Posts tagged sore throat
Have you had a dry cough nagging away at you for the past few weeks? At first, we attribute it to the flu or just a cough that will ‘go away soon’. As time goes on, we start to ignore it and actually grow accustomed to the cough but this is incredibly dangerous for a number of reasons. Today, we’re going to uncover these reasons and see what your cough could mean (and why you should seek medical attention).
What Is a Dry Cough?
In case you were unaware, a dry cough is any type of cough that produces no mucus or phlegm. Otherwise known as a ‘non-productive’ cough, they quickly become irritating and cause frustration. Often, they get worse at night as you lie down and this prevents a good nights’ sleep and leads to further issues – trouble concentrating at work, constant daytime fatigue, and even impacts on your personal and professional relationships.
Normal Duration of a Cough
With this in mind, how long does a “typical” cough actually last? According to most experts, a cold or flu-related cough should disappear within two weeks. Though some will be shorter and some may extend to three weeks, this is the average duration a cough lasts.
If the cough lasts for more than eight weeks, this is treated as a chronic cough and for children this lasts around four weeks. If you’ve had a dry cough that has lasted for more than eight weeks, now is the time to see the doctor – especially if it’s affecting work/school, sleep, personal life, or produces bloody phlegm.
When you first visit the doctor, they’ll look into your medical history before beginning a medical examination. In this testing phase, they may take an x-ray as well as a computerized tomography (CT) scan. With a CT scan, they’ll be able to see the condition of your lungs as well as any issues that would produce a cough or issues within the sinus cavities. After this, they could also go for lung function tests, scope tests, and lab tests.
Possible diagnoses could include the following, some of which produce a dry cough:
- Asthma – First and foremost, a cough relating to asthma may come as the seasons change or after an upper respiratory tract infection. With asthma, it means there is an issue within the lungs and this leads to regular coughs, difficulty breathing, and many other side-effects. If this is the cause, you may be given an inhaler to aid with your breathing, help your lungs, and clear up the cough.
- Postnasal Drip – As the nose produces excess amounts of mucus, it can actually drip down into the throat and trigger the cough reflex. Also known as upper airway cough syndrome (UACS), it can continue for some time without treatment.
- Infections – After a bad case of the flu or an infection in the upper respiratory tract, whooping cough can form which is a bacterial infection within the airways and lungs.
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) – With this issue, stomach acid can back up into the esophagus (which connects your throat and stomach). This can cause both a wet and dry cough, which causes GERD, causing further coughing, etc.
- Bronchitis – Finally, this inflammation within the bronchial tubes (airways) can cause dry coughing. Although most sufferers are or were heavy smokers, it can occur in anyone and it falls into the spectrum for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- Other causes – Ultimately, these are the most common underlying problems for a dry cough but you could also be experiencing a side-effect from blood pressure drugs, cystic fibrosis, lung cancer, laryngopharyngeal reflux, and sarcoidosis.
Ultimately, the treatment required will depend entirely on the issue found. For example, antihistamines and decongestants are common for allergies and postnasal drip while antibiotics will be the best solution for infections. Furthermore, acid blockers would be advised for acid reflux although surgery is an option for the more severe cases.
Elsewhere, cough suppressants might be issued if the doctor cannot find the reason for the cough. If the cough is preventing you from sleeping and severely affecting your life, this solution should see you through until test results are returned and the doctor can work towards a proper treatment to get you back on your feet.
If you have a dry cough that doesn’t seem to be disappearing or if you’re coughing up blood, get in contact with your doctor today and you can have the problem treated rather than living with a potentially dangerous health condition.
With smoking as the most common cause in today’s society, leukoplakia will see the recipient experience white patches all over the tongue. In addition to the tongue, some also experience these thick patches in the lining of their mouth. If the issue isn’t too serious, it should go away within just a few days but it should also be noted that it can be a sign of something more worrisome such as oral cancer. With this in mind, it’s important to get in contact with a doctor if the problem doesn’t clear after a few days.
Today, we’re going to look into the main causes of leukoplakia as well as the symptoms (so you know what to look for) and how it gets treated!
Causes of Leukoplakia
Despite all the advancements we’ve seen in technology in recent years, we still don’t know exactly why these white spots appear. However, we do know that tobacco exacerbates the problem; this can be both chewing and smoking.
After this, it could be caused by chewing on the insides of our mouth, an inflammatory condition within the body, uneven teeth catching on our cheeks, and perhaps even dentures when they aren’t fitted as they should be. Furthermore, recent research suggests there could be a link between this and the human papilloma virus which is important to note.
