Throat, nose and ear problems are some of the most common health conditions for which people visit doctors. Read to know some of the common ENT problems in adults.
Throat problems: Common causes of throat problems are infection due to viral or bacterial infection (streptococcal throat infection).
- Pharyngitis or sore throat: It is a common reason for visits to family physicians, according to experts. In most people sore throats are caused by viruses and need symptomatic care. The viral sore throats are self-limiting and go away on their own in a week or less.
- Cold or Flu: The throat can be affected in common cold and flu. These also improve with symptomatic care (such as rest, drinking plenty of fluids, treatment of fever, decongestants, and gargling). Besides sore throat, people with cold may have cough, sneezing and a fever up to 102 degrees Fahrenheit; and in flu they may have cough, nausea, muscle aches and fever over 102 degrees. People with severe symptoms of flu, may be prescribed an anti-viral medication.
- Streptococcal sore throat: The symptoms of streptococcal sore throat are usually worse and the person may have symptoms such as high fever, sore throat (usually very painful) and pain on swallowing, white patches on throat and tonsils that are red, swollen, and inflamed, abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhoea (more common in children), tender and swollen lymph glands, and headache. Streptococcal throat infection needs to be treated with antibiotics and if it is not treated appropriately it can lead to kidney inflammation or rheumatic fever. To diagnose streptococcal sore throat the doctor may do a rapid strep test (the test takes about 15 minutes) and/or a throat culture. Sore throat caused due to bacteria is treated with antibiotics.
Ear problems: Ear problems occur in people of all ages and are especially common in children. As the throat, nose and ears are interconnected; ear problems can result from colds, allergies, and sore throat.
- Infections in ear: It can be caused due to bacteria or viruses following a cold or allergies. The increase in pressure in the ear and infection can cause earaches and pus discharge. Ear infections rarely cause death but if the infection is not treated appropriately it can lead to complications such as mastoiditis (infection of the mastoid bone behind the ear), meningitis or encephalitis (infection of the brain), deafness and sinusitis.
- Ear Wax: Wax is produced in the ear canal and it functions to protect and moisturise the skin of the outer ear canal. Excessive ear wax build-up can block the outer ear canal and hence wax should be removed occasionally.
- Tinnitus: If you hear an occasional or frequent low- or high-pitched ringing or roaring sound inside one or both ears it is tinnitus. It can be caused due to excessive wax, allergies, infections, circulatory problems, or long-term exposure to loud noise.
- Inner Ear Problems: Disorders of the inner ear can cause dizziness, vertigo (or even a condition called Meniere's disease) and even hearing loss.
Nose: Sinusitis, allergic rhinitis, nosebleeds, breathing difficulties and deviated septum are some of the common problems of the nose.
- Sinusitis: Sinuses are tunnels in the skull bone which contain mucus and air circulates freely in them. If it gets blocked due to cold, allergy or any other condition the mucus collects in the sinus and causes symptoms of sinusitis. Some symptoms of a sinus infection (sinusitis) are fever, congested nose with green or yellow discharge from nose, cough and/or sore throat, bad breath, pain in the forehead, cheekbones or jawbone and headache.
- Allergic rhinitis: It can occur in a particular season or throughout the year. Some of the common symptoms of allergic rhinitis include sneezing, nasal congestion, runny nose, and watery and itchy eyes. Secondary infection of the sinus can occur in allergic rhinitis.
- Nosebleeds (epistaxis): The tiny blood vessels that provide blood to the nasal cavities can get easily ruptured and cause nosebleeds. The common causes of nosebleeds include high blood pressure, dry air, sinusitis, allergies, colds, foreign objects in the nose, and picking of the nose.
- Deviated septum: The septum is a thin wall inside the nose which separates the two nasal cavities. Usually the septum is deviated a little (in approximately of 80%) and one nasal cavity is smaller than the other. But if the deviation is severe it can cause nosebleeds, frequent sinus infections and breathing difficulty.
These are some of the common ENT problems. If you have signs and symptoms suggestive of ENT problem which do not improve in a few days or worsen consult an ENT specialist.
Read more articles on Understand Ear Infection.