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Kristin Hayes, R.N.

Ear, Nose, & Throat Blog

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More Americans Infected With HPV Than Previously Suspected

Friday May 30, 2014

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States and there has been a recent increase in the number of cancer cases caused by HPV infection. Previous estimates have guessed that about half of all adults in the U.S. are infected with HPV, but recently released results of a large scale study prove that 69% or 2/3 of American adults are infected with HPV. While this sounds chilling, you should know that there are approximately 109 known strains of HPV and only a handful of those are known to cause the diseases commonly associated with HPV including genital warts, cervical cancer, andhead and neck cancers such as oropharyngeal cancer. Most of the adults who were identified in the study to be infected with one or more strain of HPV were perfectly healthy.

"Our study offers initial and broad evidence of a seemingly 'normal' HPV viral biome in people that does not necessarily cause disease and that could very well mimic the highly varied bacterial environment in the body, or microbiome, which is key to maintaining good health," says senior study investigator and NYU Langone pathologist Zhiheng Pei, MD, PhD. Dr. Pei, an associate professor at NYU Langone in a Newswise article.

A separate study released earlier this month and published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology shows that although HPV is transmitted though sex there is very little chance that one partner infected with HPV will give it to an uninfected partner who will then develop cancer. These studies prove that there is still much about HPV that we don't know.

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Study Finds Increased Incidence of Hearing Loss in People with Sleep Apnea

Tuesday May 20, 2014

A large study, involving 13,967 individuals from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos, found an independent association between sleep apnea and both low and high frequency hearing loss. "Patients with sleep apnea are at increased risk for a number of comorbidities, including heart disease and diabetes, and our findings indicate that sleep apnea is also associated with an increased risk of hearing impairment" said lead study author Dr. Amit Chopra, M.D.  The study was presented at the 2014 American Thoracic Society International Conference.

Dr. Chopra is also quoted in a Newswise article as saying, "We found that sleep apnea was independently associated with hearing impairment at both high and low frequencies after adjustment for other possible causes of hearing loss." The article does not say specifically what other possible causes of hearing loss were adjusted for, such as ENT disorders which can increase your risk of both sleep apnea and hearing loss. The study also fails to account for any impact sleep apnea treatment might have on hearing loss.

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Home Testing for Sleep Apnea Less Costly and Doesn't Change Clinical Outcomes

Monday May 19, 2014

A study recently presented at The American Thoracic Society International Conference proves that home testing for sleep apnea followed by home treatment with an auto-titrated CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine costs significantly less than laboratory testing and does not negatively impact clinical outcomes. "In our randomized study, sleep-related costs were substantially lower for patients who underwent home testing and treatment initiation than for those who underwent laboratory testing, and this cost saving was accomplished without sacrificing clinical quality," said lead study author Charles W. Atwood Jr., associate professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and director of the Sleep Disorders Program at the VA Pittsburgh Health System.  You can read more about this study in Newswise.

Sleep apnea has been associated with heart disease, diabetes, depression, mood swings and even weight gain. Obstructive sleep apnea is probably the most common type of sleep apnea and occurs when something blocks the airway such as excess tissue around the neck and back of the throat from being overweight or having ENT disorders such as enlarged tonsils, adenoids, or turbinates.  It can also be caused by certain genetic conditions. Another type of sleep apnea, called central sleep apnea, occurs when your brain fails to adequately send the "breathe" message while you're asleep. This can occur due to advanced heart failure, stroke, or other neurological conditions. Treatments for sleep apnea include weight loss, ENT surgery, and CPAP.

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Tobacco and Alcohol Use Significantly Increases Risk of Esophageal Cancer

Tuesday April 29, 2014

A study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology proves that individuals who use both alcohol and tobacco nearly double their risk of developing a specific type of esophageal cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. This risk is significantly higher than that of individuals who use only alcohol or only tobacco but do not combine the two substances.

Cancer of the esophagus is a very serious type of cancer affecting about 5-10 Americans per 100,000. Treatment sometimes requires a risky surgical procedure to remove the esophagus completely (esophagectomy). In addition to alcohol and tobacco consumption other risk factors include acid reflux, GERD, or a condition called Barrett's esophagus.  Treatments for esophageal cancer are most effective if the cancer is caught early on.

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Specialized Treatment for Head and Neck Cancer Provides Better Outcomes

Monday April 28, 2014

Head and neck cancer has been on the rise in the U.S., this includes rare cancers like cancer of the tonsils, cancer of the sinus and nasal passageways, oral cancers and more. Many cases of head and neck cancer have been linked to the virus HPV. Tumors can be difficult to treat due to their location and the risk of damaging structures like the eyes, optic nerves, the brain stem, and spinal cord. Side effects that can occur from radiation treatment to these areas include hearing loss, neurological problems, and blindness. That's why a specialized form of radiation therapy, called SCAA Proton Therapy is so exciting.

