Man sneezing from the flu

Maintain Healthy Sinuses

Cold and flu season peaks during the fall and winter months each year. It’s a time when a painful sore throat, heavy congestion and a headache can make it difficult to breathe, sleep or function normally. The result is that many of us stay away from work and family as we try to recuperate from a bout with the flu or a cold.

If you’re suffering from the flu, a cold, allergies or sinusitis, you’re not so worried about the actual reason for your sickness. You just want to get well.

Our Utah ENT doctors at the Ear, Nose and Throat Center in Salt Lake City and Draper, Utah are ready to help and we can diagnose your flu or cold symptoms and help you recover. But there are a number of good habits people can follow that can help keep sinuses clear during cold and flu season. The American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery recommends you follow these five tips to maintain sinus health.

We also recommend you get a flu shot each year.

Read: 5 Reasons to Get a Flu Shot Each Year

1. Drink Lots of Fluids

One of the best ways to stay healthy is to regularly drink fluids. You’ll stay hydrated and fluids can help ensure that your mucus or nasal discharges stays thin. Drinking fluids regularly also helps prevent congestion. The old guideline of 6-8 glasses of water each day can help your sinus health while it strengthens your immune system.

2. Use a Humidifier

A humidifier can help break down congestion by introducing moisture into your environment. Humidifiers are particularly helpful in arid states like Utah where the air is naturally dry and humidity is extremely low. And since most Utah homes are heated using forced-air furnaces that can also irritate your sinuses, you may soon find that using a humidifier in your bedroom each night can help you get more restful sleep (plus, your skin will become less dry–consider that a bonus).

3. Avoid Smoking and Drinking Alcohol

You already know that smoking can quickly irritate the nose of the smoker as well as the people around the smoker. But you may not know that alcohol can cause nasal and sinus membranes to swell, which, in some cases, exposes them to irritation and infection. If you often find yourself congested, stop smoking and drinking alcohol and monitor your health. You may be surprised by how much better you feel.

Read: Ear, Nose and Throat Center Helps Utah Smokers Stop Smoking

4. Avoid Contact with Allergy Triggers

If you suffer from allergies, you need to avoid contact with those items that trigger allergy symptoms like a stuffy nose and a scratchy throat. If you can’t avoid these triggers, use over-the-counter allergy medicines to help control congestion.

Read: 5 Tips to Avoid Allergies in Utah

5. Use Nasal Sprays

Cold and flu season is one of the busiest travel times of the year. If you plan to fly, use a nasal spray decongestant before take-off. The nasal spray will help mucus drain naturally and you’ll avoid blockage of the sinuses.

The Ear, Nose and Throat Center specializes in diagnosing and treating sinus conditions, congestion, flu and cold symptoms. Contact us to set an appointment today.


woman breaking a cigarette

Ear, Nose and Throat Center Helps Utah Smokers Quit Smoking

Smoking is a bad idea. In fact, the use of use of tobacco in nearly every form is bad for your health. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services feels so strongly about dissuading smokers from using tobacco that graphic and almost shocking new anti-tobacco warnings must be prominently displayed on tobacco products. The goal: encourage people to stop smoking or better yet, never start.

According to the American Lung Association in Utah, more than 11 percent of Utah adults smoke and nearly 1,200 Utah residents die from smoking each year. Sadly, many children are harmed through secondhand smoke. In fact, more than 3,000 non-smokers die from lung cancer each year due to exposure to secondhand smoke.

Noting the dire mortality rates and health risks associated with smoking, Dr. John Bennett, an ear, nose and throat doctor in Salt Lake City, states, “Of all the people who continue to use tobacco, one half will die from it. Quitting tobacco is the best thing you can do for your health.”

Tobacco use can lead to nicotine dependence and serious health problems, including head and neck cancer. Quitting today can significantly reduce the risk of suffering from smoking-related diseases and reduce the risk of cancer returning. Tobacco dependence and nicotine addiction is a chronic condition that often requires repeated interventions. Fortunately, effective treatments and helpful resources exist. Utah smokers can and do quit smoking. In fact, today there are more former smokers than current smokers.

Dr. Bennett adds that many smokers consider tobacco a “good friend” of theirs. “But that ‘good friend’ is trying to kill you. The sooner you say goodbye, the better.”

The Ear, Nose and Throat Center of Salt Lake City is ready to help.

7 Facts about Smoking

  1. Nicotine is a highly addictive psychoactive drug in tobacco products. In fact, research suggests that nicotine is as addictive as heroin or cocaine – illegal drugs.
  2. Most smokers are dependent on and addicted to nicotine. Nicotine dependence is the most common form of chemical dependence in the United States.
  3. Quitting smoking is difficult and may require multiple attempts. Users often relapse because of stress, weight gain, and withdrawal symptoms.
  4. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms include irritability, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and increased appetite.
  5. The risk of developing lung cancer is 23 times higher among men who smoke cigarettes and nearly 13 times higher among women who smoke cigarettes compared to people who have never smoked.
  6. Cigarette smoking increases the risk for many types of cancer, including cancers of the lip, oral cavity, pharynx, esophagus, pancreas, larynx (voice box), lung, uterine, cervix, urinary bladder, and kidney.
  7. Rates of cancers related to cigarette smoking vary widely among members of racial/ethnic groups but are highest among African-American men.

Many Paths and Treatments to Quit Smoking

It’s not easy to stop smoking. But it is possible and there are many effective treatments that can help you stop using tobacco today – and forever. For instance, many first-line nicotine replacement therapy products like nicotine patches, gum and lozenges are helpful in cutting back on the amount of tobacco use.

These products are proven to help many smokers wean themselves down to 5 or fewer cigarettes per day. But Utah smokers often have trouble when they try to quit completely. That’s because smoking is both physically and psychologically addictive. It’s not uncommon for people to associate smoking a cigarette with specific activities like drinking coffee, driving the car or having a drink with friends. They simply can’t imagine participating in such activities without smoking a cigarette.

Using Prescription Medications to Stop Smoking

At this point in the process, we often recommend prescription medications like Zyban and Chantix to help smokers completely overcome their addiction. Like all prescription drugs, side effects are possible. The most common are nausea, headache, difficulty sleeping and abnormal dreams. However, more serious side effects can appear and the Food and Drug Administration recommends that patients look for signs of suicidal thoughts, negative changes in behavior, erratic behavior and drowsiness. While these side effects are rare, they can occur. If they do appear, you should notify your health care provider immediately.

Contact the Ear, Nose and Throat Center

The Ear, Nose and Throat Center has helped many of our patients stop smoking. We’re committed to helping you quit smoking, too. Working together, we can succeed. We recommend you read these success stories of Utah residents who quit smoking.

Contact the Ear, Nose and Throat Center at 801-328-2522 to set up an appointment with a Utah ear, nose and throat doctor who can help you stop smoking.