Otolaryngologists specialize in the treatment of ear disorders. We are trained in both the medical and surgical treatment of hearing, ear infections, balance disorders, ear noise (tinnitus), nerve pain, along with facial and cranial nerve disorders. Otolaryngologists also manage congenital (birth) disorders of the outer and inner ear.


Causes of an Ear Infection


Middle ear infections are caused by bacteria and viruses.

Swelling from an upper respiratory infection or allergy can block the eustachian tubes, which connect the middle ears to the throat. So air can't reach the middle ear. This creates a vacuum and suction, which pulls fluid and germs from the nose and throat into the middle ear. The swollen tube prevents this fluid from draining. The fluid is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria or viruses to grow into an ear infection.

What Are the Symptoms of an Ear Infection?

The symptoms of an ear infection in adults are:

  • Earache (either a sharp, sudden pain or a dull, continuous pain)
  • A sharp stabbing pain with immediate warm drainage from the ear canal
  • A feeling of fullness in the ear
  • Nausea
  • Muffled hearing
  • Ear drainage

In children, the symptoms are:

  • Tugging at the ear
  • Poor sleep
  • Fever
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Ear drainage
  • Diminished appetite
  • Crying at night when lying down


Ear Diseases

Meniere’s Disease


Meniere’s Disease is a problem in the inner ear, the part responsible for balance as well as hearing.


What are symptoms of Miniere’s Disease?


Vertigo – a spinning or whirling sensation that causes balance problems. It can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting and sweating. Attacks usually begin suddenly and may last up to 20 minutes. Attacks can come in clusters or rarely. The first one is usually the most intense.

Problems with hearing – hearing loss is often partially or completely lost during vertigo attacks.




Tinnitus/Ringing in the ear – a ringing, buzzing or whistling or roaring noise in the ear may come and go or may always be present. The noises may get louder just before a vertigo attack.  Tinnitus is most common in people older than age 40. Men have problems with tinnitus more often than women.


Possible causes of tinnitus include:

  • A buildup of earwax.
  • Medicines, especially antibiotics or large amounts of aspirin.
  • Drinking an excessive amount of alcohol or caffeinated beverages.
  • Ear infections or eardrum rupture.
  • Dental or other problems affecting the mouth, such as temporomandibular (TM) problems.
  • Injuries, such as whiplash or a direct blow to the ear or head.
  • Injury to the inner ear following surgery or radiation therapy to the head or neck.
  • A rapid change in environmental pressure (barotrauma).
  • Severe weight loss from malnutrition or excessive dieting.
  • Repeated exercise with the neck in a hyperextended position, such as when bicycle riding.
  • Blood flow (vascular) problems, such as carotid atherosclerosis, arteriovenous (AV) malformations, and high blood pressure (hypertension).
  • Nerve problems (neurologic disorders), such as multiple sclerosis or migraine headache.


Pediatric Ear Conditions

Middle ear infections


Middle ear infections are common in babies and young children.

Middle Ear Infection symptoms include:

  • Earache
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Discharge from the ear
  • Mild deafness
  • Difficulties in sleeping
  • Loss of appetite

Middle ear infections can be triggered by a cold. Mild cases clear up by themselves, but more severe infections need medical treatment including antibiotics.


Ear Tubes


Ear tubes are plastic and shaped like a hollow spool. We suggest tubes for children who have repeat ear infections or when fluid stays behind the eardrum. We place the tubes through a small surgical opening made in the eardrum. The child is unconscious under general anesthesia for this surgery

Tubes can help with ear infections by:

  • Allowing air to enter the middle ear
  • Allowing fluid to flow out of the middle ear through the tube into the ear canal
  • Clearing the fluid from the middle ear and restore hearing
  • Preventing future buildup of fluid in the middle ear while they are in place
  • Decreasing the feeling of pressure in the ears, which reduces pain




Tonsillitis is an infection or inflammation of the tonsils. The tonsils are balls of lymph tissue on both sides of the throat, above and behind the tongue. They are part of the immune system, which helps the body fight infection.

The main symptom of tonsillitis is a sore throat. The throat and tonsils usually look red and swollen. The tonsils may have spots on them or pus that covers them completely or in patches. Fever also is common.


Symptoms of Tonsillitis


The main symptom of tonsillitis is a sore throat. More symptoms occur in most cases. Some or all of the following may be present:

  • Fever
  • Bad breath
  • Nasal congestion and runny nose
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Red, swollen tonsils covered completely or in patches by pus
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Headache
  • Abdominal (belly) pain
  • Raw, bleeding patches on the tonsils



Deviated Septum


A deviated septum is a condition in which the bone and cartilage that divide the nasal cavity of the nose in half  is significantly off center, or crooked, making breathing difficult.

Most people have some sort of imbalance in the size of their breathing passages. In fact, estimates indicate that 80% of people, most unknowingly, have some sort of misalignment to their nasal septum.


Causes of Deviated Septum


Most people are born with a deviated septum while others have it caused by an injury to the nose.


Symptoms for Deviated Septum


For most people, the main symptom of a deviated septum is nasal congestion, with one side of the nose more congested than the other.  Recurring sinus infections also can be a sign of a deviated septum.

  • Nosebleeds
  • Facial pain
  • Headaches
  • Postnasal drip
  • Loud breathing and snoring during sleep


Treatments for Deviated Septum


In many cases, a deviated septum can be treated with medication, but if that does not offer relief, surgery might be the answer. Dr. Humphreys will evaluate your condition and recommend the proper course of treatment based on your individual needs.

Surgery can done on an outpatient basis.




Most often nosebleeds occur in the winter months when the climate is more dry and cold. They can occur at any age.

Nosebleeds can be categorized into two groups:

  • Anterior nosebleeds - the most common type. The bleeding comes from the blood vessel at the very front part of the nose.
  • Posterior nosebleeds – tend to occur in older people. The bleeding comes from the back part of the nose. These are more complicated conditions and Dr. Humphreys will provide treatment based on each patient’s need. In some cases, hospitalization is needed.




Sleep Disorders/Sleep Apnea


Sleep Apnea


There are three types of apnea: obstructive, central, and mixed. Of the three, obstructive is the most common. Despite the difference in the root cause of each type, in all three, people with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times during the night and often for a minute or longer.

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses and closes during sleep.
  • Central sleep apnea, the airway is not blocked but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe.
  • Mixed apnea, as the name implies, is a combination of the two. With each apnea event, the brain briefly arouses people with sleep apnea in order for them to resume breathing, but consequently sleep is extremely fragmented and of poor quality.


Symptoms of Sleep Apnea


Symptoms include:

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Fatigue
  • Poor sleep and dream abnormalities
  • Hypertension, irritation and personality change


Diagnosing Sleep Apnea


Some factors that help diagnose sleep apnea include: being male, overweight, and over the age of 40. However, sleep apnea can strike anyone at any age, even children. Untreated, sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease, memory problems, weight gain, impotency, and headaches


Treating Sleep Apnea


Using the Sleep Labs at Woodland Heights Medical Center and Memorial Health System in Lufkin, we can successfully diagnose and plan treatment for your sleep apnea. Utilizing state-of-the-art technology, patients can be evaluated overnight in the sleep labs and then, if necessary, fitted with devices to alleviate the problem.




A person snores when the flow of air from the mouth or nose to the lungs makes the tissues of the throat vibrate when sleeping. This can make a loud, raspy noise. Loud snoring can make it hard for you and your partner to get a good night's sleep.

Snoring may point to other medical problems, such as obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can be a serious problem, because you stop breathing at times during sleep. So if you snore often, please call me or talk to your primary care physician about it.

Snoring is more common in men than in women.