The Diseases’ Symptoms
For those who have suffered from the issue, they note ‘strange-looking’ patches inside the mouth. Since most of us look into the mirror when brushing teeth and our tongue is constantly surveying the area, it doesn’t take long to notice something abnormal. Although the most common appearance will be white, we should also say that you might experience spots that are gray, hairy (we’ll discuss this in more detail in just a moment), red, and rough.
To pick up on a few points in the way the appearance can vary, redness is the most common sign of cancer. We recommend contacting a doctor if you see red spots inside your mouth. Furthermore, there is such a thing called ‘hairy leukoplakia’ and the main cause of this will be the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Once you have this virus, it will be with you for life even though it doesn’t often cause any problems for the body. With hairy leukoplakia, this is one of the few times it does make itself known.
Receiving a Diagnosis
Typically, leukoplakia can be diagnosed almost instantly with a simple oral exam. As well as your doctor, your dentist should also know the signs and professional help can be important because the majority of us will misdiagnose the issue as oral thrush. With the latter, the patches tend to be softer which causes them to bleed more frequently and this is how you tell the difference.
If the professional can’t advise on the issue immediately, they may request a couple of small tests just to be sure. By knowing exactly what the problem is, they can move forward to the treatment phase with confidence.
If cancer is suspected, a biopsy will be recommended and this is where the professional will remove some tissue from the affected area before sending it to a laboratory for further testing.
Treatment for the Disease
Once they’ve found the issue, how do they treat it? As mentioned previously, a standard case of leukoplakia won’t worry the doctor too much and they’ll suggest keeping an eye on the spots to make sure they disappear. If you smoke or chew tobacco, it’s important to avoid this trigger. If they fade away, you then know this was the cause and your doctor can provide suggestions for future prevention of the issue.
If your doctor suspected something a little more serious, they’ll wait for the biopsy results. If there are any signs of oral cancer, the patch will have to be removed to prevent the cancer from spreading. Ultimately, this procedure will be similar to a biopsy in that they’ll take the small patch with a scalpel or perhaps even laser treatment. If the patches are extensive and these two methods won’t help, full oral surgery will be required.
With hairy leukoplakia, they might be removed but it depends on the circumstances. For example, some retinoic acid antiviral medications can prevent the patches from growing.
Although the majority of cases are harmless, we recommend contacting a doctor if the spots are red in appearance or if they don’t fade away as they should after a few days!
More common in children than adults, tonsillectomies are performed to resolve tonsillitis or strep throat. The procedure also helps with breathing problems like snoring and sleep apnea. However, it’s a costly, as it removes the tonsils. Patients often undergo a tonsillectomy after dealing with several bouts of tonsillitis or throat infections. However, are they as effective as we think?
Why Are Tonsillectomies Are Being Called Into Question?
The Vanderbilt University Medical Center conducted an in-depth systematic review of four papers on the subject regarding tonsillectomies. This study focused on how effective the procedure was towards helping children with sleep-disordered breathing and throat infections.
“It’s probably the most comprehensive study in tonsillectomy literature ever done,” said investigator David Francis, M.D., M.S., assistant professor of Otolaryngology. “We determined the lay of the land of what’s known and what’s not known about this extremely common procedure.”
After a thorough review of the illness rates in children who have had tonsillectomies versus those who waited for the infection to resolve itself, they found that the benefits of this surgery may not be long term. Schools experienced a reduction in absences due to throat infections during the first year after most kids underwent surgery, but that benefit did not last over time.
More studies found that the surgery was effective at treating sleep-disordered breathing, the risk was minimal and only a small amount of patients needed readmission overtime. However, what the researchers could not find is if these benefits were long-term. Most of the studies that do research into tonsillectomies do not follow patients after a long period of time.
There were too many questions left unanswered for the researchers to make a defined conclusion. Still, this procedure is the best course of action for children who suffer from tonsillitis frequently. See an otolaryngologist to learn more about the procedure and if it is right for you or your children.
That nasal passage infections have been an important area of research for ENT specialists is no secret. Research in morphology and bacteria have recently yielded some crucial research in infections that originate in the nasal passage ways. Some animals are physically shaped by their environment in whole, not just in part. For example, earthworms are entirely slender so that they can weave in and out of narrow spaces in the ground. Evolution plays a key role in such benefits. But does that hold for all things big and microscopic? Interestingly, bacteria come in two shapes: there’s the spherical bacterium (coccus) and the stick-shaped (bacillus)?
