How to treat strep throat

Strep throat 

While many people associate strep throat with the winter season, it is a virus that can be caught any time of year. What is strep throat? It is a bacterial infection in the throat and tonsils caused by A Streptococcus and often requires medical attention. It is contagious and usually transferred between people by talking, coughing, or sneezing and has a two to five day incubation period. Symptoms and severity of strep throat vary between people, but should be treated by people who feel sick. 

Strep throat symptoms

There are common symptoms beyond a sore throat that can identify if it is a case of strep throat:

  • Swollen tonsils of lymph nodes
  • Red spots on the roof of the mouth
  • Nausea, stomach pain, vomiting
  • Pain when swallowing 
  • Headache 
  • Fever

In order to determine if you have strep throat, a doctor will need to examine your throat and do a simple swab test or a rapid test in the office. Once a diagnosis is made, there are options for treatment depending on the patient.

Strep throat treatment options

In order to prevent the spread of strep throat, it’s important to stay away from others while contagious. While infected with the strep throat virus, treatment is important in order to avoid further illness like rheumatic fever and increased severity in symptoms. Treatment options include the use of antibiotics including penicillin or amoxicillin (depending on personal allergies to antibiotics). If antibiotics do not work, it is important to see a doctor for further investigation. Always remember that the use of antibiotics creates a tolerance and need not to be overused. Consulting a doctor before deciding a treatment plan is always best, and keeping track of how often strep throat happens in a year is also a good idea. 

How to avoid strep throat

Some people are more susceptible to strep throat than others. If strep throat is a common occurrence in patients, Breathe Clear Institute offers both invasive and noninvasive procedures to help prevent further infections. Simple way to avoid infection include:

  • Covering your nose and mouth when you or others are coughing or sneezing (wearing a protective mask can also help in these instances)
  • If you cough or sneeze directly into your hand, wash your hands with soap or use hand sanitizer right away in order to contain the virus
  • When washing your hands often, do so for at least 20 seconds with soap and hot water
  • Use antibiotic treatment plans as directed by your doctor and avoid contact with others until symptoms subside and you are no longer contagious 

Viruses can’t always be avoided, but the above measures help to keep you safe and hygienic when viruses are spreading. If you’re interested in learning more about more permanent procedures to stop recurring strep throat, we’re here to help.

We can help with recurring throat problems like strep throat – Schedule an appointment with Breathe Right Institute 

If you’ve been experiencing strep throat twice a year or more, it might be time to consult a doctor on how best to proceed rather than using antibiotic treatments every time. We can take a look at previous diagnoses and analyze the neck and throat area to assess what is best.

What to do about neck masses

Neck masses in adults

Thinking back to most doctor’s visits, the doctor would always check the neck area for swelling and inflammation as it is often indicative of disease. If a noticeable mass is growing on the neck, it is cause for concern whether it’s something seen or felt as some masses may protrude more than others. On-going symptoms of possible neck masses vary, but patients should seek a doctor’s advice on how best to proceed before jumping to any conclusions

The Breathe Clear Institute has years of experience diagnosing and treating neck masses of all severity. Enlarged lymph nodes, cysts, or lesions on the thyroid or salivary glands are all considered part of any ENT practice. 

Symptoms and evaluation  

Symptoms will vary depending on where the mass is located, what it’s made of, and eventual diagnosis. They may include but are not limited to the below list.

  • Protruding mass on the neck
  • Changes in voice 
  • Difficulty swallowing 
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen tonsils 
  • Problems sleeping 
  • Changes in breathing 
  • Unintentional weight loss 
  • Fatigue 
  • Fever

If someone is experiencing any or all of these symptoms, please make an appointment immediately. Once in the office, the doctor will evaluate your neck mass to determine next steps and proceed with a diagnosis. 

If the mass is the site of inflammation or infection, patients will move forward with antibiotic treatments. If the neck mass persists as a local recurrence within the glands, a biopsy will be taken. Biopsies will determine if a mass is malignant or benign. If further investigation is needed, the doctor will order scans of the neck area. From there, it will be decided whether or not a patient must undergo surgery. 

Peace of mind with a diagnosis and plan of actions are our priority, and we pride ourselves on using minimally invasive procedures whenever possible. There are, however, instances where more invasive surgeries are necessary.

Treatment and management

If a neck mass needs to be removed surgically, the operation will take place either in our offices or at a nearby operating room depending on the diagnosis. A comprehensive evaluation of the surgically removed mass will be sent to the lab in order to determine next steps in treatment.

