeks. It is usually caused by viruses or bacteria. Chronic sinusitis is defined as lasting for 12 weeks or longer and is usually caused by prolonged inflammation, rather than a longstanding infection. Infection can be a part of chronic sinusitis, especially when it worsens from time to time, but is not usually the main cause.

Is chronic sinusitis treated differently than acute sinusitis?

Because chronic sinusitis is caused more by inflammation than infection, the treatments for chronic sinusitis are meant to control the inflammation. Salt water nasal irrigation and/or nasal steroid sprays are the main treatments for the symptoms of chronic sinusitis. It may help to look for other factors that can go along with chronic sinusitis and possibly make the problem worse, and have them treated too. Some of these factors are allergies, nasal polyps, asthma and problems with the body’s ability to fight infections.

Do I need surgery for my sinusitis?

Surgery for the sinuses is done when the symptoms can’t be controlled with medications and other treatments. The most common type of surgery for the sinuses is called endoscopic sinus surgery, because a pencil-sized scope (“endoscope”) is used to see inside the nose and sinuses and guide the surgery. The purpose of the surgery is to widen the natural drainage pathways between the sinuses and the nose, allowing mucus to get out of the sinuses and air to get in. Medications that are delivered to the surface of the nose and sinuses, like sprays and irrigations, can get into the sinuses better after surgery as well.

There are many over-the-counter saline solutions available, but patients can make their own saline solution at home:

  • 1 quart (4 cups) boiled or distilled water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon non-iodized salt

© 2016 American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery

The shape of your nasal cavity could be the cause of chronic sinusitis. The nasal septum is the wall dividing the nasal cavity into halves; it is composed of a central supporting skeleton covered on each side by mucous membrane. The front portion of this natural partition is a firm but bendable structure made mostly of cartilage and is covered by skin that has a substantial supply of blood vessels. The ideal nasal septum is exactly midline, separating the left and right sides of the nose into passageways of equal size.

Estimates are that 80 percent of all nasal septa are off-center, a condition that is generally not noticed. A “deviated septum” occurs when the septum is severely shifted away from the midline. The most common symptom from a badly deviated or crooked septum is difficulty breathing through the nose. The symptoms are usually worse on one side, and sometimes actually occur on the side opposite the bend. In some cases the crooked septum can interfere with the drainage of the sinuses, resulting in repeated sinus infections.

Septoplasty is the preferred surgical treatment to correct a deviated septum. This procedure is not generally performed on minors, because the cartilaginous septum grows until around age 18. Septal deviations commonly occur due to nasal trauma.

A deviated septum may cause one or more of the following:

  • Blockage of one or both nostrils
  • Nasal congestion, sometimes one-sided
  • Frequent nosebleeds
  • Frequent sinus infections
  • At times, facial pain, headaches, postnasal drip
  • Noisy breathing during sleep (in infants and young children)

In some cases, a person with a mildly deviated septum has symptoms only when he or she also has a “cold” (an upper respiratory tract infection). In these individuals, the respiratory infection triggers nasal inflammation that temporarily amplifies any mild airflow problems related to the deviated septum. Once the “cold” resolves, and the nasal inflammation subsides, symptoms of a deviated septum often resolve, too.

Diagnosis of a Deviated Septum:

Patients with chronic sinusitis often have nasal congestion, and many have nasal septal deviations. However, for those with this debilitating condition, there may be additional reasons for the nasal airway obstruction. The problem may result from a septal deviation, reactive edema (swelling) from the infected areas, allergic problems, mucosal hypertrophy (increase in size), other anatomic abnormalities, or combinations thereof. A trained specialist in diagnosing and treating ear, nose and throat disorders can determine the cause of your chronic sinusitis and nasal obstruction.

Your First Visit:

After discussing your symptoms, the primary care physician or specialist will inquire if you have ever incurred severe trauma to your nose and if you have had previous nasal surgery. Next, an examination of the general appearance of your nose will occur, including the position of your nasal septum. This will entail the use of a bright light and a nasal speculum (an instrument that gently spreads open your nostril) to inspect the inside surface of each nostril.

Surgery may be the recommended treatment if the deviated septum is causing troublesome nosebleeds or recurrent sinus infections. Additional testing may be required in some circumstances.

