Ah-choo! The Science of Sneezing

The act of sneezing is something that every person has in common.  Some people do it a little but some people suffer a lot.  Some have quiet baby sneezes while others have wall-rattling full body type sneezes.  So why do we sneeze?  What influences the velocity of a sneeze?  Is there anything to help control the sneeze?
Sneezing is a response to irritation of the lining in the nose.  This triggers a nerve which begins the cycle of a “pre-sneeze” inhale and ends with a forceful release of air that is designed to clear the irritants out of the nasal passages.    This is a protective measure for our bodies since the nose helps to filter the air that we breathe.  There is also another reason this can happen.  Have you ever heard that looking at the sun or a bright light can make you sneeze?  This is very true as well because the nerve that is responsible for sneezing is very close to the nerve of the eye.
Every person is made differently.  This is why everybody’s sneeze is unique.  Personal control does play a small role in it but in general a person’s anatomy is a large influencer of how loud and how forceful a person sneezes.  It is said by some that one sneeze can expel up to 100,000 droplets into the air and the speed of a sneeze can reach in upwards of 100 mph!
Fun Fact:  There is a theory that the origin of “god bless you” originated during the days of the plague as a well wish to protect people because one of the main symptoms of the deadly disease was sneezing.   
If you sneeze a lot it may be related to a variety of things.  Allergies is a very common reason for sneezing and you may need some help to keep these in check.  Illnesses like the common flu or an upper respiratory infection can cause this as well.  There are medications and treatments available to help no matter the cause.

If you are suffering from these fits please contact the experts at West River Ear, Nose & Throat today and let us help you appease your sneeze.

It’s a lovely time of year isn’t it.

It’s a lovely time of year isn’t it. The weather is so very undecided. Is it going to be cold? Maybe mild? Wind? Rain? Snow? Who knows! But this back and forth weather can certainly worsen a problem that most people are already tired of…..runny nose. Now this isn’t your run of the mill runny nose. This is the constant drip, continuous nose wiping, having Kleenex tucked in your sleeve type of runny nose.

Chronic rhinitis as it’s known in the ENT community is caused by many different things. This chronic irritation and inflammation in the nose affects the nerves that tell the nose to produce mucus. While this is not a life threatening issue it can be a quality of life issue. But great news, the providers at West River Ear, Nose & Throat have many options available to help alleviate the chronic drip.

There are an array of medical management options including nasal sprays that can help. There is also an exciting new procedure that uses liquid nitrogen to disrupt the nerve signals that keep the cycle of chronic rhinitis repeating. The procedure itself is done with local anesthetic in the office. While people may notice an increased amount of congestion and mucus at first while the nose is healing, in 2-6 weeks the benefits can be seen and felt.

If you are tired of dealing with the constant drip, drip, sniffle, sniffle call West River Ear, Nose & Throat at (605)791-0602 to schedule a consultation today!

West River ENT is Proud to Support Doctors Without Borders

As the holiday season ends, we’re reminded of all the things we’re thankful for. Not only are we grateful to support our patients with their hearing concerns, but we appreciate the opportunity to help others in need. It’s not just the immediate people around us that can benefit from generosity; you can make a difference in the world no matter where you are.

At West River ENT, we are a proud supporter of a variety of charities and noteworthy causes. This winter, we’ve extended our reach to support Doctors Without Borders. We’re committed to the welfare of others and are grateful that we can encourage this fantastic organization and the important work they’re doing.

Our staff thanks you for the gift you give us daily – being able to help you with your hearing needs. It’s what makes our job truly special.

Season’s greetings!

Silent Night…..yeah right!

Standing over your beautiful child sleeping so peacefully and soundly is one of the happiest moments a parent can experience. And then a sound comes from your child, a sound so loud and window rattling that you do not know if it is from your sleeping angel or a grown man.

Snoring is a common problem and one that is gaining more and more attention as its connection to sleep-disordered breathing becomes more apparent. Sleep disordered breathing is a relative term that can be used to describe snoring and/or sleep apnea. This leads to daytime sleepiness, fatigue, poorer outcomes and behavior in school, bedwetting and many other health related consequences. In children, sleep disordered breathing often is related to large tonsils and/or adenoid tissue that obstruct the airway while they sleep.

So, what can be done to fix the problem? Traditionally a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy was used to remove the enlarged tissue to help fix the breathing issue. It can be an uncomfortable procedure with up to 2-weeks of recovery. An alternative to children with sleep disordered breathing is a procedure called a tonsillotomy.

A tonsillotomy is also known as a “partial tonsillectomy”. In this procedure approximately 90% of the tonsil is removed leaving a small piece of tonsillar tissue. While there is a small chance (about 3-5%) of tonsillar regrowth, there are many advantages such as: faster recovery time, reduced pain, much lower chance of post-operative bleeding, and faster improvements with swallowing and sleep.