Biologists and morphologists wonder if there’s a reason behind why one is spherical and the other slender-shaped. After analyzing pathogenic bacteria living in the nasopharynx, the upper part of the nose, questions of shape have been answered. These bacteria have changed over time, evolving from bacillus to coccus. In an article published in the journal PLOS Genetics, Professor Frédéric Veyrier, of INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier Research Centre, along with his colleagues, demonstrated that the change may have occurred to allow bacteria to pass through the defenses of their host’s immune system.
Respiratory infections are the number three cause of death worldwide. So understanding how these bacteria, or pathogens, make it into the upper respiratory passage way is critical. These pathogens are highly evolved, some so well that bacteria like Neisseria meningitidis and Moraxella catharralis can sometimes cause severe infections in humans. Genetic analysis of the ancestors of these bacteria pinpointed a key gene: yacF. The absence of this gene makes it possible for the shape of these bacteria to evolve. The N. meningitidis and M. catharralis found today in humans are spherical and missing the yacF gene.
The bacteria’s changing from stick-shaped to spherical has allowed the composition of certain molecules on their surface to transform. These molecules, peptidoglycans, play a vital role in how the immune system recognizes bacteria.
“We have long believed that the shape of bacteria was a fixed variable,” noted Professor Veyrier. “We even use it as a way to classify bacteria. Some mystery remains as to how the various species regulate their shape. This research demonstrates that the environment in which the bacteria evolve has an impact on their morphology. These are exciting results because we were able to identify the same change in two different species–and therefore its impact could be a key aspect in the specific way these pathogens are adapting to the human nasopharynx.”
By deepening our understanding of the evolution of bacteria, researchers believe they’ll be able to create new tactics that will prevent severe infections, even those related to sinus infections. This research about bacteria evolving over time could lead to preventing and treating such nasal passage infections that attack more than your head and sinuses, but your entire body.
Since 2007, scientists announced plans for a Human Microbiome Project to catalog the micro-organisms living in our body, and because of this project, a new body of research has had a profound influence on how such organisms affect our health. From this growing research, one study has found a possible link between throat microbes and schizophrenia, and this link could explain the etiology, that is, the causes, behind this neuropsychiatric disorder, and thus pave a way for new treatments.
In this peer-review study conducted at George Washington University in Washington, DC, and published in the journal PeerJ, researchers looked at the levels of fungi, bacteria and virus microbes in the oropharynx region of the throat. The reason for choosing this region, according to the head author Eduardo Castro-Nallar, is that the oropharynx region appears to contain different levels of oral bacteria in people with schizophrenia compared to people who don’t have the disorder. “Specifically, our analyses revealed an association between microbes such as lactic acid bacteria and schizophrenics,” he says.
A growing number of studies have demonstrated that the microbiome—the ecological community of viruses, bacteria and fungi found living on and within the human body—has recently been conntected to brain development, behavior and cognition.
Several studies published in Medical News Today and the New York Times have reported on how gut microbiome can reduce cognitive functioning and affect psychological moods and states such as anxiety and depression.
New research on our body’s microbiome—especially how it affects cognitive development and moods—is becoming more and more exciting in medicine. The link between throat bacteria and schizophrenia is one clear example of what’s happening with connecting the microbiome to health issues. Hopefully, more of this research will lead to improved sinusitis and some forms of sleep apnea.
This new study examined the complete microbiome by looking at viruses, bacteria and fungi present in 16 individuals with schizophrenia and 16 control participants. The researchers reported significant differences between the microbiome of schizophrenia patients and those of the control participants. The control participants were richer in microbe species but less even in their distribution than the participants with schizophrenia.
What this means is that evidence of the fungal species Candida dubliniensis was more evident in participants with schizophrenia, and the researchers suggested that this fungus may be connected with immune response problems. One lead researcher mentioned the importance of further and wider studies though.
“Our results suggesting a link between microbiome diversity and schizophrenia require replication and expansion to a broader number of individuals for further validation,” reports Keith Crandall, director of the Computational Biology Institute at George Washington University. He further explained, “But the results are quite intriguing and suggest potential applications of biomarkers for diagnosis of schizophrenia and important metabolic pathways associated with the disease.”
The researchers concluded that their findings were extremely important to understanding not only schizophrenia but also how our microbiome in the body affects cognitive development and other behavioral issues. Yet more research with diverse samples, such as in the gut microbiome, will be able to shed more light on the potential links between schizophrenia and these microbes.
