Category: Blog

Discreet Hearing Aids: Excel ENT’s Hearing Aid Offerings

Three older adults on a red background with hearing aid brands along the bottom.

In the United States, 7.1% of adults wear hearing aids, and while that number may initially sound small, that’s just surveying adults over 45. In fact, it’s estimated that 28.8 million adults in the United States could benefit from hearing aids. So why aren’t more people wearing these helpful hearing solutions? We’d like to make an educated guess—the stigma of using hearing aids.

Luckily, auditory technology has come a long way in the last few years! There are numerous discreet hearing aids on the market that are subtle and high-performing. In this blog, the experts at Excel ENT discuss our top five most discreet hearing aids so that you can stay engaged in life without feeling self-conscious.

What Are the Most Discreet Hearing Aids?

We’re glad you asked! Hearing problems can cause feelings of anxiety and embarrassment, and while there’s nothing to be worried about, the last thing you want is your hearing aid drawing more attention to any auditory problems. At Excel ENT, we understand that you want style AND function, and we’re here to say—our trusted brands have delivered. Keep on reading to learn about the latest hearing aid offerings that are discreet and comfortable while offering top-notch sound.

Genesis AI from Starkey

The latest hearing aid from Starkey doesn’t disappoint! Equipped with an all-new processor that mimics the function of the central auditory system, the Genesis AI is powerful, sleek, and user-friendly. As you may have guessed, the Genesis AI uses the latest AI technology, creating better sound quality and a more natural experience for the user, analyzing sound over 80 million times an hour.

And even though this aid is working hard, it doesn’t compromise battery life, with up to 51 hours from one single charge. Beyond a sleek and stylish fit, the Genesis AI has all the bells and whistles, including a step-count feature, a social engagement tracker, and even a fall detector that can alert loved ones.

Phonak Audéo™ P-RL

Phonak Audéo™ P-RL is an award-winning, discreet hearing aid device created by experts in Zurich, Switzerland. With various features designed for an active lifestyle, you don’t have to sacrifice your next beach day or sweat session with Phonak’s P-RL hearing aid. In fact, this aid can be submerged up to 1.64 feet (50 centimeters) of water, including pools.

This device also tracks other data like your heart rate, steps, and activity levels, empowering you to live a happy, fulfilling life. With eight refined and stylish colors to choose from, the P-RL device offers award-winning sound quality and a myriad of personalized digital opportunities.

Phonak Slim™ by Phonak

The Phonak Slim creates a natural hearing experience for its users, so good you may even forget you’re wearing it! The Phonak Slim boasts a never-before-seen shape designed to naturally sit behind your ear. If you wear glasses, no need to worry. The Phonak Slim offers a sleek aesthetic and sound for everyone.

Designed with Phonak SmartSpeech™ Technology, the Phonak Slim tailors sound to your unique needs, reducing the workload of listening to free up other cognitive resources. This aid comes in four colors, so you never have to compromise your style. Charging fully in just three hours, the Phonak Slim matches your unique lifestyle in its fashion, technology, and functionality.

Pure Charge & Go T AX by Signia

With their state-of-the-art Augmented Xperience, Signia’s Pure Charge & Go T AX offers a hearing experience like never before. Instead of a traditional processor, this discreet hearing aid includes two processors, one for sounds in focus and another for surroundings. And the technology doesn’t stop there. This model allows you to connect with audio loop systems, IOS and Android devices, and landline phones effortlessly.

Are you tired of your own voice sounding artificial in your ears? With Own Voice Processing 2.0, you can hear yourself (and others) more clearly with fluid, crisp auditory processing with the Pure Charge & Go T AX hearing aid. Offering multiple styles, including behind-the-ear and in-the-canal, you’re sure to find a model that’s just right for you.

Styletto AX by Signia

Small but mighty is the Styletto AX by Signia! Featuring their Augmented Xperience technology like the Pure Charge & Go T AX, this discreet hearing aid is sophisticated, elegant, and jam-packed with technology. Coming in 12 colors, you can easily match the Styletto AX to your hair color, glasses, or personality.

Plus, Styletto AX filters conversation and background noise separately to experience natural, high-quality hearing—no matter where you are. With a battery life of 20 hours on a single charge, no echoing, on-the-go charging, and hands-free technology for IOS, the Styletto AX offers exceptional hearing clarity with all the extra details you want.

Feel Confident Each and Every Day with Excel ENT

While it’s exciting to have so many discreet hearing aids to choose from, we understand it can also be overwhelming. At Excel ENT, our team of audiologists can help you find the right hearing aid based on your hearing loss, budget, aesthetics, and so much more. Plus, we offer a 30-day trial on all hearing aids, so you can rest assured your hearing aid will complement your lifestyle.

Want to Learn More About the Best Discreet Hearing Aid? Call Us!

Proudly serving Hoover, Homewood, Vestavia, Mountainbrook, and surrounding neighborhoods, Excel ENT is your ultimate destination for all your hearing needs. If you’re interested in a hearing aid fitting or want to learn more about discreet hearing aids, call us to make an appointment at 205-776-3131 for our Homewood office or 205-988-6858 for our Hoover location.

We’ve Expanded! Check Out Excel ENT in Homewood, AL

Logo in white over a red background with 2 black boxes that name the two locations, Homewood and Hoover.

