When something hurts, aches or just doesn't feel right, your body is trying to tell you something. But often, people overlook issues like plugged ears, a stuffy nose or a scratchy throat.
From basic health maintenance to recognizing factors that can cause irritation or damage, here are five things you should know about ear, nose and throat health, and when to seek medical care.
1. Some wax is good for your ears
Concerned about wax in your ears? Don’t be. Earwax actually helps prevent dust and other irritants from entering your ears. While you may be tempted to get rid of as much earwax as you can, leaving some behind can help keep ears healthy.
While a buildup of earwax is usually more annoying than dangerous, too much may cause blockages or hinder hearing. Try these simple steps to clear it out:
- Gently clean the outside of your ears with a washcloth. Never put a cotton swab or other instrument in your ear canal. It can cause pain, hearing loss or canal irritation.
- To soften wax, place a few drops of baby oil, hydrogen peroxide, mineral oil or glycerin in your ear, or try an over-the-counter wax removal kit.
- Visit your nearby Indigo Health. Our providers will examine your ear canal and remove any excess wax quickly and safely.
Your ear discomfort may be more than wax. Indigo can also diagnosis your earache. If you have an ear infection that requires antibiotics, we can prescribe you medication. Learn more about earaches and how they’re treated.
2. Dry air can irritate your throat
When the air is dry, it sucks away moisture from your mouth and throat. This can leave your throat scratchy and dry, and cause hoarseness.
To lessen sore throat discomfort, try one of these remedies:
- Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air
- Eat warm foods or cool off pain with ice cream or popsicles
- Use over-the-counter throat lozenges
- Drink plenty of fluids, including warm liquids like herbal tea
- Gargle with salt water
If you suspect your sore throat is the symptom of illness, visit your nearby Indigo Urgent Care. Indigo is open seven days a week, so you get care and advice when you need it.
All of our locations offer rapid strep testing and results within minutes. Learn more about sore throats and when you should seek medical care.
If you have a large lump on your throat, contact your medical provider right away. It could be an enlarged lymph node, which can be a sign of throat cancer.
3. Allergens can do a number on your nose
That stuffy nose could be something other than a cold coming on. Allergens that lurk in the air, on furniture and in carpets trigger a response from the immune system and often cause a runny nose, sore throat and itchy eyes.
To ease sinus pressure and congestion, try these tips:
- Run a humidifier
- Take a hot shower or breathe in steam from warm water
- Use saline spray or a neti pot
If your nose is severely clogged or won't stop running, visit an Indigo provider. You may have an underlying condition.
4. Smoking is bad for the whole body
When you smoke, you inhale toxic chemicals and substances that can harm your lungs, heart and other organs. And if smoking becomes a habit, it can also damage your ears, nose and throat.
- Smoking is linked to tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and hearing loss.
- Breathing cigarette smoke through your nose can trigger mucus production, which can cause a nonstop runny nose. Smoke can also cause mucus to back up in your nose, which can irritate sinuses and make you more susceptible to illness.
- Throat irritation from smoking can cause coughing and hoarseness, and can lead to throat cancer.
- Smoking can yellow teeth, damage gums and create other oral health issues that can spread to the throat.
If you're interested in quititng smoking, Indigo Online Care providers can help. With a quick e-visit, our providers can prescribe medication or nicotine replacement options to help you become tobacco-free.
5. Sleep can help
If you're fighting something that's causing your throat and nose to be irritated, a good night’s rest will go a long way to boost your immune system and help your body heal.
Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Lack of sleep can have a negative impact on your overall health. If you’re having trouble sleeping, talk with a medical provider.
Indigo is here for you
Don’t ignore ear, nose or throat issues. If something doesn’t seem right, get it checked out. The amazingly friendly providers at Indigo Health are here to help. We’ll assess your symptoms, make treatment recommendations and refer to you to a higher level of care if needed. We’re here every day, 8 am to 8 pm, including holidays.