There are many different symptoms that would signal the need for someone to see an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor. You may have a sore throat that won’t go away, experiencing ringing in your ears, or suffering from sleep apnea. You may have a condition that is causing problems with your ears, nose, and/or throat, but that is not directly related to these areas of the body.
Questions that a visit to an ENT can answer include:
- Is your throat hoarse and loss of voice caused directly by a throat condition or is it related to something such as GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease)?
- Are the problems with your ears caused by an ear infection or is a condition such as TMJ (temporomandibular joint)?
- Are your headaches related to swollen sinuses or is there a more serious neurological condition affecting them?
An ENT can help you better understand what is causing symptoms that manifest themselves in your ears, nose, and throat.
Here are some common types of symptoms and combinations that would instigate a visit to an ENT specialist.
- Sinus Pain: If you are experiencing pain in your face, upper teeth, or in your ear, and you have other symptoms, including drainage that is obstructed or abnormal or nasal congestion, then you should see a specialist. One of the most common causes of such symptoms is allergies; although more serious issues may also be associated with them.
- Sore Throat: An ongoing sore throat that does not get better, even after a visit to your family doctor and a dose of antibiotics, is cause for concern. Difficulty swallowing and a developing loss of voice may accompany this condition.
There could be something wrong with your throat or the symptoms and irritation may be related to a condition in another area of your body, such as your sinuses or upper digestive tract.
- Congestion: This condition can lead to discomfort and pain, as feelings of pressure in your head cause headaches and dizziness. Viral infections, seasonal allergies, and acute bacterial infections can often be a result of such symptoms. If congestion is ongoing, it may be related to a deviated septum.
- Hearing Loss: You may experience conductive hearing loss when there is an issue with an eardrum, ear canal, and/or the three bones connected to the eardrum.
Often there is a buildup of material in the ear, such as fluid or ear wax, which must be eliminated The other type of hearing loss, which is corrected with the use of a hearing aid, is sensorineural. This type of loss involves damage to the nerves from exposure to loud noise or sounds, or it may be related to aging.
- Airway Blockage: There are many different reasons as to why one may not be able to breathe properly and comfortably through his or her nose. These include a deviated septum, viral infection, or the development of polyps. A visit to an ENT will help pinpoint the problem.
- Headaches: A headache that won’t go away is one of the symptoms that is most commonly misunderstood or misinterpreted by patients. Although a headache may be the result of a sinus problem, it may also be related to acute upper respiratory infections, chronic sinusitis, or anatomic abnormalities.
Often a CT scan is used in diagnosing headaches, as this can help define the cause and point the way towards effective treatment.
- Drainage: Often drainage symptoms take the form of a runny nose and/or postnasal drip. If your postnasal drip is chronic, you may be suffering from acid reflux.