Be sure to ask the doctor about specific aftercare protocol for which surgery is performed. All patients should expect around a month-long recovery process and expectations of light activity during that time. Patients can expect pain management prescriptions to help with the healing process, and follow-up appointments will be made to monitor the situation. We want you to feel better while treating the disease, and also make your neck look aesthetically better in the process. 

Concerned about a mass on your neck? Schedule an appointment with Breathe Clear Institute

Neck masses should be immediately attended to, so please make an appointment to see us as soon as possible. It’s also best to take on symptoms when they first start in order to avoid any more severe symptoms and diagnoses down the road. Either way, we are here for you.

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Simple at-home sore throat remedies

How to remedy a sore throat

Almost everyone has experienced a sore throat in their lifetime. Whether the cause of the sore throat is from seasonal allergies or weather-related factors, there are plenty of quick and easy tips to remedy symptoms at home, with help of the pharmacy, and even seeing a doctor. Seeing as sore throats are common, we suggested following the tips below, depending on the severity of your pain. 

If a sore throat is beyond any at-home remedies and over-the-counter drugs, we suggest skipping over the below content and immediately making an appointment to see us for further assistance. We have on-hand specialists at the Breathe Clear Institute who will work to alleviate pain and discuss plans to avoid future throat issues.

Sore throat symptoms

If the patient is experiencing pain, itchiness, or irritation of your throat, it’s what is commonly called a sore throat. There might be one symptom that trumps the others or are experiencing all three at once. Likely, sore throats are affecting speech, the ability to swallow, and sleep which can all increase the likelihood of prolonged or worsening sickness. Sore throats tend to last three to ten days in an average case, but there are ways to heal quicker.

Holistic approaches

If a sore throat is highly bothersome, but not enough to take medicine or make an appointment with us just yet, here are some simple at-home remedies that can help alleviate soreness and treat that annoying throat tickle. People likely have most of these items around the house or can make temporary small changes in daily routines to help heal sore throats.

Gargling 

Salt water

Baking soda plus water

Make some temporary dietary changes 

Skip acidic foods (no apple cider vinegar)

Add hot sauce, garlic, or cayenne pepper to food

Suck on ice pops or drink extra cold liquids

Sip herbal teas such as chamomile or fenugreek

Consume roots of marshmallow, licorice, slippery elm

Use honey to coat throat in tea or on its own

If drinking alcohol, make a hot toddy (whiskey, honey, spices)

Replace your toothbrush

Rest your voice and body

Use a humidifier and/or take steam showers

Elevate your head while sleeping

Over-the-counter approaches 

If the holistic approach hasn’t given hopeful results but seeing a doctor might not be needed just yet, below are our suggestions for over-the-counter products to help. A quick trip to the pharmacy will help move healing along and reduce any pain. Be sure to check any ingredients for allergens or possible interactions with prescription medications that are already part of a daily regimen.

Antacids (Tums, Rolaids)

Pain relievers (acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen)

Nasal decongestants (Afrin, Vicks)

Allergy medicines (Zyrtec, Claratin) 

At-home and over-the-counter remedies not working? Schedule an appointment with Breathe Clear Institute 

If you’re having difficulty swallowing, notice enlarged tonsils and/or thyroid glands, and all listed remedies above haven’t worked for you, it’s time to see a doctor. We want to help you recover from sore throats as quickly as possible so you can get back to your daily life without pain and irritation.

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When I need to remove my tonsils?

What are tonsils?

Tonsils are two lymph nodes on either side of the neck that work as frontline defense and white blood cell creators that fight bodily infections. Many people experience tonsil issues at some point in their lives and can treat symptoms to manage pain and  irritation. Symptoms include very sore throat, difficulty swallowing, aches and pains throughout the head and neck, fever and chill, or even bad breath. Tonsillitis often comes along with the common cold or strep throat. 

Children make up a large percentage of patients with tonsilitis because of overexposure to germs and growing immunity to everyday pathogens. There are some cases of recurring tonsillitis where doctors and patients may discuss the removal of the tonsils in order to prevent ongoing infections. It’s important to note that tonsillitis is caused by many different viruses and bacteria, and is contagious. 

Why do my tonsils continue to be an issue? 

A person who continuously has tonsillitis and/or strep throat has reason to be concerned. Not only does it interrupt everyday life, but it can also be a detriment to overall health. Genetic factors are highly linked to chronic tonsillitis. So if an adult had to have their tonsils removed at some point due to chronic disease, their child is more likely to have similar issues. 

