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How to recognize the beginning stages of hearing loss

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48 Million people in the United States have some degree of hearing loss. Hearing loss can happen at any age, 15% of school children (6-19 years of age) also have some degree of hearing loss. Signs of hearing loss can be either very subtle and develop slowly and take years to develop, or can be significant and develop rapidly almost as if it happened over night.
Some of the signs and symptoms you or a loved one could be experiencing if you are developing hearing loss are:

  • have a hard time hearing in noisy situations, like conferences, restaurants, or crowded meeting places.
  • have ringing in your ears.
  • have your TV or radio turned up to a high volume.
  • have difficulty following conversations involving more than 2 people.
  • read lips and concentrate on people’s faces when they speak with you.

Hearing loss can also be an emotional, and a shock to your system. Some people may notice emotional changes either in themselves or loved ones. Some things you or your loved ones could be feeling if you are experience hearing loss are:

  • feeling embarrassed or reluctant to meet new people for fear of misunderstanding what others are saying.
  • feeling stressed out from straining to hear what others are saying.
  • withdraw from social situation that you once enjoyed because of difficulty hearing.
  • feeling angry, lonely or fatigued

There are things you can do if you suspect hearing loss in yourself or a loved one. Don’t suffer in silence, help is available. Consult with an Audiologist if you think you may have any signs of hearing loss. An audiologist can perform diagnostic testing to assess the degree and type of hearing loss. They can develop a plan to help you hear better and reduce any anxiety you have about hearing loss. Just remember you or your loved ones are not alone, again 48 million people in the United States alone have some degree of hearing loss. So, find the closest qualified Audiologist, and go see what they can do for you or your loved ones.

How do I find an Atlanta based ENT

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An otolaryngologist is a specially trained physician in disorders of the ears, nose, throat, as well as the head and neck. Commonly referred to as an ENT. Otolaryngologists represent the oldest specialty of physicians. Otolaryngologists now belong to an organization known as the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. With over 12,000 doctors that are part of this organization, how can you identify the one that will be the best for you? Let’s help you identify things that can help you decide the right Atlanta ENT for you.

What do ENT Doctors Treat?

The field of otolaryngology is extensive, but here is a list of the common types of disorders that an ENT doctor will treat.

  • Allergies including Allergic Rhinitis
  • Snoring and Sleep Apnea
  • Thyroid/Parathyroid nodules
  • Sore Throat / Hoarseness
  • Ear Pain
  • Hearing loss
  • Dizziness
  • Swallowing Disorders
  • Sinus disorders such as Chronic Sinusitis
  • Facial plastic surgery

Where to begin

Get a referral from your primary care doctor or self-refer if your insurance allows you to. You can also ask family, friends and other healthcare providers for recommendations. Take the time to research the doctors’ credentials and experience, making sure they are Board Certified. Experience matter when it comes to preventing or treating a health condition.

Choose an ENT that has a location that is convenient for you whether that is close to your home or work.

Making your decision

Have a list of questions ready to ask your doctor, as many people find when they go to their initial appointment they forget to ask all the things they have wanted to.
Choose an ENT that you feel listens to your concerns and answers your questions in ways that you can understand. Choose an ENT that is interested in getting to know you and will consider your treatment preferences and respect your decision-making process.

Summer ENT Ears

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By: Dr. Dharamsi

As you start gearing up for summer time fun, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to think about how to optimize your Ears, Nose, and Throat health. The ears, in particular, can be a significant source of distress when their health becomes compromised.

Whether it is lakes, rivers, streams, or swimming pools, many of us rely on these bodies of water for relief from the summer heat . With this increase in water exposure comes an increase in the rates of outer ear infections (otitis externa) amongst our patients. Tips to keeping your ears healthy year round:

  1. NEVER use Q tips™: Cotton swabs can relieve that difficult-to-reach itch. However, many times they create small cuts in your ear canal skin, perfectly suited for bacteria grow and flourish. Remember the adage, “You shouldn’t put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear.”
  2. After water exposure, place 2-3 drops of a 1:1 mixture of white vinegar and medical grade rubbing alcohol into your ear. DO NOT do this if you have ever been told you have a hole in your ear drum or if you have had prior ear surgery (ear tubes included).
  3. Schedule an appointment to see your ENT provider should you have any unusual ear pain, drainage, changes in hearing, or any other concerning symptoms.

