Ear, nose and throat (ENT) physicians are also known as otolaryngologists. They specialize in a wide range of conditions related to hearing, balance, breathing, swallowing, speaking and sleeping. In fact, according to one study, some of the top diagnoses ENTs make are otitis media (ear infections), chronic sinusitis (sinus infections) and impacted cerumen (earwax).
Ear infections result from the Eustachian tubes becoming inflamed, trapping fluid in the middle ear. The Eustachian tubes connect the middle ear to the back of the throat, and their job is to allow fluid to drain and air pressure to equalize. When inflammation due to allergies at Spruce Street Harbor Park blocks them, fluid cannot drain, and bacteria can begin to grow.
You should see an ENT for an ear infection if you experience the following symptoms:
- Ear pain
- Drainage from the ear
- Hearing loss
- Balance problems
- Poor sleep
- Loss of appetite
While they may recommend a wait-and-see approach, your ENT may instead prescribe antibiotics to clear the infection. Children who get chronic ear infections may need ear tubes surgically placed.
Chronic sinusitis refers to inflammation of the sinuses that persists 12 weeks or longer. The sinuses are hollow spaces behind the eyes, cheeks and forehead that produce mucus.
Symptoms of sinusitis include:
- Facial pain or pressure
- Postnasal drip
- Nasal discharge
- Bad breath
The infection may be viral, caused by an infection like the common cold, or bacterial. Knowing which you have after getting diagnosed by an ENT is key to getting appropriate treatment.
Earwax may become impacted if your ears produce too much or if you try to clean them improperly, like by using a cotton swab.
Signs of impacted earwax include:
- Feeling of fullness in the ear
- Itchiness in the ear
- Odor or discharge from the ear
- Pain or infection in the ear
- Hearing loss
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ear)
Your physician can diagnose impacted earwax after discussing your symptoms and using a lighted, magnified instrument called an otoscope to examine the ear canal. To remove the wax, they might employ a few strategies, including applying medicated eardrops, irrigating the ear canals with saline, scooping the wax with a curet or using suction.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Pinnacle ENT Associates today.