What are the nose and throat used for in breathing?
The nose and throat control the flow of air to the lungs, i.e. the quantity. And not only the quantity but also the quality. Between the nose and the throat the air is going to be heated, cleaned and humidified and it has to reach the lungs in perfect conditions. If the nose and throat are not in good condition, the air does not reach the lungs in good conditions and this will have repercussions in many ways.
What is the importance of breathing well?
It is essential to breathe well. If we do not have a perfect oxygenation in the blood, if we do not have 100% oxygen in the blood, we will have multiple problems, both physically and mentally. For the brain to function, it must have plenty of oxygen, for our lungs and all our vital organs to function, we must have perfect oxygen saturation in the blood. When there are breathing problems, we see patients who undergo polysomnography analysis that oxygen can drop to 50 or 60% and this causes multiple complications.
What are the most frequent causes of obstructions in children?
In children, practically 100% of the cases are due to hypertrophy of the adenoids and tonsils. The adenoids – the carnots as we say in Catalan – obstruct the nose, sometimes up to 90%, and the tonsils when they are very large block the pharynx, they fall backwards, especially during sleep. These children are restless sleepers, they have apneas, they do not breathe well, they wake up at night and then during the day they are restless children, they move around a lot, they are very active, they eat badly, etc. The problem is that children do not know how to express themselves, they do not know how to say it, but the truth is that they have a very bad time when they are in these conditions.
What are the most frequent causes of dysfunctions in adults?
In adults the subject changes a lot. Nose pathology is very frequent, nasal septum deviations, turbinate hypertrophy. The turbinates are sponges that we have in the nose that act as filters that heat and clean the air we breathe and with all the problems of modern life of air conditioners, city pollution, the chemicals we use as colognes, etc., the turbinates dilate a lot and sometimes completely obstruct the nose.
Other problems can be polyps in the nose or allergies. And, a very current topic that has been evaluated a lot lately and that used to be laughed at or joked about is the hypertrophy of the palate, that is, when the palate grows, when the bell grows and falls due to the weight over the years and obstructs the pharynx a lot. In these cases of obstruction of the nose or throat, or sometimes of both areas, very serious breathing problems occur, apneas in people who at night can even have heart problems due to lack of oxygen in the lungs.
What treatments exist for these pathologies?
The treatment consists of unblocking what is obstructed. In children we usually propose to remove the adenoids, vegetations, and currently the tonsils are treated and reduced with laser or radiofrequency, which is a less aggressive technique that scars the tonsils and consequently they are smaller. The solution is guaranteed in 99% of the cases.
In adults, when it is a turbinate issue, we use the same radiofrequency techniques. When it is a matter of palate, uvula, closed tonsils or drooping palate, we also use radiofrequency, with local anesthesia and totally ambulatory. If it is a septum issue, polyposis in the nose or a cyst in the throat, then general anesthesia is used, minimal, of very short duration, endoscopic techniques that are very little aggressive with which this person in 1 or 2 days will return to his normal life. It is very important to solve this problem, because it is progressive. And if we don’t, we will get worse and worse.