At Excel ENT, we understand how inconvenient ear, nose, throat, and voice problems can be. Whether it’s holding you back from work or play (or both), if you don’t receive timely, quality care, it can take a real toll on your health. Luckily, Excel ENT is expanding to provide high-quality care for Birmingham residents, so when the unexpected happens, and you’re just not feeling your best, we’re right down the road!

We’re so excited to highlight our new office in Homewood, AL. Located next to Brookwood Medical Center, we’re in a central place for many Birmingham residents so that everyone can experience hassle-free, state-of-the-art care.

Excel ENT in Homewood, AL

If you’ve been to our Hoover office before, you know that we don’t cut corners in anything we do. From our waiting space and compassionate team members to our revolutionary technology and leading diagnostic tools, we’re dedicated to meeting and exceeding your expectations. However, it doesn’t stop there. Our new office in Homewood is modeled just the same—high-quality care you can trust. Let’s take a look at a few of the reasons why we chose to expand our exceptional ENT care to Homewood, AL.


At Excel ENT, we’re dedicated to improving the entire patient experience. Patients that visit our Homewood office can be seen more timely and efficiently as it offers more medical providers and clinic space. We’re easily accessible from Highway 31, I-59, Shades Creek Parkway and Highway 280. Even more, we’re located next to Brookwood Medical Center for convenience.

Exceptional ENT Care

Our exceptional ENT (ear, nose, & throat) care at our Homewood (and Hoover) location encompasses a comprehensive approach to diagnosing and treating various conditions, like chronic sinusitis, hearing loss, and much more. With a steadfast commitment to patient well-being, our team of highly skilled ENT specialists and audiologists strives to provide unparalleled care to every individual. We understand that each patient is unique, which is why we tailor our treatment plans to address specific needs, promoting optimal outcomes and improved quality of life.

In fact, you don’t need a referral from your primary care doctor to see us at either location; just make an appointment by phone or online! If you need in-depth diagnostic testing, like a CT scan or video stroboscopy, we may direct you to our Hoover location, however, space exists in the Homewood office to offer these assessments in the near future.

Passion for Service

We’re so grateful for the opportunity to serve more residents in Magic City! When looking for an additional location, we chose Homewood since it’s centrally located in Birmingham, AL, giving our new and current patients an added layer of convenience. At Excel ENT, we believe that high-quality ENT, audiology, and voice & throat care should be accessible to everyone. We hope that with this second location, we can do just that.

Premier Care When You Need It Most

Our mission is to deliver exceptional ENT care, fostering lasting relationships with our patients based on trust, empathy, and excellence in medical practice. Whether you’re stopping by for a hearing test or having trouble breathing through your nose, we are ready to help you get back to feeling your best.

Our office hours are the same at both locations: Monday-Thursday: 8 AM-5 PM & Friday: 8 AM-12 PM, so you can receive top-notch care whenever it’s easiest for you. Come see us after you drop the kids off at school, on your lunch break, in the afternoon, or anytime between!

Need to Schedule an Appointment? Call Us Today!

Proudly serving Birmingham and Hoover, AL residents, we’d be honored to serve you. From pesky sinus issues to hearing loss, we’re equipped to offer superior diagnosis and treatment for numerous conditions. For Homewood appointments, call us at 205-776-3131; for Hoover appointments, reach out to us at 205-988-6858. Or, schedule an appointment online. We look forward to seeing you!

5 Surprising Benefits of Diaphragmatic Breathing

A woman outside breathing deeply with her hand over her chest.

Your voice and breathing are very closely connected. In fact, if you have any voice or reflux issues, your breathing may be to blame. Your breath is fuel for your voice and makes vocalization possible. If you’re relying primarily on your throat muscles to speak, you may experience trouble with your voice. 

Diaphragmatic breathing is an important part of voice rehabilitation. Using your diaphragm may help you power through a long day of talking, or prevent damage while projecting your voice. And, as you may have guessed, diaphragmatic breathing can reduce anxiety, improve oxygenation, and lower your heart rate too. There is even evidence that it can help with acid reflux! Keep on reading to learn about the many benefits of diaphragm breathing from the experts at Excel ENT.

What Is the Diaphragm? 

Diaphragmatic breathing is a technique to engage your diaphragm, so your lungs can operate at peak efficiency. But before we elaborate on diaphragm breathing, let’s pause to discuss what the diaphragm does. 

The diaphragm is located below the lungs and the heart and above the abdominal cavity, which houses your stomach and intestines. It’s an important muscle that separates these two cavities and helps you breathe properly. As you inhale and exhale, the diaphragm contracts and relaxes to get air in and out of your lungs. 

What Is Diaphragmatic Breathing?

Diaphragmatic breathing is the practice of consciously engaging your diaphragm while breathing. During our everyday lives, especially when we’re stressed, we can begin to take shallow breaths, which can cause a host of problems like fatigue, respiratory issues, and more. But, when you breathe deeply and engage your diaphragm, your lungs can reach 100% capacity and calm the nervous system, increasing feelings of relaxation and calmness. 

What Are the Benefits of Diaphragmatic Breathing?

