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In the second episode of the Swain Sinus Show, Dr. Ron Swain explains the ins and outs of rhinology and discusses some challenges with sinus operations and treatments. Stacy Wellborn and Dr. Swain define chronic sinusitis, and share some simple things you can do at home to avoid getting the common cold and sniffles. Lastly, we find out what medical training is needed to become an (ENT) Ear, Nose and Throat Doctor and Sinus Specialist.
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Ep.2 - What Is Rhinology?
Stacy: In today's episode, Dr. Swain explains what rhinology is, some challenges with sinus operations and treatments, what is chronic sinusitis specifically, and what are some simple things you can do at home to avoid getting the common cold and sniffles. So Dr. Swain, you are an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor, also commonly called an ENT doctor. Tell me what all is involved in your practice, and also, how did you become...what was your training to become an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor?
Dr. Swain: That's a great question. An Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor is a physician who specializes in taking care of problems with the ear, nose, and throat, ear infections, sinus infections, respiratory problems, hearing problems, even head/neck cancer problems. The training to be an ENT doctor, it's long. Usually, people have to go through four years of medical school, and then there's a residency program, which is a five-year residency program. And then there's subspecialty training afterwards if you wanna do that, and that's called a fellowship. I chose to do a year of additional training in nasal and sinus surgery. An ENT doctor will treat all aspects of ear, nose, and throat problems, anything from a runny nose to cancer.
Stacy: So what is Rhinology?
Dr. Swain: Rhinology is a subspecialty of otolaryngology, or ENT, and that just basically deals with problems with nasal and sinus problems, bad sinusitis, cancers of the nasal cavity, nasal obstruction, and including allergy problems. Even things as, "Hey, I have a runny nose after I eat." So it's really the subspecialization and treatment and surgery of the nose and nasal cavity.
Stacy: You've said that most of your patients don't need sinus surgery, but if I do have surgery, would I be cured of my sinus issues? Would I need to keep seeing you as my sinus doctor?
Dr. Swain: Chronic sinusitis is an entity that surgery is the first step in a 10-step process if medical treatment fails. And so it's not a, "Hey, I'm gonna have an operation. Boom, I'm well." It's, "Hey, I'm having an operation, and this is not the end. This is the end of the beginning." The nose is one of those things that's constantly being exposed to the environment, and you're continually getting sick. I mean, people can get colds, people can get upper respiratory tract infections, and so that whole cavity is a functioning space. The sinuses continue to function like normal sinuses, and as such, you can continue to get sick. Most of the chronic sinus stuff is actually getting the physiological space to work and continue to work properly.
Stacy: So define for me what it means "chronic sinusitis."
Dr. Swain: There are actually definitions on all this, believe it or not. The American Academy of Otolaryngology and the American Rhinologic Society have definitions on different kinds of sinusitis, so there's acute sinusitis, there's a chronic sinusitis, there's acute exacerbations of chronic sinusitis, there's subacute sinusitis. So to answer your question, though, chronic sinusitis is typically defined as an infection or inflammation lasting longer than 12 weeks.
Stacy: Would acute be what I would think of as a cold? Sort of a head cold would be an acute sinusitis?
Dr. Swain: Yes. You know, the most common scenario is, you know, "My kid was sick, and they sneezed on me, and I got a sore throat. And now I've got pain in my cheek, and I'm blowing out all this yellow stuff from my nose, and my nose is all congested."
Stacy: You know, the other thing we often talk about in families is you just pass colds around.
Dr. Swain: I'm well aware of that, yeah, and that is so common. People living in close proximity to each other, yeah, can pass those viral illnesses back and forth and subsequently get sick. I've been fortunate enough that I take care of several families. Mom will bring the children in, and the mom gets sick, and the last person to come usually is dad, usually.
Stacy: Do you have any tricks for, so when the mom brings the kids in, what to do to keep it from spreading through the household?
Dr. Swain: You know, the common things that you hear: wash your hands, keep your hands off your face, be sure not to eat or drink after other people. You know, we tell people all the time, you know, be sure you get your immunizations, be sure you get your flu shot. But when you're living in a close family and somebody's sick, it's we don't have a cure for the common cold. The most common things are, you know, chicken noodle soup and things that your mom told you when you were growing up.
Stacy: Right. Rest, fluids, soup.
Dr. Swain: Yep.
Stacy: How do I get an appointment?
Dr. Swain: It's really easy to get an appointment to see me. If you would call and speak to my nurses, the direct line is 251-470-8823. Again, that number is 251-470-8823, and you can find the number on the internet at swainsinusshow.com. My nurses are Mandy Webster and Chasity Wooten and Emily Demet. If you'd call that number directly, my nurses can help you get set up to have an appointment to see me.
Stacy: Thanks for listening to the "Swain Sinus Show." Please subscribe to our show on iTunes, Overcast, Stitcher, and anywhere you download your favorite podcasts. Want to know more about Dr. Swain or to schedule a consultation or appointment, visit swainsinusshow.com or call his amazing nursing staff at 251-470-8823. We would love to hear what you think about the show. Email us at email@example.com. Again, thanks for listening, breathe easy, and have a great day.
This show is brought to you in part by the fine physicians and friendly staff at Premier Medical Group in Mobile, Alabama.
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