Ear, nose, and throat doctors, more commonly known as ENTs, are often thought to only specialise in health problems relating to the ear, nose, and throat, but they focus on so much more. Otolaryngologists and ENT focus on the healthcare of all areas below the brain and above the lungs. These are usually problems that surpass the skills of your average family medicine doctor, and treatment and diagnosis would require the talents of a trained Otorhinolaryngologist.
What’s The Difference Between An Otorhinolaryngologist And An ENT?
We often get asked what’s the difference between an Otorhinolaryngologist and an ENT. To put it simply, there is no difference. Otorhinolaryngology is a medical speciality that specialises in treating conditions relating to the ears, nose, throat, head, and neck. Doctors trained in Otorhinolaryngology are called:
- Ear, nose, and throat doctors or
Thus Otolaryngologists and ENTs are the same types of doctors.
Now that we have established the definition and focus areas for Otorhinolaryngology. Let’s take a closer look at the most common illnesses and health issues ENTs can help treat.
Common Health Issues ENTs Can Help Treat
More and more people across the globe are being diagnosed with various types of allergies, especially hay fever or allergic rhinitis. The most common allergens are found circulating in the air, such as dust, pollen, pet fur or dander, mould or fungal spores and even smoke. Generally, these allergies irritate the ear, nose and throat areas showcasing symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, post-nasal drip, congestion, itchy nose, headaches and more. ENT allergists can help you detect the root of your allergies and advise on treatment.
Chronic Ear Infections
Ear infections are more than just ear pain and result from inflammation and infection of the air-filled spaces behind the eardrum. They are often caused by viruses that cause congestion and swelling like colds and flu or water lodged in the ear. Ear infections are painful, uncomfortable and can often result in fever. Antibiotics are usually prescribed to resolve.
Some people are more prone to developing ear infections than others, but if you repeatedly suffer from these infections, it could lead to permanent damage or even loss of hearing. It may be a good idea to consult an ENT to investigate the root of the problem.
Often associated with old age, hearing loss can be caused by other infections. If you experience slow or sudden hearing loss, an ENT can help you investigate the root of the problem and help you resolve and/or provide solutions for hearing assistance.
Nosebleeds are usually the result of damage to the blood vessels in the nasal cavity. These blood vessels are incredibly fragile, and sometimes even a simple bump on the nose could result in a nosebleed.
Other common causes of nosebleeds include: nose-picking, high-pressure or continuous blowing of the nose (often when there is an infection), sinusitis, inhaling irritants or drugs or change in climate (often dry or hot climates cause cuts in the nose leading to bleeding).
Nosebleeds are generally short-lived and can be resolved naturally on their own. However, if you are experiencing regular nosebleeds, it may be a sign of an underlying condition, and you should consult a specialist.
Sinus infections are similar to colds and flu, but are caused by bacteria and require an antibiotic to resolve. Symptoms include headaches, fever, congestion, cough, post-nasal drip, fatigue and even pain in your teeth. If sinusitis lasts for more months and the infection is persistent, it may signify other chronic issues. An ENT can help you investigate further if you are suffering from a prolonged sinus infection.
Sleep Apnea is a medical term that can be mistaken for snoring, but if you watch closely, you will be able to tell the difference between the two. Sleep apnea is characterised by shallow breathing or the constantly failing to breathe while sleeping, resulting in choking noises or thunderous snoring while you try to breathe. ENTs can help investigate this problem and provide you with appropriate treatment or solutions for your situation.
Vertigo or Dizziness
Vertigo is a syndrome which makes one feel like you are in a constant state of dizziness. Patients often describe this sensation as feeling as if everything around them is in a constant state of spinning. Vertigo is usually a result of irritation or inflammation of the inner ear, which is the centre for controlling balance and hearing.
Consult With A Specialist
If you are looking for a doctor to help diagnose and resolve any of the above issues, Welwitschia Hospital has excellent Otorhinolaryngologists on staff; find an ENT in Walvis Bay here.