Diaphragmatic breathing, also called belly breathing, benefits your mind and body. From improving your mental well-being and stress response to reducing acid reflux and pesky coughs, it’s practically an all-in-one solution. Additionally, if you suffer from panic attacks, asthma, or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), diaphragmatic breathing may help alleviate some symptoms. 

Some benefits of diaphragmatic breathing include: 

  • Reduced stress & anxiety
  • Increased oxygenation
  • Improved voice, cough, reflex, & digestion issues
  • Lessened blood pressure
  • Lowered heart rate

How Do I Perform Diaphragmatic Breathing?

Now that we’ve covered all the advantages of diaphragmatic breathing, the real fun begins! Let’s discuss implementing this into your daily routine to experience all the benefits. 

Diaphragmatic Breathing Steps

  1. Sit up or lie down with your knees bent slightly. If you’re lying down, you can use a pillow to support your head and knees. 
  2. Place one hand on your abdomen, just below your rib cage, and another on your upper chest. 
  3. As you inhale, breathe through your nose, letting the air in towards your lower belly. Try to keep the hand on your chest as still as possible, focusing on breathing with your stomach. If you’re sitting upright, be sure to straighten your posture to give your abdomen room to expand.
  4. When you exhale, tighten your stomach muscles and breathe out through your mouth. Your stomach should return to its original position as you keep the hand on your upper chest still. 

It’s common for diaphragmatic breathing to feel odd or unnatural, but as you practice, it will become easier.

How Often Should I Practice Diaphragmatic Breathing?

We recommend practicing several times daily, anywhere from five to ten minutes—whatever feels right for you. Don’t get discouraged if you feel like you aren’t doing it right or it feels hard. The more you practice, the easier it will become. 

And the great thing about diaphragm breathing is that you can practice anywhere and anytime! Whether you’re at work, in the car, on the couch, or out with friends, the opportunities to improve your breathing are endless. 

Breathe Easier with Diaphragmatic Breathing

With these tips, you can tackle your challenges with a new sense of control! After some practice, you’ll be on your way to breathing easier while reducing stress and improving oxygenation. If you have any concerns about your voice or throat, our SLP, Amy Pittman, is an expert in voice and throat conditions, and can help you get back to feeling your best. 

Want to Learn More About Proper Breathing Techniques? Call Us Today!

Proudly serving Birmingham, AL, and surrounding areas, we’re Birmingham’s premier ENT. Our team of experts is here to help you with all your sinus, nasal, voice, and throat issues. Call us at (205) 988-6858 or contact us online!

Why Do My Ears Feel Clogged? Top 5 Causes

A woman in a white shirt putting a finger into her ear, representing clogged ears.

Why Do My Ears Feel Clogged? Top 5 Causes

If your ears feel clogged, stuffy, congested, or any other sensation of pressure, we understand it can be quite a nuisance. You may experience troubled hearing, crackling noises, and even discomfort. If you’re looking to diagnose and treat your pesky ear congestion, you’re in luck!

The team at Excel ENT breaks down the top seven causes of ear stuffiness and what you can do to find relief. Fortunately, no matter the cause of your ear congestion, a home remedy or doctor-prescribed medication can likely help. Keep on reading to find out what’s causing clogged ears and what treatment is right for you!

Eustachian Tube Dysfunction

The eustachian tubes connect the ear to the throat and, when working correctly, drain fluid and mucus from the back of the ear to the throat, where it’s swallowed naturally. But, if the tube is swollen or damaged, fluid can build up in the tube. This build-up can be caused by numerous culprits like the common cold, flu, allergies, respiratory infections, and sinusitis, leading to feelings of pressure and stuffiness.

If you’re just getting over an illness, eustachian tube dysfunction may be to blame for your ear congestion. We recommend over-the-counter decongestants and antihistamines to treat this odd sensation. If your symptoms persist, you may need antibiotics or ventilation tubes, so don’t hesitate to visit your local ENT for treatment.

Middle Ear Infection

Ear infections, called otitis media, are characterized by fluid or infection in the middle ear. Ear infections can be uncomfortable and cause fever, ear drainage, trouble sleeping, and other unwanted symptoms. As we mentioned above, ear infections can cause eustachian tube dysfunction, which can cause feelings of pressure too.

If symptoms are mild, at-home remedies and OTC medications may be sufficient. But, if symptoms persist for more than two days, you should seek medical care. An experienced ENT can diagnose any problems and offer treatments like ear drops or antibiotics.

Earwax Buildup

Earwax can quickly build up inside your ears and lead to clogged and stuffy ears. If your ears are full of earwax, you may experience pain, feeling of fullness, hearing loss, and even infection. While cleaning your ears with a Q-tip may seem tempting, Q-tips can push the earwax deeper into your ear, which can cause serious problems and leave clogged ears as the least of your worries.

Instead, we recommend flushing your ears. You may be able to do this at home with steam therapy, but to ensure the job is done right, we advise you to visit a local ENT who can safely and effectively remove your pesky earwax.

Hearing Loss

Sometimes, hearing loss can feel as though your ears are clogged. While the sensation may feel different for everyone, stuffy, clogged ears may indicate the outer and middle parts of your ear cannot carry sounds into your inner ear, which is where the magic of hearing happens. You may feel this sensation in one or both of your ears, but it usually occurs suddenly and worsens over time.