Septoplasty:

Septoplasty is a surgical procedure performed entirely through the nostrils, accordingly, no bruising or external signs occur. The surgery might be combined with a rhinoplasty, in which case the external appearance of the nose is altered and swelling/bruising of the face is evident. Septoplasty may also be combined with sinus surgery.

The time required for the operation averages about one to one-and-a-half hours, depending on the deviation. It can be done with a local or a general anesthetic, and is usually done on an outpatient basis. After the surgery, nasal packing is inserted to prevent excessive postoperative bleeding. During the surgery, badly deviated portions of the septum may be removed entirely, or they may be readjusted and reinserted into the nose.

If a deviated nasal septum is the sole cause for your chronic sinusitis, relief from this severe disorder will be achieved.

© 2016 American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery

What is cleft lip and cleft palate?

We all start out life with a cleft lip and palate. During normal fetal development between the 6th and 11th week of pregnancy, the clefts in the lip and palate fuse together. In babies born with cleft lip or cleft palate, one or both of these splits failed to fuse.

A cleft means a split or separation; the palate is the roof of the mouth. A cleft palate or lip then is a split in the oral (mouth) structure. Physicians call clefting a craniofacial anomaly. A child can be born with both a cleft lip and cleft palate or a cleft in just one area. Oral clefts are one of the most common birth defects.

Clefts in the lip can range from a tiny notch in the upper lip to a split that extends into the nose. A cleft palate can range from a small malformation that results in minimal problems to a large separation of the palate that interferes with eating, speaking and even breathing. Clefts are often referred to as unilateral, a split on one side, or bilateral, one split on each side. There are three primary types of clefts:

  • Cleft lip/palate refers to the condition when both the palate and lip are cleft. About one in 1,000 babies are born with cleft lip/palate.
    • About 50 percent of all clefts
    • More common in Asians and certain groups of American Indians
    • Occurs less frequently in African Americans
    • Up to 13 percent of cases present with other birth defects
    • Occurs more often in male children
  • Isolated cleft palate is the term used when a cleft occurs only in the palate. About one in 2,000 babies are born with this type of cleft (the incidence of submucous cleft palate, a type of isolated cleft palate, is one in 1,200).
    • About 30 percent of all clefts
    • All racial groups have similar risk
    • Occurs more often in female children
  • Isolated cleft lip refers to a cleft in the lip only accounting for 20 percent of all clefts.

What causes clefts?

No one knows exactly what causes clefts, but most believe they are caused by one or more of three main factors: an inherited characteristic (gene) from one or both parents, environment (poor early pregnancy health or exposure to toxins such as alcohol or cocaine), and genetic syndromes. A syndrome is an abnormality in genes on chromosomes that result in malformations or deformities that form a recognizable pattern. Cleft lip/palate is a part of more than 400 syndromes including Waardenburg, Pierre Robin and Down syndromes. Approximately 30 percent of cleft deformities are associated with a syndrome, so a thorough medical evaluation and genetic counseling is recommended for cleft patients.

How is a cleft diagnosed?

Clefting of the lip and palate is usually visible during the baby’s first examination. One exception is a submucous cleft where the palate is cleft, but remains covered by smooth, unbroken lining of the mouth. A child with cleft lip or palate is often referred to a multidisciplinary team of experts for treatment. The team may include: an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat specialist), plastic surgeon, oral surgeon, speech pathologist, pediatric dentist, orthodontist, audiologist, geneticist, pediatrician, nutritionist and psychologist/social worker.

How are clefts treated?

Treatment of clefts is highly individual, depending on the overall health of the child and the severity and location of the cleft(s). Multiple surgeries and long-term follow-up are often necessary. Because clefts can interfere with physical, language and psychological development, treatment is recommended as early as possible. Surgery to repair a cleft lip is usually done between 10 and 12 weeks of age. A cleft palate is repaired through a procedure called palatoplasy, which is done between nine and 18 months. Additional surgeries are often needed to achieve the best results. In addition to surgery, the child may receive follow-up care from members of the multidisciplinary team on issues of speech, hearing, growth, dental and psychological development.

What are the complications of clefts?

The complications of cleft lip and cleft palate can vary greatly depending on the degree and location of the cleft. They can include all or some or all of the following:

Breathing: When the palate and jaw are malformed, breathing becomes difficult. Treatments include surgery and oral appliances.

Feeding: Problems with feeding are more common in cleft children. A nutritionist and speech therapist that specializes in swallowing may be helpful. Special feeding devices are also available.