Outer ear infections that are difficult to control oftentimes require regular visits to your ENT doctor for assessment and cleaning, so don’t hesitate to go in for a visit.

Fall Season Allergies

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By: Dr. Latif Dharamsi

Itching, sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose, and nasal congestion – all can be warning signs of seasonal allergies. Allergies come in many flavors with seasonal and perennial allergies being the most common. One common misconception is that allergies only occur during the spring. Unfortunately, this annoying condition commonly affects individuals during the fall as well and can have a significant impact on one’s quality of life.

So why do allergies occur? In order for human beings to survive, we have evolved an immunological response to help defend us against pathogens (e.g. viruses and bacteria). Unfortunately, sometimes our immune system can erroneously identify a “benign” substance as a threat causing a toned-down or rarely a life-threatening allergic response.

Fall allergies are just as prevalent as those in the spring, and recognizing this is important. Common fall time offenders are weed pollens, namely the ragweed in Georgia. Other times, one may be experiencing a response to a perennial allergen. These include dust mites, indoor molds, cockroaches, and animal dander.

If you have fall-time allergies, the best remedy is to avoid the allergen. Oftentimes, this is easier said than done. To minimize your ragweed exposure you can (1) keep the doors and windows in the car and house closed, (2) use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, (3) change your clothes and shower after working outdoors for prolonged periods of time, and (4) rinse your nose with over-the-counter nasal saline to reduce your allergen load.

In the event that none of the above conservative measures work for you, there are common treatments that your primary care physician and ENT physician can provide including allergy testing, nasal/oral antihistamines and steroids, immunotherapy, and surgery. Many times the key to treating your allergies involves a multifaceted approach and persistence on the part of you and your doctor. The physicians at Northwest ENT and Allergy Center specialize in providing complete allergy testing and the medical management of seasonal and year-round allergies. Our treatments include the latest in state of the art technologies, including:

  • Medications
  • Subcutaneous Immunotherapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Sublingual Immunotherapy

Sublingual Immunotherapy is a painless, convenient treatment that can permanently reverse symptoms within three years. Administered at home, drops are a convenient cost effective alternative as it prevents patients from having to schedule weekly appointments and endure painful shots.

6 Things you need to Know about Thyroid Cancer

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First of all, what is thyroid cancer? It is a form of cancer that develops from the tissues in the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located in the front of the throat, below the Adam’s apple. The thyroid gland produces several important hormones that regulate the body in different ways. It controls the body temperature, weight, energy levels and heart rate. Here are a few Thyroid Cancer symptoms to look out for.

Swelling: An early sign of thyroid cancer is an unusual lump, nodule or swelling in the neck. Most nodules on the thyroid are benign, but it’s important to have any nodules or growths examined by a doctor.
Neck Pain: Neck pain can start from the front and may extend all the way to the ears
Voice Changes: Hoarseness and other voice changes that do not go away after a certain time could be a sign of thyroid cancer
Breathing Problems: Breathing difficulty is often a symptom of the disease.
Coughing: A cough that persists, that isn’t connected to a cold or other respiratory issue.
Trouble Swallowing: A growth or nodule that interferes with swallowing

Dr. Shatul Parikh is a recognized expert in minimally invasive thyroid/parathyroid surgery. Please visit our websites to learn more: www.the-thyroid-surgeon.com and www.thyroid-parathyroid.com

Here are a few other thyroid tips.