If you’re experiencing clogged ears seemingly without cause, you should seek medical treatment. You may be experiencing age-induced or noise-related hearing loss, or there may be a more severe problem behind your ear congestion. Luckily, a trusted audiologist can diagnose, treat, and help you manage hearing loss.


Persistent ringing, buzzing, clicking, or hissing noises in the ear is called tinnitus. This condition usually develops because of damage to the microscopic nerve ending in the inner ear. However, ear infections, allergies, head or neck injuries, muscle spasms in the inner ear, and certain medications can contribute to the odd sounds too. Tinnitus caused by ear infections and muscle spasms specifically can cause sensations of fullness and congestion in the ears.

Depending on the cause of your tinnitus, there may or may not be a treatment. While you and your ENT work to find a specific reason, we recommend avoiding exposure to loud noises, excessive amounts of caffeine, and lowering your sodium intake. These tips may be able to lessen the severity of your tinnitus.

Find Relief from Clogged Ears Fast

At Excel ENT, we’re here to help you find the cause of your congested ears. We understand it can be annoying to deal with daily, and we don’t hesitate to exhaust all possible solutions so you can find relief. Depending on the cause of your ear congestion, we offer numerous treatments like medications, ear flushing, ear drops, and more. With years of experience, we can help you get back to normal quickly!

Your Ear & Hearing Experts: Excel ENT

Proudly serving the Birmingham metro area, our team can evaluate, diagnose, and treat various ear, nose, and throat ailments. Call us at 205-386-6453 or contact us online to live to find relief from clogged ears!

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The Benefits of Balloon Sinuplasty for Chronic Sinusitis

A black and white photo of a woman with sinus pain holding a tissue and red lights lighting up the inflammation.

Benefits of Balloon Sinuplasty for Chronic Sinusitis

Over 31 million people suffer from sinus problems and look to over-the-counter medications and antibiotics to relieve pressure, pain, and inflammation. For some, these remedies may be helpful, but for others, symptoms may persist.

If you’re among the latter and experience chronic sinus pain with no relief, Excel ENT can help. Our state-of-the-art balloon sinuplasty treatment is minimally invasive, quick, and effective. Learn everything you need to know about this life-changing procedure, including benefits, who’s a candidate, and more from the experts at Excel ENT.

What Is Balloon Sinuplasty?

If you’re suffering from chronic sinusitis, your sinus passage has most likely become inflamed and swollen, which leads to a narrowing of the passage. Your sinuses can’t drain correctly, so you begin to experience bothersome sinus symptoms.

Balloon sinuplasty is an innovative treatment to reduce symptoms of sinusitis like sinus pain, headaches, runny nose, and more. This procedure is done on an outpatient basis and is FDA-approved to restore proper sinus drainage.

How Does Balloon Sinuplasty Work?

During balloon sinuplasty, an Excel ENT expert inserts a catheter into the sinus cavity. With this catheter, a small balloon is inflated to expand the sinus passage. Then, the balloon is carefully deflated and removed. You should experience immediate relief from better airflow and an enlarged sinus passageway.

Balloon sinuplasty is quick and convenient, and many patients return to normal activities within 24 to 48 hours. We recommend avoiding strenuous activities a few days after treatment, like running and weight lifting. However, everyone’s recovery is different, and before your balloon sinuplasty, your ENT will discuss your downtime in-depth.

What Are the Benefits of Balloon Sinuplasty?

Studies show that 92% of patients had normally-functioning sinus passageways from their first review one week postoperatively and beyond. In fact, there are numerous benefits of balloon sinuplasty beyond the alleviation of your symptoms. Some other advantages include:

  • Minimally invasive
  • FDA-approved
  • Minimal bleeding
  • Little downtime, especially compared to traditional sinus surgery

Are You a Candidate for Balloon Sinuplasty?

If your sinus problems are resistant to OTC medications, antibiotics, and other forms of treatment, you’re most likely a candidate for balloon sinuplasty. You’ll usually receive a referral from your primary care doctor once they notice recurring and resistant sinus headaches, pressure, pain, and other symptoms of chronic sinusitis.

At Excel ENT, we will perform a CT scan to diagnose the cause of your chronic sinusitis. With this scan, we can examine your sinuses and determine the cause of chronic sinusitis. If your anatomy and symptoms would be improved with balloon sinuplasty, we will discuss the procedure in-depth with you and answer any questions.

Relieve Sinus Pressure Fast with Excel ENT

If you experience chronic sinusitis symptoms like sinus pressure, runny nose, post-nasal drip, and more—we want to help you find the relief you deserve! It can be challenging to navigate everyday life when you don’t feel your best, and our team at Excel ENT is dedicated to helping you get back to feeling your best with our balloon sinuplasty treatment.

We can curate a personalized, evidence-based treatment plan so you can find relief from your pesky sinus problems. If you think you may be a candidate, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team!

Your Sinus Experts: Excel ENT in Hoover & Homewood

Proudly serving Birmingham, AL, and surrounding areas, we’re your sinus experts. We offer numerous treatments for chronic sinus pain, including balloon sinuplasty. Call us at (205) 988-6858 or contact us online to schedule a consultation online today!