Ear infections and hearing loss: Any malformation of the upper airway can affect the function of the Eustachian tube and increase the possibility of persistent fluid in the middle ear, which is a primary cause of repeat ear infections. Hearing loss can be a consequence of repeat ear infections and persistent middle ear fluid. Tubes can be inserted in the ear by an otolaryngologist to alleviate fluid build-up and restore hearing.

Speech and language delays: Normal development of the lips and palate are essential for a child to properly form sounds and speak clearly. Cleft surgery repairs these structures; speech therapy helps with language development.

Dental problems: Sometimes a cleft involves the gums and jaw, affecting the proper growth of teeth and alignment of the jaw. A pediatric dentist or orthodontist can assist with this problem.

© 2016 American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery

Playing catch, shooting hoops, bicycling on a scenic path or just kicking around a soccer ball have more in common than you may think. On the up side, these activities are good exercise and are enjoyed by thousands of Americans. On the down side, they can result in a variety of injuries to the face.

Many injuries are preventable by wearing the proper protective gear, and your attitude toward safety can make a big difference. However, even the most careful person can get hurt. When an accident happens, it’s your response that can make the difference between a temporary inconvenience and permanent injury.

When Someone Gets Hurt:

What First Aid Supplies Should You Have on Hand in Case of An Emergency?

  • sterile cloth or pads
  • scissors
  • ice pack
  • tape
  • sterile bandages
  • cotton tipped swabs
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • nose drops
  • antibiotic ointment
  • eye pads
  • cotton balls
  • butterfly bandages

Ask “Are you all right?” Determine whether the injured person is breathing and knows who and where they are.

Be certain the person can see, hear and maintain balance. Watch for subtle changes in behavior or speech, such as slurring or stuttering. Any abnormal response requires medical attention.

Note weakness or loss of movement in the forehead, eyelids, cheeks and mouth.

Look at the eyes to make sure they move in the same direction and that both pupils are the same size.

If any doubts exist, seek immediate medical attention.

When Medical Attention Is Required, What Can You Do?

  • Call for medical assistance (911).
  • Do not move the victim, or remove helmets or protective gear.
  • Do not give food, drink or medication until the extent of the injury has been determined.
  • Remember HIV…be very careful around body fluids. In an emergency protect your hands with plastic bags.
  • Apply pressure to bleeding wounds with a clean cloth or pad, unless the eye or eyelid is affected or a loose bone can be felt in a head injury. In these cases, do not apply pressure but gently cover the wound with a clean cloth.
  • Apply ice or a cold pack to areas that have suffered a blow (such as a bump on the head) to help control swelling and pain.
  • Remember to advise your doctor if the patient has HIV or hepatitis.

Facial Fractures

Sports injuries can cause potentially serious broken bones or fractures of the face. Common symptoms of facial fractures include:

  • swelling and bruising, such as a black eye
  • pain or numbness in the face, cheeks or lips
  • double or blurred vision
  • nosebleeds
  • changes in teeth structure or ability to close mouth properly

It is important to pay attention to swelling because it may be masking a more serious injury. Applying ice packs and keeping the head elevated may reduce early swelling.

If any of these symptoms occur, be sure to visit the emergency room or the office of a facial plastic surgeon (such as an otolaryngologist – head and neck surgeon) where x-rays may be taken to determine if there is a fracture.

Upper Face

When you are hit in the upper face (by a ball for example) it can fracture the delicate bones around the sinuses, eye sockets, bridge of the nose or cheek bones. A direct blow to the eye may cause a fracture, as well as blurred or double vision. All eye injuries should be examined by an eye specialist (ophthalmologist).

Lower Face

When your jaw or lower face is injured, it may change the way your teeth fit together. To restore a normal bite, surgeries often can be performed from inside the mouth to prevent visible scarring of the face, and broken jaws often can be repaired without being wired shut for long periods. Your doctor will explain your treatment options and the latest treatment techniques.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Bruises, cuts and scrapes often result from high speed or contact sports, such as boxing, football, soccer, ice hockey, bicycling, skiing and snowmobiling. Most can be treated at home, but some require medical attention.

