Problems arising from the ear, nose and throat may necessitate a consultation with somebody like me. An otolaryngologist or ear, nose and throat surgeon specialises in conditions arising from the upper aero-digestive tract
Pain in the ear, a sore throat or nasal blockage are common presenting symptoms to General Practice. There are very common ENT conditions that can give rise to these symptoms, and in some cases this can be a presentation of something a bit more serious. 

What is an ENT specialist? 

ENT specialists are experts in both the medical and surgical management of the following: 
Ear problems 
You may experience hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), ear pain or problems with your balance. 
Nose problems 
You may have problems of blockage, breathing difficulty, snoring or smell disturbance. 
Throat problems 
You may have a sore throat, swallowing or speech difficulty or voice change. 
Head and Neck problems 
You may have a new lump in your neck or difficulty speaking or eating. 

What will happen on my first visit to see ENT ? 

If possible please provide a referral letter to my team which will be vetted. If appropriate you may undergo a hearing test prior to the appointment. 
My job at the consultation is to take a targeted history and perform a clinical examination. This may include a simple procedure called a nasal endoscopy. I will then be able to discuss potential diagnoses and further management plan. In some cases further investigations are needed. 

What tests do ENT doctors do? 

To help me best manage your condition, you may need adjunctive tests to help in the diagnosis. This includes (but is not limited) to the following tests: 
Audiometric testing 
Allergy testing 
Ultrasound scan of neck 
CT scan sinuses 
MRI of head and neck region 
Sleep study 

Why do I get ear pain? 

The most common cause of ear pain is ear infections. However sinus infections and throat problems can also cause earache. Your consultation about your earache may involve a hearing test. 
Common causes ear pain 
Ear wax 
Eustachian tube dysfunction 
Throat infection 
Sinus infection 
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome 

What causes a sore throat? 

A simple sore throat can be a common presentation in many conditions. Most of the time, a sore throat will pass in a few days. However if you're experiencing ongoing throat pain this can be concerning. It is therefore imperative to get early consultation and examination with an ENT expert. It is very likely you will undergo a nasal endoscopy. In most cases a diagnosis can be arrived at after this and the majority of your concerns addressed. In some cases further scanning is necessary. 
Common causes of sore throat 
Acid reflux 
Infectious Mononucleosis 
A growth in the region of throat 

Why is my nose blocked? 

Your nose can be blocked due to an obstruction (nasal polyps) or congestion (infection, allergies, and sinusitis). This can lead to a feeling of nasal blockage, facial pain and headache. Your consultation will likely involve a nasal endoscopy. 
Common causes nasal blockage 
Common cold 
Deviated septum 
Acute/ chronic sinusitis 
Nasal polyps 

What's head and neck cancer? 

Persistent changes in your voice, sore throat, a cough or a new neck lump may be symptoms of throat cancer. Cancers can affect your mouth, voice box (larynx), neck nodes, salivary or thyroid glands. Traditionally a history of heavy smoking or drinking was associated with head and neck cancer. However we now see more cases in young people that are associated with human papilloma virus (HPV) (ref 1). Therefore it's important to seek help early to avoid a delay in diagnosis. 

Key Message 

Symptoms arising from the ear, nose and throat are very common. They can be concerning and cause undue stress. Coming to see an ENT specialist like myself and undergoing a comprehensive consultation and examination can help allay your fears. Most conditions are not serious and can be managed medically or with some simple out-patient procedures. 
To find out more information on Head & Neck Cancer you can read the article published on the Centre of Disease Control & Prevention website 


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