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What Is Chronic Rhinitis: Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment

A blonde woman blowing her nose with the sunlight shining in the background.

What Is Chronic Rhinitis: Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment

It’s estimated that over 45 million people suffer from some form of rhinitis. Evidence suggests these numbers will continue to rise, and while it’s extremely common, many people find that rhinitis sticks around a bit too long. The symptoms of rhinitis, like a persistent runny nose, nasal congestion, and sinus pressure, can be debilitating and can quickly affect your daily activities.

If you suffer from a chronic runny nose, our team at Excel ENT can help. We offer numerous treatments for chronic rhinitis, like RhinAer®, which has helped countless people find relief from their runny noses. Learn more about RhinAer and how you can eliminate your head cold for good!

What Is Chronic Rhinitis?

Chronic rhinitis is an inflammation of the nasal passage that lasts longer than four weeks. There are two types of rhinitis, allergic and non-allergic rhinitis. 

As its name suggests, allergic rhinitis occurs because of a certain allergy, such as seasonal pollens, indoor pollutants, and other common allergens. Allergic rhinitis only occurs when you’re exposed to the allergen, whereas non-allergic rhinitis doesn’t involve an immune response and occurs often, and with no specific cause. 

What Are the Symptoms of Chronic Rhinitis?

Allergic arthritis symptoms are typically a runny nose, dry eyes, and sneezing. Comparatively, non-allergic rhinitis presents itself with cold-like symptoms, like a runny nose and post-nasal drip. 

When rhinitis becomes chronic, the most common symptoms include: 

  • Congestion
  • Sinus pressure
  • Post-nasal-drip
  • Constant runny nose

Chronic rhinitis can occur for various reasons, such as nasal obstructions, sinus infections, hormonal changes, stress, and more. Most people who develop chronic rhinitis suffer from non-allergic rhinitis since the cause and triggers are much harder to pinpoint than allergic rhinitis. 

How Do You Treat Chronic Rhinitis?  

With allergic rhinitis, you can typically treat your symptoms with allergy shots and allergy-specific medication. But, non-allergic rhinitis can be tricky to diagnose, treat, and manage. 

If your rhinitis symptoms have lasted longer than four weeks, you may have chronic rhinitis. At Excel ENT, we understand it can be mentally and physically exhausting to suffer from cold-like symptoms for days on end. If traditional allergy sprays, medications, and other remedies haven’t provided relief, RhinAer® may be for you!

How Does RhinAer® Work?

RhinAer is a fast, effective, and safe treatment for chronic rhinitis. RhinAer works by targeting the posterior nasal nerve (PNN), which is responsible for triggering your rhinitis symptoms. During the procedure, a small tube is inserted into your nasal passageway by your ENT. Once inserted, the tube delivers low-temperature radiofrequency energy to disturb the PNN nerves while keeping the surrounding tissue perfectly intact. 

RhinAer can be done in-office, and most patients experience little to no discomfort. You can return to normal activities same-day with a long-lasting solution for your pesky runny nose. With RhinAer, you can find much-needed relief without incisions, cuts, or invasive procedures!

Find Relief Without Invasive Methods at Excel ENT

If your runny nose doesn’t let up after nasal sprays or antihistamines, RhinAer may be right for you! Our team of experts at Excel ENT can help you find the cause of your runny nose and provide a treatment that is effective and long-lasting. When you choose Excel ENT, you’ll experience personalized care, convenient appointment times, and a friendly staff dedicated to your overall health and well-being. Contact us to learn more about chronic rhinitis treatment!

Your Trusted Ear, Nose, & Throat Experts in Birmingham, AL

Are you suffering from a persistent runny nose? Don’t suffer any longer! Reach out to our team at Excel ENT to schedule an appointment so that we can diagnose, treat, and manage your runny nose. Call us at (205) 988-6858 or contact us online to find the relief you deserve!

OTC Hearing Aids: All You Need to Know

A young woman during an ear check-up with an audiologist with an otoscope in her ear

Want To Know All About OTC Hearing Aids?

After the implementation of bipartisan legislation passed by Congress in October of 2022, OTC (over-the-counter) hearing aids became available in retail stores and drugstores across America.

As people began noticing this new hearing device in their local market, questions quickly arose about OTC hearing aids and how well they work compared to medically prescribed hearing devices. 

The team of audiologists at Excel ENT is here to answer your frequently asked questions so you can be better informed about your hearing options. Understand what OTC hearing aids are, why you may or may not be a good candidate and more. Keep on reading to learn all about the latest buzz in audiology. 

What Are OTC Hearing Aids?

The FDA developed OTC hearing aids for adults with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss. You don’t have to see an audiologist for any testing or need a prescription to get an OTC hearing aid. OTC hearing aids aren’t very customizable compared to prescription hearing aids, but some options have a self-fit feature to try to make your fit as personalized as possible. 

OTC hearing aids are less expensive than prescription hearing aids, but the investment of a personalized hearing solution is well worth the extra money. Additionally, you may end up spending money after purchasing your OTC hearing aid on other models if your initial purchase didn’t fit quite right. At Excel ENT, we can walk you through a full breakdown of the costs associated with a prescription hearing aid, and provide support as you navigate the financial details. 

How Do OTC Hearing Aids Work? 

