There are different medical conditions that can affect the head and neck region. Specifically, there are a couple of ear, nose, and throat problems that most general physicians are able to address, but there are also a couple of ENT issues that are best to consult a specialist with.
An otolaryngologist (such as an ENT doctor in Cebu City in the Philippines), is a doctor specialising in the structure and disorders of the ears, nose, and throat. Otolaryngologists would be the experts in managing the following common conditions that can affect the ear, nose, and throat.
Among the most common ENT problems is an infection in the ear. Ear infections typically happen as germs become trapped inside the ear. Bacteria and other microbes are usually kept out of the ear through a small canal called the eustachian tube, which drains at the back of the throat. However, if the eustachian tube is clogged with fluid or mucus, or if it gets swollen, such germs are able to cause an infection in the ear.
Signs and symptoms of ear infections include pain and pressure in the ear, difficulty in hearing, loss of balance, fever, nausea and vomiting, and fluid discharge.
It is quite common to experience pain in the throat region, or sore throat. Most of the time, a sore throat is caused by a virus, especially those that cause the common colds. However, a strep throat is caused by a bacterial infection. A bacteria called Group A Streptococcus is the most common bacteria infecting the throat, hence strep throat.
Strep throat is often more painful than sore throat, and is accompanied by difficulty in swallowing, fever, body aches, and fatigue. Strep throat also comes with enlargement of tonsils and lymph nodes, as well as white patches on the back of the throat.
Strep throat is quite infectious, and you are likely to catch it if you have been exposed within the last two weeks to someone with a strep infection.
The sinuses are the air-filled cavities in the face, around the eyes. When fluid or mucus builds up in the sinuses, the germs can cause an infection affecting the lining of the sinuses, leading to sinusitis. Sinusitis can be caused by the common colds, allergic rhinitis, nasal polyps, or a deviated septum.
Sinusitis is typically accompanied by pain and pressure in the face, runny and clogged nose, loss of smell, and cough. One may also experience fever and fatigue.
Sleep apnea is a condition where a person momentarily stops breathing during sleep. Sleep apnea is more common in people who are overweight and those who have enlarged tonsils. Sleep apnea can also be triggered or aggravated by sleeping pills.
Those who have sleep apnea would frequently find themselves waking up in the middle of the night, leading to a lower quality of sleep. In turn, this would lead to drowsiness in the daytime, accompanied with headaches, mood swings, and even depression.
Additionally, those experiencing sleep apnea would often be told that they snore loudly, that they seem like they’re choking, and that they stop breathing for a while as they sleep.
Aside from the 4 ENT issues above, other conditions that are best consulted by an otolaryngologist include ringing in the ears, hearing problems, nose bleeds, rhinitis, and tonsillitis. Most of the time, we’ll consult with a general physician, but in certain cases, we will also be referred to a specialist, so it’s best to check out ENT doctors when you feel any of the conditions affecting the ear, nose, and throat.
Adam Mulligan did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.