Chronic tonsillitis is diagnosed if there are five or more infections within a twelve-month period. This is quite common in children, which is why their surgery statistics are greater, but adults can also qualify for chronic tonsillitis and possible removal of the tonsils. Other diagnoses like scarlet fever, peritonsillar abscess, rheumatic fever, and the further spread of bacteria in your body from chronic tonsillitis are also causes for a tonsillectomy. 

Tonsillectomy

The surgical removal of the tonsils is called a tonsillectomy. The goal of a tonsillectomy is to decrease the frequency of tonsilitis and/or strep throat, but it is not guaranteed prevention from viral or bacterial infections in patients. There are cases where people remove their tonsils due to frequent snoring that interrupts their sleep as well. 

How are tonsillectomies performed? There are many different ways to remove tonsils, all of which are done in doctors offices. All methods remove tonsils through the mouth, either using extreme heat, a “cold knife” or scalpel, different types of lasers, and sometimes ultrasonic vibrations. The Breathe Clear Institute will find which surgical method is most effective for each patient.

Recovery from a tonsillectomy is generally around two weeks, all of which should be restful for the patient. The first days after the surgery are painful, but can be managed with medications from your doctor. Light bleeding and discoloration of the tonsils are common. A recovery plan will be made for you and any dietary restrictions you might have.  

Tonsils bothering you? Schedule an appointment with Breathe Clear Institute 

If you or someone in your family are experiencing chronic tonsillitis, it might be time to consider your options beyond taking antibiotics. We have a variety of treatment plans that span from at-home remedies to surgical procedures. Our team will work with you to find the best possible course of action.

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Why Does My Throat Hurt When I Swallow

Why Does My Throat Hurt When I Swallow?

If you’re having a hard time eating and drinking, you’re not alone. Painful swallowing is a common condition. You could be experiencing burning, soreness, a sharp pain, or the sensation that you have a lump in your throat. All of these symptoms can make it difficult to swallow. Most of the time, painful swallowing is benign and can be treated easily with OTC medications and home remedies. But if your condition is severe or persists, you will need to see your PCP or throat doctor for treatment. You may be diagnosed with one of the following causes for painful swallowing:

Viral or Sinus Infection

The most common cause for painful swallowing is a virus like a cold, the flu, or mono. Sinus infections could also be the blame. The pain in your throat is likely caused by either inflamed tonsils, coughing, or irritation from sinus drip. If you have a viral or sinus infection, there will be a variety of other symptoms such as a runny/stuffy nose, headache, cough, or fever. Rest and OTC medications are the standard treatment for these types of infections; although your doctor may choose to prescribe steroids or antibiotics in some cases.

Throat Infection

Bacterial infections that affect the throat include strep and tonsillitis. Unlike with viruses, these bacterial infections directly target the throat and won’t be accompanied by other cold-like symptoms. In addition to a painful sore throat, you may experience a fever, swollen lymph nodes, or gastrointestinal symptoms. Treatment options include OTC pain medications, antibiotics, and sometimes tonsillectomies for severe cases.

Allergic Reaction

Sinus drip triggered by an allergen can cause mildly painful swallowing. But severe allergies, especially from food, can cause an extreme allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. When this happens, the throat can swell and close, making it difficult to swallow and breathe. Anaphylaxis is serious and requires immediate medical attention. Use an EpiPen if you have one and then go to the closest emergency room.

Oral Thrush

Thrush is essentially a yeast infection of the mouth. A fungus known as Candida albicans infects the lining of the mouth and can spread to the tonsils and throat. The irritation and burning can make it difficult to eat and swallow. Other symptoms include white lesions, minor scrapes and bleeding, and a cotton-like feeling in your mouth. Antifungal medications are effective at treating thrush.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

If you suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease, you’re no stranger to that burning sensation in the throat. When stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, it can be painful to swallow. This is because acid reflux is damaging your esophageal lining. You may also experience vomiting, an acidic taste, heartburn, and hoarseness. Diet changes along with antacids should remedy the problem.

Throat Injury

If you swallowed a large pill or a jagged piece of food, you may have injured your throat. Also, consuming food and drinks that are too hot can burn your esophagus. Scrapes, burns, and sore throat muscles can all cause mild pain when you swallow. Time will heal the injury but in the meantime, you can use OTC pain medications. 

Cancer

Although rare, painful swallowing could be a warning sign of throat or esophageal cancer. You may see other symptoms like lumps around the neck or blood in your saliva. An ENT doctor will be able to perform tests to determine if tumors are the source of your painful swallowing.