You should get immediate medical care when you have:

  • deep skin cuts
  • obvious deformity or fracture
  • loss of facial movement
  • persistent bleeding
  • change in vision
  • problems breathing and/or swallowing
  • alterations in consciousness or facial movement

Bruises

Also called contusions, bruises result from bleeding underneath the skin. Applying pressure, elevating the bruised area above the heart and using an ice pack for the first 24 to 48 hours minimizes discoloration and swelling. After two days, a heat pack or hot water bottle may help more. Most of the swelling and bruising should disappear in one to two weeks.

Cuts and Scrapes

The external bleeding that results from cuts and scrapes can be stopped by immediately applying pressure with gauze or a clean cloth. When the bleeding is uncontrollable, you should go to the emergency room.
Scrapes should be washed with soap and water to remove any foreign material that could cause infection and discoloration of the skin.

Scrapes or abrasions can be treated at home by cleaning with 3% hydrogen peroxide and covering with an antibiotic ointment or cream until the skin is healed. Cuts or lacerations, unless very small, should be examined by a physician. Stitches may be necessary, and deeper cuts may have serious effects. Following stitches, cuts should be kept clean and free of scabs with hydrogen peroxide and antibiotic ointment. Bandages may be needed to protect the area from pressure or irritation from clothes. You may experience numbness around the cut for several months. Healing will continue for 6 to 12 months. The application of sunscreen is important during the healing process to prevent pigment changes. Scars that look too obvious after this time should be seen by a facial plastic surgeon.

Nasal Injuries

The nose is one of the most injured areas on the face. Early treatment of a nose injury consists of applying a cold compress and keeping the head higher than the rest of the body. You should seek medical attention in the case of:

  • breathing difficulties
  • deformity of the nose
  • persistent bleeding
  • cuts

Bleeding

Nosebleeds are common and usually short-lived. Often they can be controlled by squeezing the nose with constant pressure for 5 to 10 minutes. If bleeding persists, seek medical attention.
Bleeding also can occur underneath the surface of the nose. An otolaryngologist/facial plastic surgeon will examine the nose to determine if there is a clot or collection of blood beneath the mucus membrane of the septum (a septal hematoma) or any fracture. Hematomas should be drained so the pressure does not cause nose damage or infection.

Fractures

Some otolaryngologist – head and neck specialists set fractured bones right away before swelling develops, while others prefer to wait until the swelling is gone. These fractures can be repaired under local or general anesthesia, even weeks later.

Ultimately, treatment decisions will be made to restore proper function of the nasal air passages and normal appearance and structural support of the nose. Swelling and bruising of the nose may last for 10 days or more.

Neck Injuries

Whether seemingly minor or severe, all neck injuries should be thoroughly evaluated by an otolaryngologist – head and neck surgeon. Injuries may involve specific structures within the neck, such as the larynx (voice box), esophagus (food passage), or major blood vessels and nerves.

Throat Injuries

The larynx is a complex organ consisting of cartilage, nerves and muscles with a mucous membrane lining all encased in a protective tissue (cartilage) framework.

The cartilages can be fractured or dislocated and may cause severe swelling, which can result in airway obstruction. Hoarseness or difficulty breathing after a blow to the neck are warning signs of a serious injury and the injured person should receive immediate medical attention.

Prevention of Facial Sports Injuries

The best way to treat facial sports injuries is to prevent them. To insure a safe athletic environment, the following guidelines are suggested:

  • Be sure the playing areas are large enough that players will not run into walls or other obstructions.
  • Cover unremoveable goal posts and other structures with thick, protective padding.
  • Carefully check equipment to be sure it is functioning properly.
  • Require protective equipment – such as helmets and padding for football, bicycling and rollerblading; face masks, head and mouth guards for baseball; ear protectors for wrestlers; and eyeglass guards or goggles for racquetball and snowmobiling are just a few.
  • Prepare athletes with warm-up exercises before engaging in intense team activity.
  • In the case of sports involving fast-moving vehicles, for example, snowmobiles or dirt bikes – check the path of travel, making sure there are no obstructing fences, wires or other obstacles.
  • Enlist adequate adult supervision for all children’s competitive sports.

© 2016 American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery

Inflammation of the nasal mucous membrane is called rhinitis. The symptoms include sneezing and runny and/or itchy nose, caused by irritation and congestion in the nose. There are two types: allergic rhinitis and non-allergic rhinitis.