Proton therapy is a more precise form of radiation therapy, which allows physicians to better target tumors without damaging surrounding structures. Proton therapy may also help patients better tolerate additional treatments such as chemotherapy. You can read more about SCAA Proton Therapy in Newswise.

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Ginseng May Prevent and Treat Influenza and RSV

Saturday April 26, 2014

A Korean researcher, Sang-Moo Kang, currently at Georgia State University's new Institute for Biomedical Sciences has found that a specific type of red ginseng may help to prevent and treat both the flu and respiratory syncitial virus (RSV). In a study recently published in the journal Nutrients Kang reports his findings that mice who were given ginseng over a long period of time had beneficial changes to their immune systems and lung cells which could prevent influenza infection and speed recovery if an infection occurs.

In a separate study which will be published in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine Kang reports his findings that red ginseng improves the survival of human lung epithelial cells against RSV and that ginseng also prevents RSV from replicating in the body. The results of similar studies on the positive effects of ginseng by Kang have previously been published.

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Free Allergy and Asthma Screening

Friday April 25, 2014

Allergies and asthma are two health conditions that affect millions of Americans and often go hand in hand. Allergies like hay fever can trigger asthma attacks, which can be frightening and in extreme cases even fatal. It is crucial to identify these conditions and treat them adequately to avoid complications.

As part of an annual campaign, The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) will offer free asthma and allergy screenings throughout the year at approximately 100 different locations. To find out if there will be a screening near you visit the ACAAI's website at www.acaai.org/nasp.

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What Causes Vertigo

Wednesday April 23, 2014

Vertigo is the sensation of movement when you're not actually moving. Some people describe it as feeling like the world is spinning around them. Others think of it as a fancy term for dizziness, but unlike dizziness, vertigo can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and severe sweating. Vertigo is a symptom rather than an illness.

Pau Gasol, a professional basketball player, recently made news when he missed multiple games due to a severe bout of vertigo. The cause of his vertigo is yet to be determined. In fact, because vertigo is a symptom of many, many, diseases it can be difficult to diagnose the underlying disorder.

The causes of vertigo can be divided into two categories: central vertigo, which is vertigo caused by a disorder of the brain or spinal cord, and peripheral vertigo, vertigo caused by a problem in the inner ear. Some of the most common causes of vertigo include:

For more information you may wish to read: Vertigo Causes and Symptoms

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NIH Spends $26 Million on Flu Research

Tuesday April 15, 2014

The National Institutes of Health has awarded $26 million to 5 institutions for influenza research. The goal is to reduce the estimated 30,000 flu related deaths that occur annually in the United States and to head off future influenza pandemics. Among the institutions awarded funds includes the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Scientists at Mount Sinai plan to study the ways that the flu is spread from one human to another and also from animals to humans. Researchers hope that their work will lead to better flu vaccines to prevent the transmission of influenza in the future.

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Spring Allergy Hype

Monday March 31, 2014

The headlines state that snow melting from the polar vortex will make this year the worst allergy season yet, or that the brutal winter will cause horrible spring allergies. In other news, a list of the 10 worst states for spring allergies. The message is clear... this spring is bound to be the worst ever. The only problem is that if you pay attention for a few years in a row you'll notice a pattern, experts seem to predict every spring to be the worst allergy season yet. Why is this? It's a good question, that probably has multiple answers.

First of all, there is some research indicating that the number of people who suffer from allergies is on the rise. Some health professionals believe this is due to global warming, a couple studies have shown possible links to things like low vitamin D, or more people living in cities. Some experts are skeptical that the incidence is rising at all but believe that more awareness means more people are just being diagnosed than before. Whatever the reason don't let these doomsday headlines get you down. Just because experts predict a lot of pollen this spring doesn't necessarily mean it will affect you. For your allergies to get worse there has to be an increase in the specific allergen that causes your symptoms and it has to be in your area.

Even the highly publicized list of the 10 worst states for spring allergies might be considered suspect. Which cities make the list and in which order is based on previous pollen counts, the number of allergists in an area, and the amount of allergy medication sold. Of the three only pollen counts could be considered a reliable indicator, but even so, just because previous years have meant high pollen counts in an area doesn't mean that same area will have a lot of pollen this year. However, if you do find yourself suffering from spring allergies we hope that the information in these articles can help:

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