Eight ENT Conditions Needing A Doctor's visit
Our ears help us hear sounds, our nose facilitates smell and our tongue helps us taste. These are the fundamentals of living, which makes life beautiful. However, if our senses are no longer in function or if there are any disorders in either our ears, nose or throat, then our quality of life drops and it can even debilitate our occupations. Imagine a singer not being able to sing. This would greatly impact his or her livelihood.
To keep your otolaryngological woes at bay, The ENT Clinic is led by an experienced team of ENT specialists catering to both adult and paediatric ear, nose and throat conditions in Singapore. Located conveniently at both Gleneagles and Mt. Elizabeth Novena Center, this medical practice offers comprehensive care for acute and chronic ENT ailments.
Some of the common ENT conditions which warrant an ENT appointment are:
- Snoring and Sleep Apnea: Snoring can be a cause for alarm at times as it may be an indication of a more serious illness such as obstructive sleep apnea. In this condition, the patients pause breathing for a few seconds and startle to wake up in the middle of the night. This occurs because the throat muscles relax causing the airways to collapse, blocking the air passage. Obesity and certain nasal structures can bring about this condition. OSA can be life threatening and if left untreated it can lead to hypertension and heart attacks.
- Loss of hearing: Loss of hearing can occur in either one ear or both ears and the intensity can vary from a mild to a severe condition. While it could occur at any age, loss of hearing is most common in individuals who are over 60 years of age. Some of the common symptoms which let you know that you have loss of hearing are that the individual faces difficulty in understanding day to day conversations, needs to turn on the radio or television to a louder volume, the need for others to repeat what they have said or feels exhausted listening to others. Some of the reasons why one can experience hearing loss is due to the exposure of loud noises or it could be due to genetic factors. Trauma to the head or neck or use of ototoxic drugs or conditions like Meniere's disease too can lead to loss of hearing. At the ENT Clinic, an audiologist will check your level of hearing and an ENT physician will prescribe treatments to regain your hearing to suit your lifestyle.
- Sinusitis: This is a condition where the cavities which surround the nasal passages get infected and inflamed. It can be triggered by an allergy or cold. This condition may not resolve on its own and chronic sinusitis is a condition where infections in the sinus last for over 8 weeks. The usual symptoms are facial pain, nasal congestion, headaches and a runny nose. Sinusitis can affect the sense of smell too and relief can be obtained with nasal decongestants and saline sprays. Chronic sinusitis may require antibiotics.
- Tonsillitis: This is the inflammation of the tonsils due to an infection. It could be due to a bacterial or viral infection. The symptoms include sore throat, difficulty swallowing and throat pain. If there are very frequent episodes of tonsillitis then removal of tonsils may be recommended. A strep throat can result in serious complications like rheumatic fever which can damage the heart and kidneys. Tonsillitis can also lead to a blockage in the ear drum, causing glue ear and middle ear infections in children.
- Hoarseness in Voice: Hoarseness in voice will make your voice sound raspy, strained or low pitched. The throat will feel scratchy and usually reflect a problem in the vocal chords of the larynx. It’s important to have an ENT evaluation if the hoarseness in the voice lasts for more than 3 weeks, particularly if you don’t have any cold or flu symptoms. If you also observe difficulty in swallowing or coughing up blood, or feel a lump in the neck, then these signs and symptoms should not be ignored. Hoarseness in the voice can happen due to many reasons, such as vocal nodules, laryngitis or simply due to straining your voice due to shouting. However, prolonged hoarseness in the voice could even be an indication of malignancy. Having an early evaluation with an ENT doctor is important.
- Ear infections: Ear infections can occur due to bacteria or viruses. Ear infections cause inflammation and fluid build-up and can be chronic or acute in nature. Chronic infections take long to clear up and can be recurrent. It can cause permanent damage to the middle and inner ear. Ear infections can occur when the Eustachian tube gets blocked due to fluid build-up. Seasonal allergies, colds, sinus infections and smoking can increase the chances of ear infections. Ear infections which occur in the outer ear is called swimmer’s ear and is referred to as otitis externa.
- Tinnitus: This is when an individual experiences a ringing noise in either one or both ears. This ringing noise is not due to an external sound and this condition is common among older adults. An ENT specialist will be able to evaluate the condition and find the root cause of tinnitus. Some of the causes of tinnitus are that it can occur due to an ear infection, loss of hearing, a head or neck injury or due to certain types of medications. Certain antibiotics, NSAIDS, cancer drugs can lead to tinnitus. In addition, Meniere’s disease, ear bone changes, muscle spasms in inner ear may cause tinnitus. Thus, an evaluation by a physician will help to understand if there are any red flags indicating a serious condition.
- Reduced Sense of Smell: Anosmia or the partial or complete loss of smell can occur as a temporary or a permanent condition. Temporary loss of smell can be caused by allergies or respiratory conditions. However, it could also be an indication of a more serious condition such as a brain tumour, head trauma or damage to brain nerves. Old age too can cause a decrease in the sense of smell. This condition can have a great impact on the quality of life as it can affect the capacity of an individual to enjoy a meal completely. This condition is frequently caused due to a swelling or blockage in the nasal passage which prevents odours from reaching the nasal roof. It could also be an issue with the system which sends signals from the nose to the brain. If you experience a loss in your sense of smell for over three weeks, then it is advisable to have an ENT consultation.
When to seek help by an ENT Specialist?
Your general practitioner will be able to diagnose and treat less complex conditions. However, if there are chronic ENT conditions, such as sinusitis, ear infections, hearing loss then you will be referred to a specialist clinic for further testing and treatment. Persisting ENT problems can affect the developmental milestones of a child and affect the quality of life of the sufferer. Thus, evaluating for ENT conditions which may be overlooked as minor is important.
The ENT Clinic is a specialist otolaryngological team in Singapore which practices evidence based medicine. Equipped with a modern diagnostic centre, this ENT clinic caters to locals and those travelling to Singapore with a highly qualified and competent staff of nurses and doctors.