Allergic Rhinitis occurs when the body’s immune system over-responds to specific, non-infectious particles such as plant pollens, molds, dust mites, animal hair, industrial chemicals (including tobacco smoke), foods, medicines and insect venom. During an allergic attack, antibodies, primarily immunoglobin E (IgE), attach to mast cells (cells that release histamine) in the lungs, skin and mucous membranes. Once IgE connects with the mast cells, a number of chemicals are released. One of the chemicals, histamine, opens the blood vessels and causes skin redness and swollen membranes. When this occurs in the nose, sneezing and congestion are the result.

Seasonal allergic rhinitis (or hay fever) occurs in late summer or spring. Hypersensitivity to ragweed, not hay, is the primary cause of seasonal allergic rhinitis in 75 percent of all Americans who suffer from this seasonal disorder. People with sensitivity to tree pollen have symptoms in late March or early April; an allergic reaction to mold spores occurs in October and November as a consequence of falling leaves.

Perennial allergic rhinitis occurs year-round and can result from sensitivity to pet hair, mold on wallpaper, houseplants, carpeting and upholstery. Some studies suggest that air pollution such as automobile engine emissions can aggravate allergic rhinitis. Although bacteria are not the cause of allergic rhinitis, one medical study found a significant number of the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus in the nasal passages of patients with year-round allergic rhinitis, concluding that the allergic condition may lead to higher bacterial levels, thereby creating a condition that worsens the allergies.

Patients who suffer from recurring bouts of allergic rhinitis should observe their symptoms on a continuous basis. If facial pain or a greenish-yellow nasal discharge occurs, a qualified ear, nose and throat specialist can provide appropriate sinusitis treatment.

Non-Allergic Rhinitis does not depend on the presence of IgE and is not due to an allergic reaction. The symptoms can be triggered by cigarette smoke and other pollutants as well as strong odors, alcoholic beverages and cold. Other causes may include blockages in the nose, a deviated septum, infections, and over-use of medications such as decongestants.

Rhinosinusitis: Clarifying The Relationship Between The Sinuses And Rhinitis

Recent studies by otolaryngologist– – head and neck surgeons have better defined the association between rhinitis and sinusitis. They have concluded that sinusitis is often preceded by rhinitis and rarely occurs without concurrent rhinitis. The symptoms, nasal obstruction/discharge and loss of smell, occur in both disorders. Most importantly, computed tomography (CT scan) findings have established that the mucosal linings of the nose and sinuses are simultaneously involved in the common cold (previously, thought to affect only the nasal passages). Otolaryngologists, acknowledging the inter-relationship between the nasal and sinus passages, now refer to sinusitis as rhinosinusitis.

The catalyst relating the two disorders is thought to involve nasal sinus overflow obstruction, followed by bacterial colonization and infection leading to acute, recurrent or chronic sinusitis. Likewise, chronic inflammation due to allergies can lead to obstruction and subsequent sinusitis.

Other medical research has supported the close relationship between allergic rhinitis and sinusitis. In a retrospective study on sinus abnormalities in 1,120 patients (from two to 87 years of age), thickening of the sinus mucosa was more commonly found in sinusitis patients during July, August, September and December, months in which pollen, mold, and viral epidemics are prominent. A review of patients (four to 83 years of age) who had surgery to treat their chronic sinus conditions revealed that those with seasonal allergy and nasal polyps are more likely to experience a recurrence of their sinusitis.

© 2016 American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery

Millions of Americans suffer from nasal allergies, commonly known as hay fever. An ear, nose and throat specialist can help determine the substances causing your discomfort. The specialist can also develop a management plan that will help make life more enjoyable.

Why does the body develop allergies?

Allergy symptoms appear when the immune system reacts to an allergic substance that has entered the body as though it were an unwelcome invader. The immune system will produce special antibodies capable of recognizing the same allergic substance if it enters the body at a later time.
When an allergen reenters the body, the immune system rapidly recognizes it, causing a series of reactions. These reactions often involve tissue destruction, blood vessel dilation, and production of many inflammatory substances, including histamine. Histamine produces common allergy symptoms such as itchy, watery eyes, nasal and sinus congestion, headaches, sneezing, scratchy throat, hives, shortness of breath, etc. Other less common symptoms are balance disturbances, skin irritations such as eczema, and even respiratory problems like asthma.

What are common allergens?

Many common substances can be allergens. Pollens, food, mold, dust, feathers, animal dander, chemicals, drugs such as penicillin, and environmental pollutants commonly cause many to suffer allergic reactions.

