We all want to remain in optimal health. Losing any one of our primary senses can negatively affect our lives. A disability or medical condition related to one’s ear, nose and throat are best managed by an otolaryngologist. Knowing when to make an ENT appointment is important, as it ensures that you gain help at the right time without enduring pain or discomfort. Equally important is meeting a qualified, highly trained ENT physician who has experience in evidence based medicine and is up-to–date with the latest diagnostic tools and techniques to offer you the best of care. Dr. Annabelle Leong offers her expertise in both paediatric and adult ENT maladies and comes as a patient-centric ENT surgeon based in Singapore.
Some of the common reasons why you need an ENT appointment are:
- Persistent Hearing Loss: Are you having trouble with hearing? If this condition has been present for more than a week or two, then it is time to have an ENT appointment. While temporary loss of hearing could occur time to time due to loud music or a mild ear infection which might resolve on its own, persistent loss of hearing is something which you should pay attention to. A delay in seeing your ENT doctor, puts you at risk for permanent ear damage and hearing loss. A timely ENT intervention can go a long way for good ear health.
- Rhinitis: This is a common condition among children. The symptoms of this condition include a runny nose, coughing, sneezing, watery eyes and headache. Rhinitis is caused due to an allergic response often to pollen. There are two forms of rhinitis. The first is seasonal rhinitis which is common during fall and spring seasons. The second is perennial rhinitis which occurs all year round. The former is caused by external allergens like pollen while the latter is due to indoor allergens like pet hair and dust mites. Diagnosis is usually through a skin prick test. Treatment for allergic rhinitis depends on the frequency and severity of illness. An experienced ENT doctor will discuss with you the available treatment options. Antihistamines and de-contestants are the preferred, initial line of treatment. However, if your allergy is severe, then your ENT doctor may suggest immunotherapy.
- Sore Throat: Not all sore throats need a specialist intervention, but some turn out to be severe and persistent. Often it will resolve on its own or with over the counter medication. However, if your sore throat is coupled with difficulty in breathing or swallowing food, then you need to see an ENT doctor right away. It could be due to a Strep throat, which is a persistent bacterial infection needing treatment with antibiotics. Symptoms of Strep throat include fever, enlarged lymph nodes and nausea. Gastroesophageal reflux disease could be another cause. Other serious conditions include malignancies in the throat or voice-box which cause sore throat and a hoarseness in voice.
- Sleep Apnea: Sound sleep is important for good health. If you experience disturbances while sleeping and go through heavy snoring, then you should consult a specialist. Sleep apnea is potentially a serious disorder where there are repeated stops and starts in breathing. It can be life threatening. Age and obesity are risk factors with a higher prevalence in men. Treatment options include lifestyle changes and the use of breathing assistance devices at night such as a CPAP machine.
- Vertigo: Losing balance makes your body feel like it is spinning. Vertigo can have many causes, but the most common is due to an inner ear illness. Together with vertigo you may also experience ringing in your ears or nausea. A common cause is Meniere’s disease where fluid builds-up in the ear, causing episodes of vertigo and tinnitus. You should visit an ENT physician to diagnose the reason for your vertigo as there could be other reasons. By identifying the cause for your vertigo, it gives you a chance to start treatment as early as possible.
- Tonsillitis: Are you experiencing pain while swallowing? A possible cause could be swollen tonsil glands in the neck. Tonsillitis is caused mainly by either a bacterial or viral infection.Symptoms include fever, sore throat, difficulty swallowing and pain. Mild cases of tonsillitis tend to resolve on its own, but prolonged tonsillitis should be taken seriously. Severe throat pain due to untreated tonsillitis can cause a complication called peritonsillar abscess. Patients with this condition can barely eat or drink. Treatment includes draining of pus. Recurrent tonsillitis is treated through a surgical process called tonsillectomy. Your ENT doctor will decide if you need this procedure for recurrent tonsillitis.
- Facial Pain: Facial Pain might be due to Sinusitis. This is an infection caused by the inflammation of sinuses. Sinuses are tiny pockets occupying your cheeks, forehead and the eye area. When there is an infection, it causes the sinuses to feel heavy, painful and uncomfortable. Sinusitis is caused when you have an upper respiratory tract infection such as a cold. Viral sinusitis is the most common, with the chances of developing one being very high if you have nasal polyps. Although mostly a mild infection, chronic sinusitis needs attention as it can develop into a potentially life threatening condition. Complications of acute bacterial sinusitis can cause brain abscess or meningitis. This is because sinuses have thin walls and share blood vessels with the lymph drainage system as well as the central nervous system. It is recommended to seek advice from your otolaryngologist if your sinusitis is not resolved within 10 days.
- Hoarseness in Voice: An abnormal change in your voice should not be dismissed. If this condition doesn’t improve within 3 weeks, then you should have an ENT assessment. Laryngeal cancers which occur in the vocal cords cause a change in your voice making it hoarse. Changes to your voice is an early warning. Other causes of hoarseness in voice might be due to acid reflux, allergies and thyroid maladies. It is important for an ENT doctor to diagnose the reason for hoarseness.
Look out for these 8 ENT signs and symptoms and make sure to book an appointment with your ENT specialist. The sooner you react when you spot a symptom, the quicker you can relieve your discomfort. When visiting an ENT Clinic, take time to read up on your condition so you can make an informed decision on your own health and ask thoughtful questions during the consultation.