ENT, otorhinolaryngology is the branch of medical sciences that deals with consultation, diagnosis, and treatment of various conditions of the ear, nose, and throat (neck). Since otorhinolaryngology is difficult to pronounce and spell; therefore, most people prefer to call otorhinolaryngologists as ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialists. So when should a person take an ENT consultation? Though an otorhinolaryngologist manages many conditions, here in this blog, we will discuss the most common ones, including:
Chronic Ear Infections
It is an infection in the air-filled space behind our eardrums. Some people are more prone to chronic ear infections. The highest number of these cases are kids between six months to two years. Their susceptibility to ear infection is because of the small size and shape of eustachian tubes and middle ears.
Most commonly, ear infections are secondary infections. They can be due to illnesses like colds, allergies, or flu causing ear swelling and congestion. Some of the common symptoms of these ear infections are:
● Impaired hearing
● Impaired balance
If you get ear infections again and again, go for an ENT consultation. For a child, these infections are riskier as hearing impairment may cause speech, social, and other developmental delays.
Ear tube surgery is the standard procedure for chronic ear infections. Here, the surgeon creates a small hole in the eardrum. The surgeon then guides ear tubes through this hole to ventilate the ear and prevent any fluid buildup in the future. These ear tubes remain in the ear for four to eight months before eventually falling out.
Hearing loss may be subtle or very evident. It may be sudden or gradual. If you experience a need to turn up the volume of your devices or feel others are just speaking too soft or mumbling, it may be time to consult an ENT specialist. An otorhinolaryngologist can work to find out the root cause of hearing loss. It can be due to an infection, damage to the inner ear, or a ruptured ear drum. Sometimes the reason can be as simple as wax buildup inside your ear.
Dizziness or vertigo
Our body moves due to the coordinated efforts of various systems. Balance is one critical element of body movement.
Different body systems (nervous, muscular, etc.) work with the inner ear to maintain balance. Most of us experience dizziness or vertigo at least once in a lifetime. It can be short-term due to sudden changes in posture, standing up quickly, medication side effects, or migraine.
But if there is a persistent feeling of dizziness or vertigo, it can be due to some problem with our auditory system. Sometimes calcium crystals in our inner ear get dislodged from their position. This condition is known as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. A person with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo often experiences dizziness with sudden bending over, rolling over in bed, or looking up and down. Your ENT doctor can work on a plan to improve your balance and reduce the intensity of symptoms.
Ringing in the ears
Sometimes we experience a ringing sensation or other noises in our ears without any external source. Sometimes these noises may last more than five minutes. The condition is called tinnitus and may be incurable. It can happen more than once a week. For some people, it becomes difficult to live with tinnitus affecting their quality of life. An ENT surgeon can help draft some strategies and decrease the sensation of a ringing sound.
Chronic Stuffy Nose
Sinusitis is one of the most common upper respiratory tract disorders in India. It is inflammation and swelling of the sinuses.
This swelling and inflammation block the free flow of mucus and make your nose stuffy. A person with sinusitis may exhibit the following symptoms:
● Difficulty breathing through the nose
● Discolored discharge from nose
● Tenderness around the eyes
Long-lasting or chronic sinusitis may not respond to treatment. Symptoms of a chronic sinusitis last longer than three months.
Some of the causes of chronic sinusitis are:
● nasal polyps
● deviated nasal septum
● repeated respiratory infections
● allergies, or complications of other conditions.
Your ENT specialist can help manage the symptoms of sinusitis through various treatment modalities, including but not limited to decongestants, antibiotics, or surgery.
Tonsillitis or chronic sore throat
Tonsils are oval-shaped tissue pads at the back of the throat. Inflammation of the tonsils is called tonsillitis. It may cause:
● Swelling of tonsils
● Sore throat
● Difficulty swallowing
● Tender lymph nodes of the neck
The treatment of tonsillitis depends on the cause. Your ENT doctor may give an accurate diagnosis and according to work on the treatment plan. Earlier surgery was the standard treatment for tonsillitis. Now the doctors recommend surgery only if tonsillitis does not respond to medical management or causes complications.
Enlarged lymph nodes of the neck
Lymph nodes are an essential component of our body's defense body mechanism. We have lymph nodes throughout the body, including the head and neck. Sometimes these lymph nodes become swollen, causing pain and tenderness. Most of the time, this swelling is due to an infection. Sometimes enlarged lymph nodes can be due to the infiltration of malignant cells. Swollen lymph nodes usually subside on their own within a few weeks. Consult with the ENT specialist immediately if:
● The lumps get bigger
● Associated with a fever and night sweats
● Present for more than two weeks
● Associated with voice change or sore throat
● Feel hard or rubbery
● Appear for no apparent reason
● Associated with unexplained weight loss
Sometimes a person may experience no breathing or breathe shallowly during sleeping. It is called sleep apnea. During sleep apnea, one may snore loudly or make choking noises. Due to reduced oxygen supply to the brain, the person suddenly may wake up. Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition, and it often remains undiagnosed.
Your ENT doctor may perform a complete sleep study and determines how well your body sleeps to determine the severity and treatment option for the sleep disorder.
The ear, nose, and throat are among the most vital organs in our body and require special care. Be vigilant about any aberration in these organs, and do not hesitate to consult with an ENT specialist.