Andrew Rivera MD

Summer is in full swing, so it pays to know the most common ENT issues going around this season. Tune in to this episode to learn more!

Shelby Stockton (00:00):
Welcome to the South Florida ENT audio blog. I'm Shelby Stockton, and today I spoke with otolaryngologist Dr. Andrew Michael Rivera. We discussed the most common ENT-related issues people are going through and how to manage congestion, allergies, and swimmer's ear. Be sure to stick around until the end when Dr. Rivera gives us some tips for supporting our ENT health.

Dr. Rivera, it's so nice to meet you. Thanks for spending some time with me today.

Dr. Andrew Rivera (00:26):
Thanks for having me.

Shelby Stockton (00:28):
What are some common ENT-related issues people are currently experiencing?

Dr. Andrew Rivera (00:34):
Yeah, so we see a lot of people come in for a variety of things, but currently we see a lot of people suffering from a stuffy nose or nasal congestion that leads to other problems like snoring or sleep apnea. Sometimes that stuffiness or congestion is related to allergies, and those can flare up at any time of the year. We're seeing plenty of that now, and those allergies can cause congestion that leads to infection. So we see people coming in, getting recurrently sick, and we see people developing sinus infections that linger despite appropriate treatment. So while we do see a variety, a lot of nasal problems tend to come in around this time.

Shelby Stockton (01:17):
What are some effective ways to manage sinus congestion and nasal allergies during the summer?

Dr. Andrew Rivera (01:22):
Some of the most effective ways to manage those things would be simply by keeping the nose clean. Most people don't realize that while they routinely brush their teeth, for example, to prevent dental problems, they could do the same for their nose by rinsing their nose using normal saline. So those rinses that you see in the pharmacy, like a neti pot or Arm & Hammer, those are a very good and simple way to clear out the nose of allergens that cause inflammation that can lead to flareups or obstruction that would cause other problems. And on top of that, just avoiding things that might trigger inflammation that people can learn to recognize, avoiding dust, avoiding grass or pollens that might flare up some inflammation. But making it part of a daily routine to clean the nose is the simple, easy first step.

Shelby Stockton (02:17):
Okay. So someone like me who's scared of neti pots, what would you say to us?

Dr. Andrew Rivera (02:23):
Yeah, so say someone's scared of a neti pot. Part of that is because a neti pot, or those squeeze bottles, introduce a lot of fluid. So we hear people saying, "Oh, I'm drowning. I'm choking. It's like I'm waterboarding myself." We get that a lot. Usually what I say to those people is, "Well, there's simpler ways to do it. For example, the Arm & Hammer Simply Saline is a gentle mist that's already premixed and available as a canister, and it doesn't use nearly as much fluid as a neti pot or a squeeze bottle." So all of my neti pot-averse patients, I start them out with that. And when they start to see the benefit of what it's like to have a clean nose, then maybe they'll take it up a notch. But that would be a simple, less voluminous way of handling the problem.

Shelby Stockton (03:11):
Oh my gosh. Thanks so much. That's great advice. So it's summer, a lot of people are out and having a good time. How can people prevent or manage swimmer's ear and other ear infections?

Dr. Andrew Rivera (03:23):
So swimmer's ear gets triggered by too much moisture getting into the ear. We see a lot of that in the summer because people are out, and swimming, and they're in pools and they're in the ocean. The best way to try and prevent swimmer's ear is after being exposed to excess moisture drying the ear. Now, we do not want people to dry their ears using a Q-tip or sticking anything in their ears. We simply recommend you take a towel with an open palm and you dab the outside, jump up and down, try to get moisture out into a towel without shoving anything in.

If someone is prone to getting recurrently infected, sometimes they can also put preventive drops in their ear. Something as simple as white vinegar or rubbing alcohol can create an environment that bacteria and fungus can't survive in. So while moisture would trigger an infection, drops of white vinegar or rubbing alcohol can prevent it. That's more for people who have it happen repeatedly. But for the standard people who just want to be safe, you just dry your ear with a towel with an open palm and don't stick anything in there.

Shelby Stockton (04:35):
Can you offer some tips for supporting our ENT health?

Dr. Andrew Rivera (04:39):
Yeah. So as far as ENT Health, we look at the ears, the nose and the throat. For ear health, the rules are: Don't mess with your ears, don't clean them. Avoid Q-tips. The way to take care of your ear after a shower, you can dry it with a towel with an open palm. Once in a while, if they felt like doing something, they could drop some baby oil in there, which could liquefy ear wax. But we do not want people to use Q-tips or stick anything in their ears because that will lead to worse problems.

For the nose, keep the nose clean like we talked about using normal saline. If you're afraid of a neti pot, Arm & Hammer makes a simple saline mist which is much less cumbersome. For the throat, you're looking at avoiding triggers of inflammation, which are usually dietary. You want to avoid things that have a lot of acidity. You want to avoid stuff that triggers reflux. Gargles with warm salt water for throat discomfort are a reasonable way to get phlegm out without irritating the throat. Those are just kind of the main ways of managing the ear, nose, and throat before getting into more complex treatments that we would recommend.

Shelby Stockton (05:48):
Great. Thanks so much for your time, Dr. Rivera. We really appreciate it.

Dr. Andrew Rivera (05:52):
Thank you.

Learn more about Dr. Rivera

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