Pollens
One of the most significant causes of allergic rhinitis in the United States is ragweed. It begins pollinating in late August in most of the U.S. and continues until the first frost. Late springtime pollens come from grasses like timothy, orchard, red top, sweet vernal, Bermuda, Johnson, and some bluegrasses. Early springtime hay fever is most often caused by pollens of trees such as elm, maple, birch, poplar, beech, ash, oak, walnut, sycamore, cypress, hickory, pecan, cottonwood, and alder. Flowering plants rarely cause allergy symptoms.

Household allergens
Certain allergens are present all year long. These include house dust mites, pet dander, and some foods and chemicals. Symptoms caused by these allergens often worsen in the winter when the house is closed up, due to poor ventilation.

Mold
Mold spores also cause allergy problems. Molds are present all year long and grow both outdoors and indoors. Dead leaves and farm areas are common sources for outdoor molds. Indoor plants, old books, bathrooms and damp areas are common sources of indoor mold growth. Mold is also common in foods.

How can allergies be managed?

Allergies are rarely life-threatening. Allergies often cause lost work days, decreased work efficiency, poor school performance, and a negative effect on the quality of life. Considering the millions of dollars spent on antiallergy medication and the cost of lost work time, allergies cannot be considered a minor problem.

For some allergy sufferers, symptoms may be seasonal, but for others they produce year-round discomfort. Symptom control is most successful when multiple approaches are used simultaneously to manage the allergy. They may include minimizing exposure to allergens, desensitization with allergy shots or drops, and medications. If used properly, medications, including antihistamines, nasal decongestant sprays, steroid sprays, saline sprays, and cortisone-type preparations, can be helpful. Even over-the-counter drugs can be beneficial, but some may cause drowsiness.

When should a doctor be consulted?

When allergy symptoms are not well controlled with over-the-counter medications, a doctor should be consulted. The doctor will gather a detailed history and complete a thorough examination of the ears, nose, throat and head. The doctor will also offer advice on proper environmental controls to decrease exposure to allergens. The doctor will also evaluate the sinuses to determine if infection or structural problems (deviated septum, polyps) are causing the symptoms.

In addition, the doctor may suggest testing to find the specific allergen that is causing discomfort. In some cases subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots) or sublingual immunotherapy (allergy drops under the tongue), or allergy tablets may be recommended. Immunotherapy is a method of treating allergies by desensitizing individuals to allergens over time, in many cases with the goal that they be cured of their allergies. ENT doctors are specially trained in the diagnosis and management of allergies.

Tips for reducing the exposure to common allergens

  • Wear a dust mask when mowing grass or cleaning house (most drugstores sell them).
  • Change your air filters regularly in heating and air conditioning systems and vacuum cleaners and/or install an air purifier. Consider a HEPA filter in your bedroom or other rooms where you spend a lot of time.
  • Keep windows and doors closed during heavy pollen seasons.
    Rid your home of sources of mold and mildew.
  • If you have a pet, ask your ENT for suggestions to allow you to enjoy your pet while also enjoying a life free of allergies.
  • Remove carpet from bedrooms.
  • Use over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants as needed and as tolerated. However, you should talk to your ENT doctor to make sure they are safe. Some patients do better with prescription medications when over-the-counter medications are not controlling their symptoms well.
  • Discuss hay fever and allergy symptoms with a physician when experiencing an allergic reaction.

© 2016 American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery

Three percent of American adults are smokeless tobacco users. They run the same risks of gum disease, heart disease and addiction as cigarette users, but an even greater risk of oral cancer. Each year about 30,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral and pharyngeal cancers, and more than 8,000 people die of these diseases. Despite the health risks associated with tobacco use, consumers continue to demand the product. In 2001, the five largest tobacco manufacturers spent $236.7 million on smokeless tobacco advertising and promotion.

What is smokeless tobacco?

There are two forms of smokeless tobacco: chewing tobacco and snuff. Chewing tobacco is usually sold as leaf tobacco (packaged in a pouch) or plug tobacco (in brick form). Both are placed between the cheek and gum. Users keep chewing tobacco in their mouths for several hours to get a continuous high from the nicotine in the tobacco.

Snuff is a powdered tobacco (usually sold in cans) that is put between the lower lip and the gum. It is also referred to as “dipping.” Just a pinch is all that’s needed to release the nicotine, which is then swiftly absorbed into the bloodstream, resulting in a quick high.

