If you’re no stranger to stuffy noses, hoarseness in the throat, or the occasional sinus infection, then you’re probably just as familiar with the occasional visit to the family doctor. Seeing your general practitioner is always a great first step, but how do you know when it’s time to see a specialist? When it comes to ear, nose, and throat problems, here are 5 solid reasons to seek out an ENT.
1. Multiple Cases of Tonsillitis
This condition is common among both children and adults and may result in having your tonsils removed with the promise of frozen dairy treats afterward. Tonsillitis can sometimes quickly take a turn for the worse, so monitor for any difficulty swallowing, breathing, or severe throat pain alongside a high fever. An ENT can help to quickly determine a diagnosis and start treatment before the condition worsens.
2. Chronic Sinusitis
This common condition can cause inflammation of the sinuses for more than 12 weeks and is typically resistant to conservative treatment. If you suffer from chronic sinusitis often, your doctor will often recommend that you see an ENT to determine a better treatment plan for you.
3. Repeated Ear Infections
Anyone who has had an ear infection before will tell you how painful it can be, and there are several different kinds of infections. The most common type of ear infection is otitis media, which afflicts the middle ear just behind the eardrum. While your family doctor can typically handle this, repeated infections or constant pain could be a sign for further evaluation by an ENT.
4. Sudden Hearing Loss
Anyone can lose their hearing gradually, but sudden inexplicable hearing loss can point to some serious illnesses. An ENT can determine if it’s just an ear infection or a serious underlying condition of the inner ear.
5. Prolonged Hoarseness
A common cold or a case of bronchitis tends to leave hoarseness in its wake, but if voice changes last longer than 6 weeks you should seek out an ENT as quickly as possible. Prolonged hoarseness like this can indicate lesions on the vocal cords, or even cancer of the larynx. An ENT can determine if more testing is needed, both easily, and painlessly.
Knowing when to see a specialist can make all the difference in getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. In addition to the above reasons, you should also consider seeing an ENT for your allergies, as they specialize in the allergic inflammation of the upper airways. Furthermore, any lumps in the neck or throat should immediately be brought to the attention of an ENT, as these can indicate cancers of the mouth, throat, thyroid, and even certain blood cancers. An ENT can help determine the cause before anything can spread to the lymph nodes.