Catarrh problems and treatments
The symptom of catarrh is translatable into several different meanings – from blocked nose and sinus pains, to throaty symptoms, tickly cough and post nasal drip, lump in throat sensation, continuous throat clearing and phlegm. The ENT Laser treats all varieties of catarrh. Many are in fact related to sinus/nose conditions and some to gastro-oesophageal reflux disease. One particular form of catarrh that we successfully treat is the irritating continuous clearing of the throat, the feeling of a lump at the back of the tongue, possibly with a tickly, dry cough and other throat symptoms. It is well recorded in medical literature that up to around 20% of the population suffer with this condition, which may also be related to snoring, enlarged tonsils and nose blockage.
Mr. Mike Dilkes provides the most current, optimal testing and treatments for catarrah, based on medical research and consultations with leading experts in the USA and Germany.
Treatment of catarrh
The treatment of catarrh is directed to its cause, from nasal allergy to acid regurgitation from the stomach into the throat. One of the main treatments we perform is called laser vapourisation of the uvula (Laser uvulectomy). This structure is the hanging down object in the back of the throat (see picture, right), which can cause some of the symptoms of catarrh. It is the experience and view of the Clinic surgeons that laser uvulectomy under local anaesthetic can be beneficial in approximately 70% of patients with throat-type catarrh.
Laser treatment of catarrh
Using the flash-scanned Carbon Dioxide laser.
95% of the procedures are performed under local anaesthetic, which is mostly with the simple application of an anaesthetic spray, followed by a single small injection. The procedure takes about 10 minutes. Speech and swallowing are not affected. Recovery on the ward is quick. Patients are usually eating and drinking within 30 minutes of return from the operating theatre. Patients are observed with regular blood pressure and pulse measurement on the ward for up to 1 hour post surgery, until they feel they are able to return home. Driving home is allowed, but not encouraged.
Because a small ulcer is left in the back of the mouth after the operation, there is quite bad pain for around 1 week after this procedure. This pain is well controlled if regular painkillers are used. Typically these are Co-Codamol (30/500) and Diclofenac E/C (50mg). An antiseptic gargle helps the area to heal quickly. Follow-up is usually arranged for 4 weeks after surgery has been performed.
Success rate for laser treatment of catarrh
70% of patients report complete relief or major improvement in their catarrhal symptoms. In some cases, this process is slow as there is often a “phantom limb” effect where habit keeps the throat clearing going for longer than might be expected. 20% have some improvement; 10% have none. Unfortunately, there is no specific test that can be done to determine who will do well with this procedure. It is a case of doing it safely, then see what happens. Since the uvula plays no function of note, it is not missed.