While OTC hearing aids function similarly to prescription hearing aids, they are somewhat limited in reducing background noise along with other features. The most notable difference between OTC hearing aids and prescription hearing aids is OTC’s lack of customization and computer processing. Your audiologist can program prescription hearing aids to fit your individual needs. Additionally, it’s difficult to understand your own hearing needs without proper testing, and without an expert’s opinion, you may choose a hearing aid that won’t improve your hearing.

Overtime, your hearing can change along with your medical needs, and without an audiologist to help you program your hearing aid along the way—you may continue to face hearing challenges. At Excel ENT, we understand it takes time to program your hearing aid just right, and strive to provide you with an effective solution each time you visit our office. 

Does Insurance Cover My OTC Hearing Aids?

Insurance does not currently cover any type of hearing aid investment. Some Medicaid plans and other third parties may cover the cost of your hearing aids, but coverage varies from state to state. We recommend researching more information about your insurance plan or speaking with your employer about current insurance coverages. 

Though most insurance companies don’t cover the overall cost of a hearing aid, they do cover the costs of your hearing test. So, if you come to an audiologist, like Excel ENT, you can file a claim with your insurance company for coverage. During our evaluation, your provider will ask you to listen to multiple sounds at varying frequencies and perform other tests. You’ll then receive a hearing recommendation based solely on your needs. 

Please note if you decide to purchase an aid, your Exel ENT includes your hearing test in the final cost of your hearing aid solution. 

Can Children Use OTC Hearing Aids?

The FDA doesn’t approve OTC hearing aids for children. Children have specific needs for hearing aids that a certified audiologist must meet that OTC hearing aids cannot. As children grow, their ear size and hearing needs change drastically. Additionally, children require frequent check-ins to ensure developmental and auditory milestones are met. 

At Excel ENT, we can help your child if they struggle with their hearing. We understand that finding a hearing solution for your child is delicate and requires a compassionate, detail-oriented approach. We can fit your child with a customizable hearing aid, provide solutions for chronic ear infections, and much more at Excel ENT.

Do You Recommend OTC Hearing Aids?

At Excel ENT, we don’t recommend OTC hearing aids. However, if you’re experiencing very mild hearing loss and may not need hearing aids yet, OTC hearing aids could be helpful. We always suggest seeing an audiologist for a full hearing test and aid recommendation rather than using over-the-counter aids. OTC, compared to prescription hearing aids, can be the difference between muffled sounds and being able to hear something clearly for the first time in a long time. 

Improve Your Quality of Life with Prescription Hearing Aids

At Excel ENT, we understand it can be frustrating if you’re suffering from hearing challenges. Daily life can quickly become a challenge when we can’t hear our loved ones, the server at the restaurant, or the TV. With our customized hearing solutions and prescription hearing aids, we can help you improve your quality of life. You’ll find a personalized hearing aid to meet your needs and a support team with you every step of the way. Call us at (205) 651-8764 or online to schedule an appointment today!

Your Trusted Audiologists in Birmingham, AL: Excel ENT

Proudly serving Birmingham, AL, and surrounding communities, we’re dedicated to your overall satisfaction. With years of experience, our audiologists are ready and equipped to improve your hearing loss, Tinnitus, Eustachian tube dysfunction, ear infection (otitis media), and other ear ailments. Don’t hesitate to call us today!

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Why Do I Have So Much Sinus Pressure & Post-Nasal Drainage?

A woman in an olive green shirt holding her throat in pain while looking at a female doctor with blonde hair in a lab coat.

Do You Have Sinus Pressure & Post-Nasal Drainage?

We all know the dreaded feeling. When you sense unwanted mucus building up in your throat, causing odd tickling sensations, frequent swallowing, and coughing. These symptoms are tell-tale signs of post-nasal drip, which can quickly become frustrating and bothersome. Often, people that experience post-nasal drip have a hard time putting their finger on the cause of this pesky ailment.

Luckily, the team at Excel ENT is experienced in treating cases of post-nasal drip, along with conditions that cause it, such as sinusitis. If you’re wondering why you can’t get rid of the thick mucus in the back of your throat, search no more! We’re breaking down all you need to know about post-nasal drip and how to find relief.

What Is a Post-Nasal Drip?

In your nose and sinuses, mucus filters out harmful particles that you breathe, like dust or allergens. In addition to being the first line of defense, it also keeps tissues moist and protects the linings of important passageways. While mucus production is normal, you shouldn’t be noticing it. But sometimes, an abnormal production of mucus can end up in your throat. If you’re experiencing a build-up of mucus in the back of your throat, you may have post-nasal drip.

Beyond mucus build-up, there are a few more symptoms of this cumbersome ailment. These symptoms include:

  • Frequent swallowing
  • Gurgling or hoarseness
  • Bad breath
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Unpleasant sensations in your throat, like tickling or like something is stuck

What Causes Post-Nasal Drip?

While every case of post-nasal drainage is a little different, there are some frequent causes. The common culprits we see at Excel ENT include:

  • Sinus infections (Sinusitis)
  • Cold
  • Flu
  • Allergies
  • Certain medications
  • Environmental irritants, such as smoke or chemicals
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

Perhaps the most common cause of post-nasal drip is a sinus infection. During a sinus infection, the sinus cavities become swollen. Since the mucus can’t drain properly, mucus and pressure build-up. With nowhere to go, the mucus becomes stagnant, and bacteria quickly infects the sinuses and surrounding areas. The disruption of the mucus drainage can sometimes cause post-nasal drip or be an uninvited companion of it.

