ENT is a medical specialization for treating disorders related to ears, nose, and throat. The ears, nose, and throat are essential sensory organs with important roles in our day to day life. The ears not only perform a hearing function but also provide a sense of balance. The nose offers not only a sense of smell but also plays an important role in defensive mechanisms of the body and humidifies air to prevent germs from entering the body. The throat provides a route for air to reach the lungs as well as for food and water to enter the digestive tract. Dysfunction of ears, nose or throat results in disruptions of daily life and in some cases may result in a medical emergency.
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Signs and Symptoms of ENT Disorders
The most common signs and symptoms experienced by ENT patients are:
- Tonsillitis: Inflammation that occurs in the throat is often caused by tonsillitis. Tonsils are lumps of tissue present at the back of the throat. A bacterial infection causes tonsillitis which is a common illness most children suffer from. Some common symptoms of tonsillitis include:
- Sore throat
- Swollen tonsils
- Issues in Swallowing
- White or yellow coating on the tonsils
- Swollen neck glands
- Bad breath
- Ear Infections: Ear infections are one of the most prevalent ENT disorders that occur when germs are trapped inside the inner ear. The Eustachian tube which is a tiny canal originating in the ear and draining into the back of the throat usually keeps unwanted germs out. If this tube is too small or becomes clogged by fluid and mucus, then bacteria and other microbes may enter the ear and cause an infection. The common symptoms of an ear infection include:
- Ear pain
- Difficulty in hearing
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sinusitis: Sinusitis occurs when a germ finds its way into the four hollow recesses of the skull surrounding the eyes and nose. The infection then gets trapped causing inflammation and pain. Acute sinusitis is similar to common cold and occurs frequently during the winter months. Chronic sinusitis symptoms persist for more than 12 weeks and occur as a result of an untreated allergy or a chronic condition such as bronchial asthma. The common symptoms of sinusitis include:
- Postnasal drip
- Discolored Nasal Discharge
- Teeth pain
- Bad breath
- Sleep Apnea: Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that occurs when a limited amount of air enters the lungs. This can be life-threatening as the airway blockage can stop breathing for brief periods of time while sleeping. The common symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Waking up with a dry, sore throat
- Morning headaches
- Pauses in breathing
- Allergies: Most of the people suffer from allergies and there is a wide category of allergies in ENT one may suffer from. Sources of different allergies include medication, pollen, food, mold, dust, pets, and insects that can trigger multiple symptoms which can be dangerous. Some allergies can also cause long-term problems in the ears, nose, or throat. The common symptoms of ENT allergies are:
- Runny or stuffy nose
Basic ENT Tests
- Audiogram: The results of a hearing test are displayed on an audiogram. An audiogram is a graph displaying the softest sounds a person can hear at different pitches or frequencies. The closer the marks are to the top of the graph, the softer the sounds that can be heard by the person.
- Paranasal Sinuses X-ray: A sinus X-ray is an imaging test that uses a small amount of radiation for visualizing the details of sinuses. A sinus X-ray helps doctors to detect issues with the sinuses. Since sinuses are normally filled with air, the passages appear black on an X-ray of healthy sinuses. However, a gray or white area on a sinus X-ray indicates a problem that is most often due to inflammation or a buildup of fluid in the sinuses.
- CT – Paranasal Sinus: CT scan Paranasal Sinus(PNS) uses special X-ray equipment to examine the paranasal sinus cavities that are hollow, air-filled spaces within the bones of the face surrounding the nasal cavity. CT scanning is the most reliable imaging technique for determining if the sinuses are obstructed. It is also the best imaging modality for sinusitis.
- Laryngoscopy: Laryngoscopy is a medical procedure where a doctor examines the larynx, including the vocal cords, and the throat. The larynx is a voice box located at the top of the windpipe or trachea. The laryngoscope is put in through the nose or mouth and then down the throat.
- Thyroid Ultrasound: Thyroid Ultrasound uses sound waves to produce images of the thyroid gland and the adjacent structures within the neck. The thyroid gland is present in front of the neck above the collar bones. A thyroid ultrasound is performed to examine the thyroid for abnormalities including cysts, nodules, and tumors.
- Neck CT Scan: A cervical spine CT also called a Neck CT scan is a medical procedure that uses specialized X-ray equipment and computer imaging to produce a visual model of the cervical spine. The cervical spine is the superior portion of the vertebral column that runs through the neck. A neck CT scan is performed to diagnose potential injuries to this specific area of the spinal column after an accident.
- Cervical MRI Scan: A cervical MRI scans the soft tissues of the cervical spine and neck. A cervical spine MRI is usually done to examine the cause of neck pain. A cervical MRI scan is often performed if the pain does not improve with basic treatment and if the pain is accompanied by numbness/weakness.
- Myringoplasty: A myringoplasty is a surgical procedure done by an otolaryngologist to repair a hole in the eardrum. This perforation is repaired by placing a graft material called a temporalis fascia. The eardrum also called the tympanic membrane is located between the outer ear and middle ear. The chances of ear infection and persistent discharge from the ear is reduced after myringoplasty.
- Thyroplasty: Thyroplasty is a surgical procedure performed to place an implant in the larynx or the voice box alongside the vocal cord. The goal of the implant is to allow the paralyzed vocal cord to arrive at the midline and to eliminate the problems arising from the weakening of the vocal cords such as choking or coughing while swallowing and also correct the voice disorders.
- Micro Laryngeal Surgery: Micro laryngeal surgery, also called microscopic voice surgery, is a minimally invasive surgical procedure performed to correct voice disorders and breathing issues related to the larynx. The larynx, also known as the voice box, helps in producing sound, breathing, and protecting the trachea against food aspiration. Micro laryngeal surgery corrects any issue that affects these functionalities of the larynx.
- Tonsillectomy: A tonsillectomy is a surgery that is performed to remove the tonsils. Tonsils are two small glands present in the back of the throat. A tonsillectomy can also be used to treat breathing problems like heavy snoring and sleep apnea. Tonsillitis is an infection that can cause the swelling of tonsils resulting in a sore throat. Tonsillectomy should be performed if tonsillitis occurs frequently.
- Tympanoplasty: Tympanoplasty, also known as eardrum repair, refers to the surgical procedure performed to reconstruct a perforated tympanic membrane or the small bones of the middle ear. Eardrum perforation may result from chronic infection or trauma to the eardrum.
- Septoplasty: Septoplasty is a surgery performed to correct the defects/deformities of the septum present in the nose. The septum is the separation present between the two nostrils. Septal deviations are either present from birth or results from an injury. Many people with deviated septum do not develop symptoms. However, only the most severely deformed septa resulting in significant symptoms would require surgical intervention. For cosmetic uses, the septoplasty is performed along with rhinoplasty.
- Stapedotomy: Stapedectomy is a surgery where the fixed stapes of the middle ear is removed and replaced with a prosthesis. A stapedectomy is done to improve the movement of sound to the inner ear and treat the progressive hearing loss caused by otosclerosis. Otosclerosis is a condition where the spongy bone hardens around the base of the stapes.
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