March 11, 2014

Seeing An ENT Specialist.

I had been coughing for some time, so I saw my regular doctor on January 23rd.  Although blood results revealed I "had" walking Pneumonia, the x-rays showed my lungs were clear, indicating the walking Pneumonia was already over.  So, why was I still coughing??

My doctor was pretty frustrated about this, so he recommended I see an ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) specialist, because I had been coughing past the time I should have stopped coughing, so I saw him on February 3rd.

My husband and I had concerns that I may have polyps in my vocal cords again.  I have had them before, which resulted in two vocal cord surgeries, years ago.  Hence, the other reason to see the ENT specialist.

I met the ENT specialist, discuss concerns with him.  He sprays numbing nasal spray in my nose.  Those who know me, know that I absolutely abhor nasal sprays of any kind.  Yes, the kind used for allergies, etc.! Had to work hard to not gag!  Yuck!  Anyway,  after my nose and nasal passages were numb, he gently inserts a nasal scope through the left opening of my nose and down the nasal passages towards my voice box, to see my vocal cords.  The ENT said that my vocal cords were in good shape and looked clear!  Shocking...      He even shows my husband, who was pretty fascinated.   ENT says no vocal cord surgery was needed!  We were relieved!

The ENT gently pulls the nasal scope out and puts in the sink.  He then proceeds to explain that, the reason for my continued coughing, was due to reflux!  I was surprised and exclaimed,"But, but, but... I never have symptoms or rarely have symptoms of reflux!  Maybe heartburn, but reflux, no!"   He smiles and said that it's called Silent Reflux.  Huh...     He also said that as he was guiding the scope down my nasal passage towards my voice box, he could see reflux coming up my esophagus! Wow... I had no idea I was having reflux at the moment.   *eyebrows raised*

He then explains what happened is that the reflux would get to my voice box and inflame the back wall of the voice box between the vocal cords, hence it being a little bit swollen, which was preventing the vocal cords from closing properly. When the vocal cords don't close properly, things get into my lungs, and that causes coughing, even pneumonia.

He continues to explain something else.  He says the purpose of the vocal cords are to: 1.) To close up when I'm chewing/swallowing, 2.) To open up when I'm breathing, and 3.) To talk.   My husband and I exchange surprised looks, because we were taught, growing up, that there was a flap above the vocal cords for the first two purposes mentioned by the ENT! Reckon it's true, that we are never too old to learn anything new!

Armed with this new information, the ENT gives me a piece of paper explaining what needs to be done to heal the inflammation between my vocal cords, so that I could eventually stop coughing:

So.... for the next three months, I cannot have Chocolate (GASP!!!!), Cinnamon (GASP!!!), garlic, onions, carminatives (spearmint, peppermint, etc.), and all types of Caffeine (GASP!!!).  (Later, I did ask if it was OK to have caffeine free beverages such as decaf coffee, decaf tea, caffeine free sodas, and the ENT said it was OK!!   Oh, thank goodness...)  I have to avoid hot spicy foods.  That doesn't mean just Mexican food only.   No... it means any food that has hot spicy stuff in it, such as pepper, paprika, etc. Fortunately, I still can eat milder types of Mexican, Chinese, and Italian food.  W-H-E-W!

I also have to take antiacids (Tums, etc.), OTC medicine such as Zantac, etc. In severe cases,  prescriptions such as Nexium or Prevacid may be necessary.  Avoid all kinds of aspirin, which is not a problem, because I can't take them anyway.

Lose weight if overweight.   Yeah, I'm chubby.  Thanks for telling me! LOL...

I also have to have the bed elevated up about 6 inches, to keep the reflux down when I'm sleeping.  Avoid eating three hours before going to bed.

After 3 months is up, see my regular doctor, as told by my ENT, and work with regular doctor on this issue.  I'm hoping by then, that I can re-introduce those foods back into my life, probably by increasing my antiacids/OTC meds.  Chocolate is from a cocoa bean, which means it's a legume, therefore classified as vegetable, right?  RIGHT?!?!  ;-)

I confess that not having chocolate, cinnamon, and caffeine was hard! What, did you think it was going to be that EASY?!  ;-)     I've had small amounts of those things, but at least I'm trying.  Oy vey...

Losing weight is my biggest problem!  :-P   I have about 50 lbs to lose! U-G-H.......................

That being said, I am SO THANKFUL that I didn't need vocal cord surgery after all!!!  :-D

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