Skip to content
Ear, nose, throat
Ear, nose, throat Articles
A distorted sense of smell is quite common as people age. Called dysosmia, it can make people smell odors that are not there or be highly sensitive to certain smells. While it’s not bothersome for most, people should see their doctor if the condition becomes persistent.
Throat cancer occurs when cells in the organs used for breathing, speaking, and swallowing begin to divide rapidly and abnormally. Most throat cancer begins on the vocal cords. Later, it spreads to the voice box (larynx); to the back of the throat, including part of the tongue and the tonsils (this whole area is called the pharynx); or below the voice box to the subglottis and trachea (windpipe). An early symptom of throat cancer is unexplained hoarseness or a raspy voice.
Smokers are at high risk of throat cancer. Other people at risk include those who drink a lot of alcohol, especially if they also smoke. People with a vitamin A deficiency and certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection also may be more likely to develop throat cancer.
Throat cancer is associated with other cancers. Fifteen percent of throat cancer patients also are diagnosed at the same time with cancer of the mouth, esophagus or lung. Another 10% to 20% of people with throat cancer develop these other cancers later on.
You've gotten the basics down: you're wearing your mask, avoiding crowds, and keeping your distance from friends and family. But you likely still have questions. Does wearing a mask protect you, others, or both? How exactly will physical distancing help? And what do you need to know about the new COVID-19 vaccines?
The following actions help prevent the spread of COVID-19, as well as other coronaviruses and influenza:
Most people who become ill with COVID-19 will be able to recover at home. Some of the same things you do to feel better if you have the flu — getting enough rest, staying well hydrated, and taking medications to relieve fever and aches and pains — also help with COVID-19.
Beyond that, the FDA has also authorized treatments that may be used for people who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 and other medications to curb the progression of COVID-19 in people who are not hospitalized but who are at risk for developing severe illness. Scientists continue working hard to develop other effective treatments.
As we continue to learn more about coronavirus and COVID-19, it can help to reacquaint yourself with some basic information. For example, understanding how the virus spreads reinforces the importance of mask wearing and physical distancing. Knowing how COVID has impacted people of all ages may reinforce the need for everyone to adopt health-promoting behaviors. And reviewing the common symptoms of COVID-19 can help you know if it's time to self-isolate.
Coronaviruses are an extremely common cause of colds and other upper respiratory infections. SARS-CoV-2, short for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, is the official name for the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19.
If you are at increased risk for serious illness from COVID-19, you need to be especially careful to avoid infection. You may have questions about your particular condition or treatment, how it impacts your risk of infection and illness, and what you need to do if you become ill. Your doctor is best equipped to provide individual advice, but we provide some general guidelines, below.
The risk of serious illness from COVID-19 increases steadily with age, especially for those with underlying medical problems. According to the CDC, adults of any age with the following conditions can be more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19:
As COVID-19 continues to spread, the chances that you will be exposed and get sick continue to increase. If you've been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or begin to experience symptoms of the disease, you may be asked to self-quarantine or self-isolate. What does that entail, and what can you do to prepare yourself for an extended stay at home? How soon after you're infected will you start to be contagious? And what can you do to prevent others in your household from getting sick?
Some people infected with the virus have no symptoms. When the virus does cause symptoms, common ones include fever, body ache, dry cough, fatigue, chills, headache, sore throat, loss of appetite, and loss of smell. In some people, COVID-19 causes more severe symptoms like high fever, severe cough, and shortness of breath, which often indicates pneumonia.
Perhaps you're older, worried that you may become infected and seriously ill. Maybe you're doing your best to keep your family healthy while trying to balance work with caring for your children while schools are closed. Or you're feeling isolated, separated from friends and loved ones during this period of social distancing.
Regardless of your specific circumstances, it's likely that you're wondering how to cope with the stress, anxiety, and other feelings that are surfacing. A variety of stress management techniques, which we delve into below, can help.
This webinar series was created to support the students and staff of the Harvard Medical School community, yet the lessons will be broadly applicable to all who are feeling the emotional strain of this unprecedented crisis.
Children's lives have been turned upside down by this pandemic. Between remote schooling and playdates being cancelled, children's routines are anything but routine. Kids also have questions about coronavirus, and benefit from age-appropriate answers that don't fuel the flame of anxiety. It also helps to discuss — and role model — things they can control, like hand washing, physical distancing, and other health-promoting behaviors.
Children, including very young children, can develop COVID-19. Many of them have no symptoms. Those that do get sick tend to experience milder symptoms such as low-grade fever, fatigue, and cough. Some children have had severe complications, but this has been less common. Children with underlying health conditions may be at increased risk for severe illness.