The chemicals contained in chew or snuff are poisonous and addictive. Every time smokeless tobacco is used, the body adjusts to the amount of tobacco needed to get a high. Consequently, the next time tobacco is used, the body will need a little more to get the same feeling. Holding an average-sized dip or chew in the mouth for 30 minutes gives the user as much nicotine as smoking four cigarettes

Is smokeless tobacco less harmful than cigarettes?

In 1986, the U.S. Surgeon General declared that the use of smokeless tobacco “is not a safe substitute for smoking cigarettes. It can cause cancer and a number of noncancerous conditions and can lead to nicotine addiction and dependence.” Also, since 1991, the National Cancer Institute has recommended that the public avoid the use of all tobacco products, due to their high levels of nitrosamines.

In a recent study, cancer researchers found that oral tobacco products, including lozenges and moist snuff, are not a good alternative to smoking, since the levels of cancer-causing nitrosamines in smokeless tobacco and lozenges are very high. Some smokeless products contain the highest amounts of nicotine that can be readily absorbed by the body.

What are the ingredients in smokeless tobacco?

  • Polonium 210 (nuclear waste)
  • N-Nitrosamines (cancer-causing)
  • Formaldehyde (embalming fluid)
  • Nicotine (addictive drug)
  • Cadmium (used in batteries and nuclear reactor shields)
  • Cyanide (poisonous compound)
  • Arsenic (poinsonous metallic element)
  • Benzene (used in insecticides and motor fuels)
  • Lead (nerve poison)

Who are the most common smokeless tobacco users?

According to the 2000 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, young adults between the ages of 18-25 are the most common smokeless tobacco users. This trend may be influenced by innovative marketing tactics targeted at a younger audience.

Smokeless tobacco manufacturers are marketing flavored smokeless tobacco. A 2005 American Legacy Foundation and National Cancer Institute study noted, “Tobacco companies are using candy-like flavors and high-tech delivery devices to turn a blowtorch into a flavored popsicle, misleading millions of youngsters to try a deadly product.”

What are the physical and mental effects of smokeless tobacco use?

Cancer. Smokeless tobacco is a cancer-causing agent, also known as a carcinogen. Cancers are most likely to develop at the site where tobacco is held in the mouth, but it may also include the lips, tongue, cheek and throat.

Leukoplakia. Smokeless tobacco users may develop a condition in which white spots form on the gums, inside of the cheeks and sometimes on the tongue. It can be caused by the irritation from the tobacco juice, and the disorder can be considered pre-cancerous. Therefore, if a white patch does not heal within one week, consult a doctor.

Heart disease. The stimulating effects of nicotine, an organic compound made of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and sometimes oxygen, increase the heart rate and blood pressure and may trigger irregular heartbeats.

Gum and tooth disease. Smokeless tobacco permanently discolors teeth, causes halitosis (bad breath) and may contribute to tooth loss. Smokeless tobacco contains a lot of sugar which forms an acid that may eat away the tooth enamel, causing cavities and mouth sores. Also, its direct and repeated contact with the gums may cause them to recede.

Social effects. Bad breath, discolored teeth.

What are some early warning signs of oral cancer?

  • A sore that bleeds easily and does not heal
  • A lump or thickening anywhere in the mouth or neck
  • Soreness or swelling that does not go away
  • A red or white patch that does not go away
  • Trouble chewing, swallowing or moving the tongue or jaw

Tips to quit using smokeless tobacco for a lifetime

Write down a list of reasons to quit. For example:

  • Don’t want to risk getting cancer.
  • Family members find it offensive.
  • Don’t like having bad breath after chewing and dipping.
  • Don’t want stained teeth or no teeth.
  • Don’t like being addicted to nicotine.
  • Want to start leading a healthier life.

Pick a date to quit and throw out all chewing tobacco and snuff.

  • Remember daily your decision to stop chewing tobacco.
  • Ask friends and family to help you stay committed to the decision to quit, by giving you support and encouragement.
  • Find alternatives to smokeless tobacco to chew, such as sugarless gum, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, apple slices, raisins or dried fruit.
  • Engage in recreational activities to keep your mind off smokeless tobacco.
  • Develop a personalized plan that works best; set realistic goals.
  • Reward your successes.

© 2016 American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery