Episode 50: Ear, Nose, and Throat Health

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Episode Summary:

The ear, nose, and throat (ENT) have their own medical specialty, based on proximity and function.  Guest Dr. Ian Humphreys takes us through a range of basic ENT health issues, including chronic irritation of the sinuses, disordered smell, ringing ears, hearing loss, swallowing problems, vocal cord issues, and oral cancers.


Ian M. Humphreys, D.O. Associate Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery( ENT) at University of Washington School of Medicine. He is currently Director of the Division of Rhinology & Endoscopic Skull Base Surgery at the University of Washington Medical Center – Montlake. His research interests include cancers of the sinuses and skull base as well as fungal infections involving the sinuses. If patients want to learn more they can find us via this patient care link.

During This Episode We Discuss:

  1. Sinusitis symptoms can include difficulty breathing through the nose, constantly runny nose, pressure in the face, and alterations of smell and taste. These can be debilitating but are treatable.  We have 8 sinuses and a nasal airway (like a hallway with doors along each side); any or all of these could be involved.
  2. Sinusitis is one of the top chronic diseases in prevalence and incidence in the US and around the world. In the US there are different subtypes of sinusitis, with different causes, each requiring different treatment approaches.
  3. The HPV vaccine is a preventative against HPV-related oral cancer. Not using tobacco in any way is a preventative against other oral cancers.
  4. Noise-induced hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss and is not reversible. Noise-reduction safety regulations exist as a preventative against noise-related hearing loss. Noise-related hearing loss is of increasing concern for headphone/ear pod users. Reduce decibels and length of exposure.
  5. Men are less likely to seek evaluation or intervention for hearing loss; possibly because hearing loss and aids are stigmatized.
  6. Helpful tips: Be gentle to your vocal cords: clearing your throat is hard on them. How to clean (or not) your ears, and how to fix a minor nosebleed. 
  7. Smell and taste are often affected by COVID-19. It appears most people recover fully or partially, but it is not yet known what any longer-term effects might be.

Quotes (Tweetables):

—“It turns out we have 8 sinuses, and sometimes all can be involved.”

Dr. Ian Humphreys

—“Sinusitis is really portrayed as if it’s one thing. It’s not. There are a variety of forms of this condition…”

Dr. Ian Humphreys

—“For COVID-19, we don’t yet quite know what the trajectory looks like [for smell and taste].”

Dr. Ian Humphreys

— “So if a person has diminished smell, they can expect diminished flavor. What do I mean by that? Well, taste is defined as sweet, sour, salty, umami, and bitter. Everything else is flavor. So that’s what makes a raspberry different than a blueberry.”

Dr. Ian Humphreys

  1. American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery 
    1. A rich source of patient resources and information 
    2. To find an ear, nose, and throat doctor

Episode Transcript:

Coming soon!

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