We all agree that the only time when you realized your ear, nose and throat were interconnected was when you applied ear drops and their residue passed down your throat. These organs, the ear, nose and throat are interconnected and share the same internal lining and hence the same infections.
Here is a list of the common disorders of the ear, nose and throat which affect us frequently.
The most prevalent among ENT illnesses, an ear infection is caused by the clogging of the Eustachian tube by fluid, mucus, or microbes. Less frequent among adults, an ear infection causes symptoms like ear pain, difficulty in hearing, loss of balance, nausea or vomiting or fluid discharge from the ears.
Ear infections can be of the outer ear, middle ear or inner ear. The outer ear infection or swimmer’s ear is due to the excess water retained after swimming or bathing causing bacterial infection. It may also be due to injury to the external ear by scratching or putting sharp objects into the ear.
A middle ear infection is called otitis media. It is usually due to an upper respiratory tract infection or strep throat causing a fluid discharge into the Eustachian tube, leading to bacterial infection. Otitis media causes ear pain, loss of sleep, headache, difficulty in hearing etc. Consulting an ENT specialist is best for its treatment.
It can be either partial when the audibility level is poor or complete as in the case of total deafness. Hearing loss may be temporary or permanent. A temporary hearing loss may be due to injury or infection or accumulation of ear wax and it can be corrected by ENT treatment or surgery. A permanent hearing loss is often due to damage to the auditory nerves and might be irreparable. However, hearing loss may be remedied by the use of cochlear implants or hearing aids with consultation with an expert ENT specialist.
Cholesteatoma is a non-cancerous growth occurring like a cyst in the middle ear behind the eardrum. It may be due to middle ear infections and can affect hearing and balance and even the functioning of your facial muscles. Symptoms of Cholesteatoma are pain or foul-smelling fluid discharge from the ear. If untreated, Cholesteatoma may result in facial paralysis, vertigo or permanent hearing loss.
Barotrauma is an ear disorder caused due to a variance of air pressure. This is usually caused by flying, scuba diving or rock -climbing or driving in mountains. Pain, dizziness, ear stuffiness and hearing loss are the symptoms. With medication prescribed by ENT specialists, barotrauma can easily be healed.
This most common nose disorder is nasal congestion caused by common cold, flu or allergies. The nasal lining is inflamed and swollen due to infection and cause mucus discharge and a stuffy nose. Decongestants and antibiotics prescribed by the ENT doctor will help relieve nasal congestion.
Nasal polyps are small non-cancerous growths in the sinuses or the nasal passage. They are caused by allergy, asthma, nose infections or immune disorders. Running nose, post-nasal drip, headache, snoring, loss of smell or taste are the symptoms. Nasal polyps can be cured with surgery or medication.
DEVIATED NASAL SEPTUM
When the nasal wall between the 2 nostrils is displaced to one side, it is called a deviated nasal septum. It may obstruct breathing and cause snoring, breathlessness, nosebleeds, facial pain etc. A deviated nasal septum can be treated using nasal dilators or by surgery.
Hay Fever has symptoms similar to the cold like itchy or running nose, sneezing, coughing, sinus pressure. But unlike cold, it is not caused by viruses but by allergens like pollen, dust mites, pet hair or feathers etc. Also called Allergic Rhinitis, Hay fever can be treated with nasal sprays and anti-allergic drugs prescribed by an ENT physician.
When the 2 oval-shaped pads or tonsils at the back of the throat get inflamed, the condition is called Tonsillitis. Tonsillitis is caused by viral or bacterial infection and results in difficulty in swallowing, sore throat, headache, fever etc. Mild cases can be treated with antibiotics while severe ones may need ENT specialist attention.
Pharyngitis or sore throat can cause difficulty in swallowing and a scratchiness of the throat. Measles, chickenpox, common cold, flu, whooping cough etc may cause pharyngitis. The infection is mostly viral and is treated with antibiotics.
It is characterized by persistent mouth ulcers and sores, mouth swelling, jaw pain, loose teeth, pain while swallowing etc. Cigarette smoking, tobacco chewing, drinking etc are the main risk factors part from genetic reasons.
Big or small, all ENT disorders must be attended only by a professional ENT specialist as the ENT tract is interconnected and may affect the adjoining organs as well.