The throat is an integral part of our body that supports everyday functions such as breathing and swallowing food. Issues with the throat must be diagnosed and treated quickly to avoid ongoing health issues. Some throat disorders are mild and can be easily treated, but others can be much more serious.
Laryngopharyngeal Reflux, abbreviated as LPR, is a type of acid reflux in which stomach contents flow back up the esophagus into the throat, including the pharynx and larynx. LPR is often compared to another reflux condition known as gastrointestinal reflux disease or GERD. While the two conditions are similar, there are some key differences:
Each type of reflux can present differently, and depending on the symptoms, GERD is usually treated by a gastroenterologist, while LPR is typically treated by visiting an ENT.
Patients generally experience both LPR and GERD as both types of reflux travel up the esophagus. However, it is possible to have either one without the other.
Sleep apnea is when a person stops breathing intermittently during sleep. While there are multiple types of sleep apnea with different causes, the most common type is caused by airway obstruction while sleeping. The more severe the apnea, the worse the symptoms. Some symptoms of sleep apnea include:
There are also multiple treatment paths for sleep apnea depending on specific conditions and health factors. However, in most cases of obstructive sleep apnea, it is advised to see an otolaryngologist to get long-term treatment for symptoms and complications caused by sleep apnea.
Chronic Cough and Throat Clearing
Patients who suffer from a chronic cough without a reliable diagnosis or are constantly clearing their throat due to irritation or blockage should see an ENT doctor as soon as possible. What may seem like a mild irritation may be a much more serious condition. There are multiple potential causes of chronic cough or throat clearing, such as:
While the cause is sometimes mild and may go away on its own, it may require specialized treatment in more severe cases.
Chronic cough and throat clearing can sometimes be intermittent such as with seasonal allergies or during cold and flu season when illness is more common.
Tonsillitis, also called tonsil inflammation, is a condition that typically affects children, teens, and young adults. It is most often triggered by a viral infection and sometimes bacterial infections. It is important to identify and treat tonsillitis quickly, as it can cause severe complications if left untreated.
In the worst-case scenario, the patient may need surgery to remove the tonsils if the condition is left untreated for too long. Here are some signs that you may have tonsillitis:
Depending on the cause, tonsillitis is easily treated by an ENT doctor with antibiotics like penicillin or antivirals. Tonsillitis symptoms subside within a few days after treatment.
Some studies suggest that adults with tonsils removed are less likely to have throat infections.
Being unable to swallow is not only uncomfortable, but it can have several different health implications. There are several causes of swallowing disorders ranging from very mild to severe. You should see an ENT doctor immediately if you:
Because causes can range from inflammation and swelling due to illness or infection to dysphagia, it is important to talk with your ENT immediately to determine if you need additional testing and what treatment options are available based on the cause of your swallowing difficulty.
Some patients who experience swallowing disorders will require specialized testing to determine if they have a condition known as dysphagia. FEES testing (Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing) uses a specialized instrument passed down through a person’s nose into their throat to check for signs of blockages or dysphagia. Patients who experience any of the following symptoms may need FEES testing:
You should see a throat specialist if you experience any of these symptoms. The sooner the exact cause is diagnosed, the more likely it will be treated successfully.
Patients may be recommended for FEES testing even if they don’t exhibit symptoms if a doctor determines they are at risk for certain swallowing disorders.
Thyroid nodules are solid or fluid-filled lumps that can form inside the thyroid. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland found in the base of the neck that is responsible for producing certain hormones within the body. The presence of thyroid nodules can indicate that a patient has thyroid disease. Thyroid nodules should be diagnosed by an ENT doctor, but may be any of the following:
Drastic changes in weight without explanation may also be a sign of thyroid nodules.
Up to 60% of patients with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition, which is why early diagnosis is so important.
Frequently asked questions
Have questions? We are here to help.
An ‘insurance referral’ is a referral that is obtained by your PCP, directly through your insurance provider’s dedicated referrals portal. There is usually an associated referral number that is added to the claim that is submitted to your insurance with the claim for the services we provide. If your insurance requires a referral, we do not schedule an appointment until we have received this from your PCP. The reason for this is to protect the patient from receiving a large bill for services that normally would have been covered, if a referral had been obtained.
A ‘clinical referral’ is documentation from your referring provider, explaining the reason why they are referring you to our practice, and any past treatments, diagnostic testing, or other pertinent information that will assist our MD’s in treating you optimally.
As specialists, we have certain providers that require a ‘clinical referral’, prior to scheduling, to ensure that the referral is appropriate, and that necessary testing has been performed prior to seeing our physician. This is to ensure that a visit is not ‘wasted’ if the physician is not able to help you, or if necessary testing for optimal treatment has not been ordered and performed.
Univoto’s specialists, and especially our sub-specialists, are very unique in their expertise, and this means that we are sometimes the sole resource for patients with complex head and neck disorders. This does mean that our schedules fill up quickly, and it may take up to three months to get a ‘New Patient’ appointment with one of our providers.
We can assure you that if you have an urgent need to be seen quickly, we have a process in place to get you in within 24 to 48 hours. Urgency is determined by a referral from a primary care physician, so if you feel your case is urgent, please reach out to your primary care physician as a first step.
We also are happy to offer appointments with our Physician’s Assistant, much more expediently. Please ask your patient coordinator if your diagnosis is one that our PA can treat, to decrease your wait time.