Ear, Nose & Throat
ENT Care in Southwestern Montana
The specialists on medical staff diagnose and manage diseases of the ears,
nose, sinuses, larynx (voice box), mouth, and throat, as well as structures
of the neck and face.
At Bozeman Health Ear, Nose and Throat, conditions treated include:
Respiratory allergies affect approximately 20 percent of the population.
They can contribute to many other disorders of the ears, nose, throat
and respiratory system. Allergies are caused by antigens which react with
our immune systems. Antigens are found on pollens, pet dander, dust, molds
and other substances. The immune system reacts to antigens, causing swelling,
irritation, inflammation and wheezing. If the allergic reaction is severe
enough, life threatening reactions can occur that require immediate medical
attention. Our specialists can test for and treat most allergies.
Most ear infections occur in the middle ear, located behind the eardrum
and when healthy, filled with air. Middle ear infections are very common
in children ages 2-5 years old. Most middle ear infections are treated
with antibiotics, but if infections are frequent or if fluid does not
clear, our physician can place tubes in the ears to help prevent fluid
build-up and resulting infections.
Sinusitis is a leading health care problem, with 20 million cases of bacterial
sinusitis in the U.S. every year. The chronic form, lasting more than
12 weeks, affects more than 31 million individuals. This makes it the
most common chronic health problem in the United States.
The sinus cavities are lined with a mucus membrane covered in tiny hair,
which actively push mucus from the sinuses into the nose through tiny
openings called ostia. The mucus contains antibodies and other infection
fighting substances. Sinusitis is caused by obstruction of the ostia,
which leads to mucus backing up in the sinus. This mucus easily becomes
infected. Other issues causing sinus obstruction include allergies, viral
upper respiratory infections ("the common cold,"), nasal irritants
such as dust and noxious chemicals or physical obstructions such as a
Our ear, nose and throat physician can diagnose sinusitis through several
tests and can treat the infection with medications or, when necessary,
through surgical treatments.
SLEEP APNEA & SNORING
Many people don’t think of snoring as a sign of something potentially
serious, and not everyone who has sleep apnea snores. Be sure to talk
to a doctor if you experience loud snoring, especially snoring that’s
punctuated by periods of silence.
Snoring and sleep apnea are both caused by excess tissue in the throat.
The primary obstructed areas are the soft palate and the base of the tongue.
A long palate vibrating while breathing causes most snoring. Apnea is
when the sleeper stops breathing. Central sleep apnea results when the
brain fails to tell the body to breathe. Obstructive sleep apnea results
from excess soft tissue in the palate, base of tongue, and rarely, the
sides of the throat collapsing in and blocking breathing.
In both types of apnea, oxygen concentration in the blood drops low enough
so the person feels starved for air and wakes up to breathe. These brief
waking episodes may occur hundreds of times a night and are not usually
remembered by the patient. The result is a poor night’s rest and
the possibility of associated health problems such as high blood pressure,
heart attack, and stroke.
Medical treatment is generally recommended as the initial treatment for
all but the most severe cases of sleep apnea. For obstructive sleep apnea,
continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) uses a mask worn at night with
a machine blowing air into it, creating pressure in the airway to support
the tissues and prevent blockage. If CPAP is not effective or if the patient
does not tolerate it, surgery may be considered. Our medical specialist
offers several types of surgery on the soft palate, uvula, tonsil area,
throat and tongue to control or minimize snoring issues.
TONSIL AND ADENOID DISORDERS
The tonsils and adenoids are a part of the immune system, containing large
numbers of white blood cells which fight infections. Tonsils and adenoids
are located in the throat so they can respond to infectious agents entering
the body by priming the immune system. Fortunately, there are additional
systems which can perform this task if the tonsils become chronically
infected or enlarged and need to be removed.
The initial treatment for tonsillitis, or inflammation of the tonsils,
is antibiotics. Tonsils and adenoids can become chronically infected and
thus a source of recurrent infections themselves. They also can become
so enlarged they obstruct normal breathing, swallowing and speech. Enlarged
tonsils and adenoids are the most common cause of obstructive sleep apnea
in children. If the tonsils become chronically infected, a tonsillectomy
usually is recommended. Specialists usually remove the adenoids at the