What Are Treatment Options for Post-Nasal Drip & Sinusitis?

If your symptoms of post-nasal drip or sinusitis have lasted longer than 10 days, or you’re running a fever, we recommend you seek medical care. It can be tempting to continue taking over-the-counter medication or just hope it goes away, but you can significantly improve your quality of life with treatment. If your sinus symptoms have lasted longer than 3 months, you may have chronic sinusitis and should speak with a sinus specialist sooner rather than later.

Various treatment options include prescribed medications, irrigation, and nasal sprays. Every case is different, and you may be recommended other remedies, like surgery, if you’re not responding to other treatments.

Find the Relief You Deserve

At Excel ENT, we’re the nose and throat experts you need. With years of experience, we treat cases of post-nasal drip and chronic sinusitis frequently and can help you find the relief you deserve. We offer innovative treatments to relieve sinus pressure, including balloon sinuplasty and other sinus surgeries. Or, if you’re suffering from post-nasal drainage alone, our team of experts can help you find a remedy with our in-depth evaluations, diagnostics, and treatment options. Don’t wait to get back to 100%! Contact the Excel ENT team today!

Excel ENT: Your Trusted Sinus & Throat Experts in Birmingham, AL

Proudly serving the Birmingham metro area, our team can evaluate, diagnose, and treat a variety of ear, nose, and throat ailments. Call us at 205-386-6453 or contact us online to live a happier, healthier life!


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Asthma Treatment Not Working? You May Have a Vocal Cord Disorder

A man in a brown sweater using an asthma inhaler.

Do You Have A Vocal Cord Disorder?

If you’ve been diagnosed with asthma, you likely received treatments like long-term medications and fast-acting inhalers. And while these treatments are designed to help you breathe easier, they sometimes don’t provide the results they should. Asthma can be scary and frustrating, especially if your symptoms aren’t alleviated with prescribed remedies.

You may have a vocal cord disorder if you haven’t found relief from your asthma treatments. Paradoxical vocal fold motion disorder (PVFMD) is very common but isn’t well known. It causes difficulty breathing, like asthma, but affects the vocal cords instead of the lungs. Because symptoms are similar, receiving an accurate diagnosis can be challenging. In this blog, the experts at Excel ENT discuss signs, symptoms, and treatment for PVFMD, so you can find the relief you deserve.

What Is Paradoxical Vocal Fold Motion Disorder?

Paradoxical vocal fold motion disorder (PVFMD) is a condition that affects the vocal folds. The vocal folds are located in the larynx, also called the voice box. These folds open and close depending on whether you’re breathing or talking. When you’re talking, the vocal folds close together to produce sounds.

On the other hand, during breathing, the vocal folds stay open to allow air to pass through the airway. In cases of PVFMD, the vocal folds close during breathing. Since air can’t pass through like usual, patients with PVFMD feel a sensation of troubled breathing and suffocation.

What Causes Paradoxical Vocal Fold Motion Disorder?

Unfortunately, the causes of PVFMD are mainly unknown. However, some known stressors can cause episodes of PVFMD, including exposure to strong odors, stress, lying flat, temperature changes, and exercise.

Acid reflux and stress may also be associated with PVFMD. If acid travels far enough into the airway, it can irritate the vocal cords, which may cause them not to function correctly. Similarly, stress can cause the larynx to tighten, leading to issues with the vocal folds. In the field of speech-language pathology, research is ongoing to understand more about PVFMD.

What Are Symptoms of Paradoxical Vocal Fold Motion Disorder?

People with PVFMD can experience symptoms in a range of severity, and episodes can last from minutes to hours. Along with troubled breathing, some patients experience the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing in
  • A sensation of a constricted throat, as if breathing through a straw
  • Coughing
  • Noisy breathing
  • Lightheadedness
  • Rough sounding voice
  • Noisy inhale (stridor)

Often, many people are diagnosed with asthma when they are actually experiencing PVFMD. Asthma causes the airway to narrow and tighten because of extra mucus, and there is typically inflammation at the bottom of the airway. Because both conditions focus on difficulty breathing, it can be difficult to acquire an accurate diagnosis.

Asthma patients will find relief with asthma-specific therapy, like inhalers, whereas PVFMD patients will not because the symptoms and causes are different. For example, many patients with PVFMD feel discomfort and tightening in their neck, throat, and upper chest, while asthma patients usually only feel tightness in their chest. One method of differentiation is that those with asthma often wheeze while breathing out, compared to those with PVFMD, who often exhibit a noisy inhale.

How Do You Treat Paradoxical Vocal Fold Motion Disorder?

To diagnose PVFMD, other conditions must be ruled out. A laryngoscopy to examine the vocal folds will rule out other possible causes of airway obstruction. Similarly, how you describe your symptoms will also help your physician with diagnosis.

