'Tis the Season: Winter's Ear, Nose, and Throat Problems

With winter in full swing, chances are that you or someone you love has been exposed to some sort of otolaryngological issue, whether it’s a nasty cold, a sore throat, or a bad case of the flu. With colder weather comes the chance of compromised immune systems and an increased risk of coming down with some kind of ENT illness.

As a quick holiday break from Oklahoma Otolaryngology Association’s usual blog posts about news and developments in the field of otolaryngology, OKOA would like to take this chance to go over a few of the more common winter-time ENT complaints.

First off, the common cold! Typically caused by a viral infection, the ‘common cold’ manifests in a number of different ways based on the type of virus attacking your respiratory system. However, as a host of different viruses can all be responsible for what we call the ‘common cold,’ there are various ways the viral infection can manifest, including an overabundance of mucus produced in your nasal cavities and chest, an irritated throat, and watery eyes.

As the common cold is a viral infection, there aren’t many ways to address the cause of the symptoms. However, the body often loses a large volume of water in trying to fight the infection, which means that keeping hydrated can help you get better faster. Tea and bed-rest are always advisable. If your symptoms persist for longer than one to two weeks, make sure to contact your health care provider.

Another common winter-time complaint is the sore throat. As the term ‘sore throat’ describes a symptom rather than a specific disease, it is difficult on the name alone to diagnose the cause of your discomfort. It is important to establish the source of your sore throat, whether it was caused by a viral infection, bacterial infection, or simple irritation based on exposure to extreme temperatures. Each cause necessitates a different course of treatment.

Of course, the ultimate winter-time complaint—and one of the more dangerous—is the Flu. Influenza, a viral infection which attacks your respiratory system, is a relatively common disease that reoccurs on a seasonal cycle. Typically, for a healthy individual, the symptoms of the Flu resolve themselves without intervention. However, in severe cases, or for those who have a compromised immune system (such as children or the elderly) the Flu can represent a significant health risk.

To prevent catching influenza, it is important to go out and get a yearly inoculation. Though injections can be scary, it is important to get one not only for your own personal health, but to prevent the spread of this potentially lethal disease.

If you have any questions, take a moment to contact us. If you need to make an appointment, our offices have moved! Our Mercy Tower location has closed, and Dr. Richards has moved to our new location at Mercy Plaza, Suite 115, while Dr. Gilchrist is moving to our Edmond clinic full time.