  1. Thyroid cancer has had the fastest increase in incidence of any cancer in recent years.
  2. Thyroid cancer affects people of all ages, from young children to seniors.
  3. Both women and men get thyroid cancer — more than two-thirds of the people with thyroid cancer are women.
  4. Thyroid cancer has many types and variants, with treatment tailored to the type and individual.
  5. When found early, thyroid cancer is usually treatable.
  6. Even when treatable, thyroid cancer is life-disrupting, expensive, and stressful for patients and loved ones.
  7. A simple Neck Check done by a medical professional during a routine appointment can detect a thyroid nodule.
  8. Most thyroid nodules are benign, not cancer.
  9. However, some thyroid cancers are aggressive and difficult to treat.

Peruvian Mission to Lend a Hand

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Peruvian Child With Cleft LipDr. Shatul Parikh, medical director of the Northwest ENT Surgery Center, recently made his sixth medical mission trip- this time to Ayacucho, Peru. Working with other doctors on the mission trip and locals physicians. Dr. Parikh performed cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries on children and thyroid surgeries on adults. Poor nutrition and a lack of dietary options leave Peruvians in this area particularly susceptible to these conditions.

Peruvian Child With Enlarged Lymph NodesOne case stood out- a 12-year-old boy with massive lymph nodes in his neck. A local physician told him that he could not be cured. However, Dr. Parikh said, “I took the patient to the operating room and (afterwards) was able to have his tissue brought to the U.S. for testing. It turned out to be a very treatable cancer and PAMS Mission was able to fly him to Lima for treatment.”

Dr. Parikh finds medical mission work to be very rewarding, and comes away from the experience feeling that, “we are very lucky in the U.S. with the healthcare and access to resources for both poor and wealthy.” Many third world countries have similar problems, and he encourages other doctors to become involved in medical missions.

Convenient Ultra Sounds and Biopsies

Although a vast majority of thyroid nodules are benign, a small portion of them do contain thyroid cancer. In order to diagnose and treat thyroid cancer at the earliest stage, most thyroid nodules should be evaluated by a specialist.

At the Northwest Thyroid and Parathyroid Center, we can perform a quick ultrasound and biopsy of the thyroid nodules-often on the initial appointment. This allows for expedited results of the biopsy, whether benign or cancerous. Quick and convenient, this procedure is paired with an optional payment arrangement for patients who have a high deductible or simply can’t afford on lump sum payment. IN some instances, we are a more cost –effective option when compared to a hospital or imaging center. For more information, please visit www.the-thyroid-surgeon.com and www.thyroid-parathyroid.com.

May Is Better Hearing Month, so Celebrate the Sounds of your Life!

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By: Dr. Sean Barak

Did you know that hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the United States? It affects more than 36 million Americans today. Although hearing problems are commonly associated with the normal aging process, more than half of all hearing-impaired persons are younger than 65. With the increased use of personal music players and earbuds, the number of Americans experiencing hearing loss at a younger age is growing.

On average, most Americans consider hearing loss a condition that is simply associated with aging, and don’t know how to recognize the condition or who is qualified to diagnose and treat the condition. In an effort to raise public awareness for the growing number of Americans suffering from hearing loss, the American Academy of Audiology in conjunction with Northwest Audiology and Hearing Aid Center is celebrating Better Hearing Month this May.

As part of Better Hearing Month, Northwest Audiology and Hearing Aid Center is encouraging people to be more aware of their hearing health.

“Hearing loss can be caused by exposure to loud noise; ear infections, trauma, or ear disease; harm to the inner ear and ear drum; illness or certain medications; and deterioration due to normal aging process,” explains Sean Barak, Au.D.

An audiologist is a highly educated and clinically experienced health-care professional who specializes in evaluating, diagnosing, and treating people with hearing loss and balance disorders. Hearing loss can affect patients of all ages-newborns, infants, babies, toddlers, children, teens, adults, and the elderly.

You may have a problem with your hearing and need to see an audiologist, if you have trouble hearing conversation in a noisy environment such as a restaurant, are unable to hear people talk to you without looking at them, or have a constant ringing or pain in your ears.