Strep versus Sore Throat: Learn the Difference Here
When school is in session, outbreaks of strep throat can be common. Determining whether this common childhood infection is actually strep or just a sore throat can be challenging. Some parents may not be sure what the differences are or how to determine when to take a child to the doctor for treatment. Here are some things to keep in mind when weighing the differences between strep versus sore throat.
To start, a sore throat is generally caused by a virus. Usually, it will manifest along with other symptoms such as sneezing and a runny nose. There is no medicine that will cure a viral infection, so it generally just has to run its course. While they may be similar, there are marked variations between a strep and a virally induced sore throat.
Strep throat is caused by a bacterial infection. It is contagious, and this is one reason it spreads so quickly, particularly among little ones. Sneezing, coughing, and inadequate handwashing are some ways the infection can be spread. Generally, an infection leading to strep throat is treated with antibiotics. Symptoms may include fever, swollen tonsils, nausea, difficulty swallowing, and white and red patches on the throat. When these symptoms present themselves, it is a good idea to call the pediatrician. A swab test can be done to determine if there is in fact a strep infection. Plenty of rest, fluids, and a course of antibiotics are generally all that is needed to have children back to a normal routine.
The question often arises as to whether a child should have their tonsils removed in cases of frequent strep infection. Research has shown that this may be advisable when infections occur more than seven times in one year, or several times in two consecutive years. Talking to your pediatrician is best when making such a decision.
Knowing the differences between strep versus sore throat can save parents an emergency visit expense, but when in doubt always consult a medical professional.
Not Just a Procedure for Children: The Benefits of Tonsillectomy in Adults
Some children are prone to sore throats, strep throat, and tonsillitis. At times, these types of conditions are frequent enough that they warrant a tonsillectomy. This can prove to be a blessing for children as it brings much wanted relief. What about adults? A percentage of the adult population complains of frequent and painful sore throat. Missing days from work and school accumulate, and overall quality of life can be hindered. Is tonsillectomy for adults a reasonable solution to the problems experienced? An independent study was done that may shed some light on the topic.
European researchers found a group of individuals willing to participate in the study. Eighty-six patients who complained of frequent sore throat were closely studied. Forty-six of these participants elected to have a tonsillectomy. The others were part of the control group. Follow-up after the procedure was done at five months. Seeing as the patients chose to undergo surgery, the results may reflect a bias. Nevertheless, researchers are certain there was an overall improvement in condition.
For those who had their tonsils removed, only one complaint of a sore throat was made. When compared to the control group, where 80 percent complained of a sore throat at some point within those five months, there is a marked difference. Those who opted to have the tonsillectomy also showed improved numbers when it came to the amount of days from work and school missed.
While a tonsillectomy may be mostly associated with juvenile-associated sore throat, there is a slight advantage to opting for the procedure later on in life. For those adults who suffer from chronic pharyngitis or sore throat, this may be the help they have been looking for. Being a unique study, researchers intend to look a bit further into tonsillectomy for adults later in life.
A common condition that often goes undiagnosed is a voice disorder. Many simply ignore the condition or do not recognize it for what it is. Many have postulated that voice disorders are more common amongst females. This may be because of the fact that many women have jobs and responsibilities that require more time speaking each day, such as teaching, reception, law and administrative assisting. And some women are stay-at-home moms, and young children can keep conversations going all day with a simple question: Why?
What are the symptoms that reveal the beginning of a voice disorder? Don’t ignore it if you suffer from pain when you speak, have frequent sore throats, have difficulties in controlling the volume of your voice or have persistent bouts of hoarseness. You may also experience having to frequently cough or clear your throat while speaking. Smoking and frequent yelling are two habits that can both put a person at greater risk for a voice disorder and should thus be avoided.
What else can you do to help prevent a voice disorder? Be sure to drink the recommended amount of water each day. Keeping your throat moist is the best way to protect your voice. If you frequently have to speak to large groups (meetings at work, etc.), try having a PA system set up so you don’t have to strain your voice to be heard. Breathe properly and practice speaking from the diaphragm rather than straining your voice as well. Limit the intake of liquids that dry you out, such as alcohol and coffee. Finally, try not to overstrain your voice, as in shouting at concerts or sporting events.
If you start to experience symptoms of a voice disorder, don’t be afraid to see a specialist to have it checked out. Your ability to communicate is too important to ignore.