Ear, Nose, Throat

What’s the best way to stop a nosebleed?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My son suffers from occasional nosebleeds. What's the best way to stop a nosebleed?

DEAR READER: Many people suffer from nosebleeds. I tend to get them this time of year when the air is cold and dry, as it irritates the normally warm, moist surfaces inside the nose. Most nosebleeds occur when a blood vessel in the nose's soft cartilage leaks.

What can I do to help reduce my tinnitus symptoms?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have tinnitus, and the constant sound is driving me crazy. What can I do?

DEAR READER: Tinnitus is commonly known as ringing in the ears. This phrase can be misleading, however. Some people hear ringing, while others hear whistles or a combination of sounds. Unusual sounds in your ears may seem like a trivial problem -- unless you have it.

Why do I sneeze when step outside from a dark room into the sunlight?

DEAR DOCTOR K: Often when I step outside from a dark room into the sunlight, I sneeze. Why does this happen?

DEAR READER: My colleague, Dr. Robert Shmerling, looked into this question once. I learned from him that there are many people like you, and even more who suddenly sneeze when they move suddenly from a warm environment to a cold one (or vice versa).

I suffer from vertigo, I’ve heard that the Epley maneuver may help –Could you explain what this is?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I suffer from benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. I've heard that something called the Epley maneuver may help. Could you explain what this is?

DEAR READER: Vertigo is the sensation that either your body or your environment is moving, usually spinning. Vertigo can be a symptom of many different illnesses and disorders. The type of vertigo you have -- benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) -- is the most common form.

I often feel like I have a lump of mucus in my throat — What can I do about it?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I often feel like I have a lump of mucus in my throat. In the morning I spit some of it up, but the sensation doesn't go away. What can I do about it?

DEAR READER: Doctors sometimes use the term "globus sensation" for the feeling of a lump in the throat. The first question I ask when a patient says he has a lump in his throat is: Is it just a feeling that there is a lump there, or is there something you can spit up?

What medications will make allergy season more bearable?

DEAR DOCTOR K: This year I'm suffering from seasonal allergies for the first time. What medications will make allergy season more bearable?

DEAR READER: Sneezing; itchy, runny, stuffy nose; red, itchy, watery eyes; sore throat. Hay fever can cause great misery. If misery loves company, you'll be pleased to know that I and millions of other people suffer from hay fever. Luckily, many medications can help treat its symptoms.

Should I take steroids for my chronic sinus infections?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have chronic sinusitis and nasal polyps. My specialist suggested trying oral corticosteroids. What do you think?

DEAR READER: "Steroids" is short for anti-inflammatory hormones called corticosteroids, and "oral" means steroids taken in pill form. I think a short course of five to seven days of oral steroids is worth a try. That's particularly true if your sinusitis isn't getting any better.

How can I prevent ear pain on an airplane?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I fly a lot for work and my ears always hurt during landing. Is there any way to prevent this?

DEAR READER: Yes, there is, and you're not alone. The ear pain you experience -- barotrauma of the ear -- is the most common medical problem reported by air travelers. "Barotrauma" refers to injuries caused by increased air pressure.

How is hearing loss tested?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I'm losing my hearing so my doctor has scheduled an audiological evaluation. What will this evaluation tell me?

DEAR READER: An audiological evaluation identifies the severity of your hearing loss and the frequency range in which it occurs. This information may help identify the cause of your hearing loss. It's also essential for determining whether you could benefit from a hearing aid and, if so, which style and type would help the most.