As parents we know how important it is to get a good night sleep. We need to realize the impact it has on our children as well. If your child is having sleeping issues or daytime problems it is a good idea to have him or her checked out to see if sleep disordered breathing is playing a role. Call our specialists at (605)791-0602 to schedule a consultation today!

Angry Ears

Angry Ears

Your 3-year-old child wakes up, they look sick.  They are fussy and irritable.  They may have a fever.  They might be holding or pulling at their ears.  You know something is wrong with them but you may not be able to pinpoint exactly what it is.  Maybe an ear infection but how would you know?


What is an ear infection?

An ear infection is known as acute otitis media.  It happens when fluid builds up behind the eardrum. This can be caused by bacteria or viruses and often comes after an upper respiratory infection.    This causes pressure and pain and can also affect hearing.  At times the infection and pressure are so great that the eardrum can rupture causing the fluid to drain out of the ear.  While that can sound scary, it is a very treatable problem and often heals on its own.  Children are more susceptible because their anatomy is smaller and this can prevent adequate drainage from the middle ear and surrounding structures.


How do you diagnose it?

Diagnosis is made by taking a thorough history about your child.  A quick physical exam is done to visualize the eardrum to see if fluid is present.  Sometimes fluid is present but may not be causing issues and can resolve on its own.  This is called an effusion.


How do you treat it?

Treatment maybe necessary if the fluid looks infected.  This is can be done with antibiotics.  If your child gets repeated infections it may be time to consider drainage tubes.  Ear tubes are placed in your child’s eardrum through a quick surgical procedure and allows the fluid that normally accumulates behind the eardrum to flow out through the ear canal.  This can prevent the number of and the severity of ear infections.  A discussion with the provider will determine if your child will benefit from these.


We understand the impact of ear infections on a child’s life. Our providers at West River Ear, Nose & Throat are happy to help, often able to accommodate same day appointments for you and your child’s needs.  Call us today at (605) 791-0602.

Oh My Face!

Tis the season where germs seem to be running rampant wreaking all sorts of havoc.  There is one common complaint that can be attributed to this fact…..the dreaded sinus infection.  Sinusitis is the medical term for this condition and can be defined as inflammation of the sinus cavity or cavities.  This allows the once healthy, air-filled spaces to clog and fill with fluid which makes the perfect breeding ground for bugs.  Why does this happen, how do you know if you have one and what can you do?  Let’s answer those separately.

Why do sinus infections happen?

One of the main culprits is sinus blockage.  Swelling can happen from allergies, polyps (tissue overgrowth), deviated septum (middle cartilage in the nose is crooked), and even from simple exposure to offending pathogens.  Environmental exposures such as smoke can also cause the delicate tissue in the nose to swell causing obstruction.

Do I have one? 

There are many common complaints that surround the diagnosis of sinusitis.  Face pain (especially in the cheeks or between the eyes), nasal drainage and/or congestion, fevers, sour taste in the mouth, feeling very tired and pain in the upper teeth are all the usual suspects.

What do I do? 

It is hard to determine if the sinus infection is caused by a virus or bacteria and whether or not you need antibiotics.  A good rule of thumb is if your symptoms have lasted for at least 10 days OR they worsened after previously getting better, it’s time to be seen by a provider.

If you have recurrent sinus infections or continuous feelings of facial fullness or pressure it would be a good idea to get checked out.  The doctors here at West River Ear, Nose, & throat will work with you to help identify, manage, and treat the cause.  Call to schedule your appointment today!

-JaNell Rubelt, CNP

What did you stick up there?

Picture this…..you are having a nice time coloring with your toddler, watching your little Picasso blossom before your eyes.  Suddenly you realize there is a piece of the red crayon missing.  Where did it go?  You search, you look in your child’s mouth, it is nowhere to be found.  Then you see it….or at least a piece of it.  It is inside their nose, close enough to see it but far enough that you cannot get it.  What now?

Foreign bodies are pretty common with children of all ages.  In fact, out of the entire population that seeks medical help for foreign bodies, children make up almost 95% of nose cases and 85% of ear cases.  The most common age for this to happen is in kids ages 1 to 4.  Foreign bodies need to be handled with a delicate touch and special instruments in order to not cause harm or further trauma to the nose or ear.  It is important that you do not try to retrieve any foreign body that is deep within one of these places.

So what kinds of objects have the doctors at West River Ear, Nose & Throat seen?  Candy, legos, food, beads, rocks, orbeez (!) and bugs…yes, you heard that right, bugs.  If it fits, they stick!  If you think your child may have stuck something up his or her ear or nose, don’t hesitate.  Contact the experts at West River Ear, Nose & Throat (605)791-0602 for a same day appointment.


-JaNell Rubelt, CNP