If you are diagnosed with PVFMD, there are treatments to ease your symptoms. If your PVFMD is associated with acid reflux, you can take medication for your acid reflux, which can alleviate your symptoms of troubled breathing. A speech-language pathologist (SLP) can teach proper breathing techniques to open your airway during episodes of PVFMD. These techniques are called respiratory retraining and are tailored to your specific triggers for ample relief.

Find Relief from Troubled Breathing

If you’ve spoken with a physician about your breathing condition and haven’t found a remedy, we understand that seeking care from another provider can be difficult and frustrating. But, if you or your loved one’s asthma treatments aren’t working, don’t wait to find relief. Our speech-language pathologist at Excel ENT works frequently with patients suffering from PVFMD and can help you find a solution that’s right for you.

Your Trusted Voice & Throat Specialists in Birmingham, AL

You can find an accurate diagnosis and treatment at Excel ENT. With years of experience, our SLP, Amy Pittman, can provide remedies that improve your breathing and quality of life. If you’d like to learn more about PVFMD or want to schedule an appointment, call us at (205) 988-6858 or contact us online and breathe easier!

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Breathe Easier This Holiday Season with VivAer®

A woman standing by a Christmas tree with decorations tired, rubbing her nose and eyes, feeling nasal obstruction.

Breathe Easier With VivAer®

The holidays are full of joyful occasions like office parties, family get-togethers, and even cozy moments at home. The last thing you want is difficulty breathing, headaches, and fatigue while celebrating the most wonderful time of the year. We understand how challenging it can be to enjoy the festivities when you don’t feel your best.

If you suffer from difficulty breathing through your nose, fatigue, and headaches, you may have chronic nasal obstruction. Thankfully, VivAer® Nasal Airway remodeling is an innovative, non-invasive treatment designed to improve all your symptoms. In this blog, the team of experts at Excel ENT discusses all you need to know about VivAer® treatment and how it can help you.

What Are the Symptoms of Nasal Obstruction?

Nasal obstruction is caused by the enlargement, or swelling, of certain structures in the nose, like the septum, lateral wall, or turbinates. As these structures swell, the airway size becomes smaller, causing difficulty breathing. If you frequently have trouble breathing through your nose, you may have chronic nasal obstruction.

Some of the common symptoms of nasal obstruction include:

  • Trouble breathing through your nose
  • A sensation of something blocking your nasal passage
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Inability to breathe through your nose during exercise
  • Loud snoring
  • Facial pain or pressure
  • Headaches

If you are experiencing these symptoms, we recommend you contact your primary care doctor. Your primary physician can refer you to an otolaryngologist, also known as an ear, throat, and nose doctor (ENT), who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of nasal obstruction.

How Can VivAer® Help Nasal Obstruction?

The VivAer® Nasal Airway remodeling procedure is an innovative technology that expands nasal passages. This non-invasive, safe treatment can significantly improve your quality of life and allow you to breathe easier.

After numbing the inside of your nose with a local anesthetic, your doctor will insert a small wand into the nasal passage. The low-temperature radiofrequency energy (RF) on the wand’s tip gently expands and remodels damaged or shrunken tissues and valves. With this procedure, doctors can also shrink turbinates, soft bony structures that often swell during cases of nasal allergies. Just a slight increase in surface area with the help of VivAer® can create significant relief and improve airflow for those suffering from chronic nasal obstruction.

What Are the Benefits of VivAer® for Nasal Obstruction?

There are a variety of benefits of the VivAer® procedure, including:

  • Non-invasive procedure: VivAer® involves no cutting and doesn’t damage any surrounding areas.
  • Comfortable treatment: Most people feel minimal to zero discomfort. Some describe a feeling of pressure if anything.
  • Clinically Proven: Over a 2-year clinical study, 97% of patients experienced vast improvements in nasal breathing.
  • No downtime: This treatment is quick and painless, and most people return to regular activities the same day.
  • The outer appearance isn’t affected: As opposed to other nasal surgeries, VivAer® doesn’t alter the appearance of your nose in any way.

Who Is a Candidate for VivAer®?

If you suffer from chronic nasal obstruction, you are most likely a candidate for the VivAer® procedure. Candidates typically have found treatments like medications and nasal dilator strips to be ineffective. Your provider may suggest the Nasal Obstruction Symptom Evaluation (NOSE) test and the Cottle Maneuver test to confirm a diagnosis.

The Cottle Mannuever is a test you can do at home and involves placing two fingertips on your cheek next to each side of your nose, then gently pressing and pulling outward. If you find relief from your nasal passage expanding, VivAer® is likely an excellent treatment option. Depending on your specific condition, there may be other criteria, but your ENT can provide more information about whether VivAer® is suitable for you.

Find the Relief You Deserve from Nasal Obstruction

Don’t settle for another night of nasal airstrips or frustration while trying to breathe through your nose; contact a provider to learn if the VivAer® procedure is right for you. This non-invasive, comfortable treatment can expand your airway in just minutes. Find the relief you deserve, just in time for the holidays, at Excel ENT in Birmingham!

Excel ENT: Sinus Experts in Birmingham AL

If you are suffering from chronic nasal obstruction or another sinus ailment, contact the sinus experts at Excel ENT. With years of experience, Dr. Davis and his team are experts in nose, throat, and ear treatments. Call us at 205-988-6858 or contact us online to find the relief you deserve!