Breathe Clear Institute Can Find Out Why It Hurts When You Swallow 

Although painful swallowing isn’t usually a cause for concern, you should seek help if it’s causing prolonged suffering or if you have other troubling symptoms. Breathe Clear Institute can help. We take a holistic approach to health and will start by diagnosing the root cause of your discomfort to then customize a throat treatment plan for your specific needs. Schedule an appointment with an ENT from Breathe Clear institute and start feeling better today!

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Acid reflux management

Acid reflux

Much like heartburn, acid reflux is a painful burning sensation in your chest and throat. It is caused by stomach acid being pushed back up into the esophagus and can be very uncomfortable. The more scientific term for it is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). 

Ways to relieve and prevent it 

We all have our own tricks to quickly relieve acid reflux when it’s needed. Rather than play a guessing game, we want to provide you with a variety of ways to reduce and prevent your acid reflux from flaring up. Below is a list of lifestyle changes that can help reduce acid reflux over time. 

  • When eating, chew and swallow with intention  to digest your food at a slower rate; eat dinner earlier so gravity doesn’t interfere with digestion; eat smaller, low-fat, high-protein meals throughout the day (rather than three big meals a day)
  • Elevate your head while sleeping and sleep on your left side – this causes less pressure on your stomach to reduce the amount of acid reaching the esophagus 
  • Chewing gum with bicarbonate can neutralize acid and prevent reflux
  • Avoid carbonated beverages, limit coffee and alcohol intake, limit citrus juice – all are common triggers in acid reflux flare-ups
  • Limit high-fat foods and too many carbohydrates – undigested carbs can cause gas, bloating, and burping
  • Manage your weight to stay within a healthy range for your figure 
  • Check to your medications to see if acid reflux is a side effect and talk to your doctor and make changes accordingly
  • Quit smoking – it increase amount of acid secreted in the stomach and lessens the muscle strength that prevents reflux
  • Click here for a detailed list of food and beverages that should be avoided

Most of these tips will help your overall health and should be considered changes everyone can make to live better and longer. Like most health conditions, diet and exercise are important to monitor for optimal results. If you’re obses, talk to a doctor about creating a plan to safely lose substantial weight over a planned amount of time. 

Furthermore, wearing loose clothing, opting not to wear a tight belt, sleeping in a chair at a more elevated angle can improve acid reflux symptoms in the moment, but they are not cure-alls. 

Over-the-counter medicines are also available for purchase for quick relief from acid reflux. Some popular products and brands include Tums, Rolaids, Mylanta, Maalox, Alka-Seltzer, and Pepto-Bismol. Milk of magnesia, and aluminum hydroxide gel are alternatives to big brand name products. Your local pharmacy will have one or more of these for purchase, if you’re ever without them or in a bind. 

Treat your acid reflux – Schedule an appointment with Breathe Clear Institute 

If acid reflux is a problem in your everyday life and nothing seems to be working at home, it’s time to make an appointment with the team at the Breathe Clear Institute to further investigate what’s going on. In the meantime, keep watching your diet and continue any at-home remedies that have given relief. We will help you get your acid reflux under control.

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What Are the Causes of a Sore Throat?

What are the Causes of a Sore Throat?

It happens to the best of us — that painful, scratchy feeling you get at the back of your throat. It’s hard to swallow and talk. Perhaps it’s even challenging your ability to eat and sleep. Desperate for relief, you may find yourself sucking on throat lozenges or trying your hand at a home remedy. But what is causing it? And how can you know if your sore throat is something serious? Here are some likely causes for your throat irritation:

1. Viral Infections

The most common cause of a sore throat is a viral infection. In fact, viruses are to blame for about 90% of all reported sore throats. If you’re experiencing other symptoms, such as a fever or body aches, this is the biggest clue that a virus is the culprit. If the problem persists, you should probably see your doctor. They may diagnose you with one of the following viral infections:

  • The common cold
  • Flu (influenza)
  • Mono (mononucleosis)
  • Measles
  • Chickenpox 
  • Mumps
  • COVID-19 (coronavirus disease)
  • Croup 

2. Bacterial Infections

Bacteria could also be the agent of your throat discomfort. This is more typical in children and youth but adults aren’t immune to the possibility. A bacterial infection will usually be present in the tonsils or even the throat itself. The most common sore throat-causing bacteria are:

  • Strep throat
  • Tonsillitis
  • STIs (like gonorrhea and chlamydia)

3. Environmental Irritants

The very air you breathe could be irritating your throat. If the air is dry, your throat will be dry, causing that scratchy feeling we all know and don’t love. Other bothersome particles in the air may also be making their way into your throat. It could be from:

  • Pollution
  • Smoke (fire or tobacco)
  • Dust and dirt
  • Cleaning products
  • Other chemicals

4. Allergies

When allergens like pollen or mold trigger allergic reactions, it can cause sinus symptoms like congestion and a runny nose. The increase in mucus will cause postnasal drip. As mucus repetitively drips down the back of your throat, it will cause irritation and soreness. 