The first step in treatment of a hearing problem is a hearing evaluation by an audiologist. Northwest Audiology and Hearing Aid Center’s team of audiologists have a variety of specialties to include, but not limited to:

  • Performing hearing evaluations on adults and pediatrics
  • Prescribing and fitting hearing aids
  • Assisting with cochlear implant programs
  • Performing dizziness and balance assessments

Although most hearing loss is permanent, an audiologist can determine the best treatment, which may include hearing aids, assistive listening devices, and hearing rehabilitation. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact us at (770) 422-2777.

Sinusitis: The Never-ending Head Cold

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Dr. Kauffman giving patient a sinus examIt’s only the beginning of March and already you’ve started to feel the bothersome prickling of head-colds and a runny nose. Common Sino-nasal symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Sinus Pressure
  • Drainage
  • Sore Throat
  • Coughing

Common symptoms this time of the year include nasal congestion, post nasal discharge and facial pressure. Nasal inflammation can result from both allergic and non-allergic causes resulting in constant nasal congestion and drainage. For many Americans, it is easy to slip from the annoying, Sino-nasal symptoms to a chronic sinus infection. When the opening of the sinuses becomes blocked, mucus collects in the sinus resulting in an ideal environment for bacteria to grow and cause sinusitis. Sinusitis lasting more than three months is considered chronic sinusitis. Non-surgical management if these types of infections include antibiotics, decongestants, as well as topical systemic steroids. Symptoms of chronic sinusitis may be less severe than those of acute infection and often times requires surgery.

The 411 on Strep Throat in Kids

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Many parents often wonder how to tell the difference between a sore throat and an actual strep throat infection. A child with strep throat can experience red and white patches in the throat, tender or swollen lymph nodes in the neck, enlarged tonsils, and fever (typically higher than 101°). If two or more of these symptoms occur, the child should see a primary care physician.

Dr. Kauffman with PatientA rapid strep test or throat swab may be required and If strep throat is diagnosed, then antibiotics will be prescribed. Symptoms typically improve within 24-48 hours of starting medications. Children can typically return to school once fevers are gone, they are feeling well, and have taken antibiotics for at least 24 hours. It is important to stress hand washing and good cough etiquette to prevent the spread of infection.

Unfortunately, strep throat is most common in school-age children. Up to one-third of children with sore throats in the winter will test positive for strep throat. The infection is easily spread through sneezing, coughing, or by touching toys or surfaces that have been touched by an infected child. What’s worse, strep throat can cause a child to be contagious for up to 3 weeks if left untreated.

If the infections become frequent or symptoms do not resolve with antibiotics, specifically the swelling of the tonsils and lymph nodes, it is time to visit an ENT physician. A tonsillectomy, or removal of the tonsils, may be necessary. Dr. Ingley and the entire group of physicians are talented in making kids feel comfortable and safe during their appointments. For more information, visit http://nw-ent.com/pediatric-ent/.

Thyroid Awareness and Importance

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Have you had your neck checked? There are a number of different symptoms that may suggest that you need medical attention. One of the most common thyroid symptom is finding a lump or nodule in the area of your neck where the thyroid is located. During a neck check, physicians look for any signs of swelling or for a lump/thyroid nodule.

Dr. Parikh with a PatientOther symptoms of a thyroid issue include trouble swallowing, throat or neck pain, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, cough, and vocal changes. Luckily, early detection saves lives as does prompt treatment and life-long follow-up. Click here for more information on how to do a neck check at home.

Dr. Shatul Parikh is the Director of the Northwest ENT Thyroid & Parathyroid Center.

Dr. Parikh is a nationally recognized expert in minimally invasive thyroid/parathyroid surgery. Click here to learn more about Dr. Parikh.

Office Updates:Northwest ENT is abiding closely by CDC guidelines in reference to the Coronavirus.

For your protection, the following is being requested:

  • If you feel sick in any way, please call to reschedule your appointment or utilize our telemedicine option.
  • At your appointment you will be screened and your temperature taken.
  • Please bring your own personal cloth mask for your protection.
  • Be prepared to wait in your personal vehicle while we prepare a disinfected exam room for you.
  • 1 visitor per patient is allowed. Children are an exception.