Reasons to visit an ear, nose and throat specialist
An ENT physician is a medical doctor who specializes in evaluating and treating conditions of the ears, nose and throat. When a person experiences problems in one or more of these areas, it can be wise to visit an ENT for treatment. Some conditions that affect the ears, nose or throat are serious and will not resolve themselves. They can also lead to much discomfort and misery for a patient if left untreated. Seeing an ENT will speed up the time it takes for an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment to begin. The following are reasons why you may need to visit an ENT Specialist.
- Sinus Problems – Sinus problems can be evaluated and treated better by an ENT than your primary care physician because of their specialized knowledge. While your primary doctor is adept at handling colds, sinus infections can be very serious. An ENT has extensive knowledge, training and more familiarity with the sinuses that will allow him or her to accurately diagnose and care for any related conditions. An ENT is also likely to have knowledge about new effective treatments.
- Snoring and Sleep Apnea – Snoring is a noise produced during sleep that originates in the back of the throat or nose. It occurs when the muscles in the back of the mouth, tongue and throat relax while sleeping. This narrows or blocks the airway. Breathing causes your uvula (soft palate) to vibrate and knock against the back of the throat resulting in the snoring sound. Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. They may occur 30 times or more an hour.
- Vertigo – Vertigo is the feeling that you or your environment is moving or spinning and can be caused by problems with the inner ear. It differs from dizziness in that vertigo describes an illusion of movement. When you feel as if you yourself are moving, it is called subjective vertigo. The perception that your surroundings are moving is called objective vertigo. An ENT can diagnose the cause and develop a treatment plan.
- Headaches – You may not think to see an ENT for a headache, but some can be caused by sinus problems. Headaches that accompany sinus symptoms can mean more than just a “clogged nose.” Acute upper respiratory infections, chronic sinusitis or another serious condition may be the cause. An ENT will be able to find the cause and develop an effective treatment plan.
- Hearing Problems – An ENT can also help if you have difficulty hearing, have ringing in the ears, experience pain or have frequent ear infections. Issues with the ears, like hearing impairment, can be improved with treatment. An ENT will be able to determine if the source of the problem is in the eardrum, ear canal or the bones connected to the eardrum. Fluid, wax build-up, age or damage due to excessive noise may be other causes of hearing loss.
- Allergies – When your immune system reacts to a foreign substance such as pollen, bee venom or pet dander that does not cause a reaction in most people, you could have allergies. Common indications of allergies include sneezing, skin rashes, itching, or runny nose. An ENT can help with the diagnosis of allergies and a treatment plan.
- Head and Neck Cancers – Most head and neck cancers are relatively preventable since they are highly correlated with tobacco use and alcohol consumption. They are also generally curable if caught early. See an ENT if you have symptoms such as pain swallowing, trouble breathing, ear pain, a lump in the neck that lasts longer than two weeks, a growth in the mouth and bleeding from the mouth, nose or throat.
- Nasal Polyps – Nasal Polyps can affect people of any age, but they’re most common in adults older than age 40 and are twice as likely to affect men as women. They rarely affect children under age 10. When young children develop nasal polyps, cystic fibrosis should be considered as a possible diagnosis. An ENT can diagnose nasal polyps, develop a treatment plan and remove them.
- Oral Cancers – Oral cancers appear as red or white patches of mouth tissue or small ulcers that look like canker sores, but are painless. They usually form on the tongue or floor of the mouth, but can occur on any tissue in and around the mouth. An ENT can screen you for oral cancer and develop a treatment plan.
- Postnasal Drip – When your body produces more mucus than usual or the mucus is thicker than normal it becomes more noticeable. When the mucus runs down the back of the nose to the throat, it is called postnasal drip. Possible causes for postnasal drip include colds, flu, allergies, sinusitis, object stuck in the nose (more common in children), pregnancy, certain medications, deviated septum, changing weather fronts, certain foods, and fumes from chemicals, perfumes, cleaning products, smoke or other irritants. An ENT can help diagnose the cause and help treat it.
- Voice Issues – Some people experience changes in their voice or hoarseness that they think is just from age or overuse. However, there could be a more serious underlying problem. Benign vocal cord lesions, vocal cord paralysis, laryngeal cancer, and other conditions can affect the way your voice sounds. Most cases require voice rest, but an ENT will diagnose if voice therapy and/or surgery is needed.