5. Tonsil Stones

Also called tonsilloliths, tonsil stones are deposits formed within the crevices of your tonsils. Debris from food, dead cells, saliva, and mucus can get trapped in tonsils pits and build up over time. This also attracts odorous bacteria and fungi. When tonsil stones become large or increase in number, they can cause a distinct sore throat.

6. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a digestive condition where your stomach acid backs up into your esophagus. When the acid makes its way up your throat, it will subsequently cause pain, burning, and hoarseness. 

7. Throat Injury

Ever wake up with a sore throat after a fun-filled day at the theme park or a music festival? Overusing your vocal cords by screaming or singing can injure your throat and cause temporary or prolonged soreness. Food can also injure your throat if it’s too hot or gets stuck.

8. Tumors

Though uncommon, tumors of the throat, voice box, or tongue can also lead to sore throats. If a sore throat continues for an extended period, you should probably see an ENT (ear, nose, and throat doctor) and get a cancer screening. Your throat doctor may also check for other accompanying symptoms such as visible lumps, difficulty swallowing, or blood in the saliva.

Schedule an Appointment with Breathe Clear Institute 

Some sore throats are benign and go away on their own. But if you’re plagued by a persistent sore throat or are worried it could be serious, the medical professionals at Breathe Clear Institute can help. We take a holistic approach to health and will start by diagnosing the root cause of your discomfort to then customize a throat treatment plan for your specific needs. Schedule an appointment with an ENT from Breathe Clear institute and start feeling better today!

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What Are Tonsil Stones?

What Are Tonsil Stones?

Tonsil stones, also referred to as tonsilloliths, are calcified stones that can be found lodged in the tonsils. Tonsils are the glands located in the back of your throat and are an important part of the immune system. Learn about the causes, symptoms, removal, and prevention of tonsil stones with the experienced team at Breathe Clear Institute. 

Causes

How do tonsil stones form? Tonsil stones are formed when debris, including food particles, and bacteria get trapped in the crevices of the tonsils. They vary in size and may appear yellow or white in color. Causes of tonsil stones include tonsillitis, infection, and failure to practice good oral hygiene. 

Symptoms

Symptoms of tonsil stones include throat irritation, bad breath, ear pressure, coughing, difficulty swallowing, and swollen tonsils. 

Removal

To remove tonsil stones, an individual may use at home remedies, however, if the stones persist, medical or surgical treatment may be recommended by a healthcare professional. 

Gargling With Salt Water

One remedy that can be done at home is gargling with salt water. To create a salt water solution, you mix ½ teaspoon of salt with 8 ounces of warm water. The salt water can work to help dislodge the stones and soothe the throat. 

Gargling With Apple Cider Vinegar

Another method that has proven to be helpful for some is gargling with apple cider vinegar. Take a cup of warm water and mix it with 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. 

Using a Water Flosser

A water flosser may be useful in loosening up and removing tonsil stones. Water flossers are typically used to remove food and plaque. 

Tonsillectomy

Lastly, an individual may have to undergo a tonsillectomy if their condition does not improve. A tonsillectomy is a surgical procedure in which the tonsils are removed from the mouth. One of the benefits of a tonsillectomy is the elimination of tonsil stones along with fewer infections, fewer sore throats, and less snoring. This type of procedure is very common in the United States. At Breathe Clear Institute, our doctor performs this outpatient procedure, which typically takes less than 45 minutes, in a nearby operating room. Recovery times differ between children and adults, but most can expect to feel relief within two weeks. 

Prevention

For some, prevention may be more difficult, but practicing good oral hygiene (brushing twice a day, flossing, using mouthwash) is a great way to help keep them from forming and causing uncomfortable symptoms. 

Get the Relief You Need With Breathe Clear Institute

If you are suffering from recurrent tonsil stones, schedule an appointment with the leading ENT doctor and allergist at the Breathe Clear Institute. Dr. Davis won’t just alleviate your symptoms. He will get to the root of your issue by conducting a complete evaluation. From there, he will recommend the most effective and ideal treatment—whether it be medical or surgical. At Breathe Clear, your health is important to us and it is our goal to provide all of our patients with the best care possible. To make an appointment with Dr. Davis, you can either give us a call and our patient coordinator will assist you, or you can always fill out an online contact form available on our website. We look forward to helping you get the relief you need and deserve.

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