An ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT), or otolaryngologist, helps treat problems of the ears, nose and throat. It’s normal to have issues with these areas of the body, as they are some of the most commonly affected. Everyone has a sore throat, stuffy nose or ear pain at times. However, if you’ve been having ear, nose or throat pain frequently, you may be wondering when it’s time to see an ENT.
If you’re concerned that your symptoms have reached a new level, it may be time to schedule an appointment with an otolaryngologist. Here are five signs that you could benefit from seeing a specialist.
1. Hoarseness for Six Weeks or More
Hoarseness is common with colds, bronchitis and sore throats. But, if the hoarseness lasts for more than six weeks, it’s time to schedule an appointment with an ENT specialist. One of the main causes of lingering hoarseness is gastroesophageal reflux (GERD). Silent GERD can cause a lot of problems if left untreated, including a chronic cough. Other causes for long-term hoarseness include vocal cord lesions or cancer of the larynx.
2. Recurrent Ear Infections
An occasional ear infection is not a cause for concern, but repeated ones are. There are many different types of ear infections, and some can be caused by allergies, sinus infections, excess mucus, infected adenoids or smoking. As you get older, it’s also important to eliminate the potential for tumor growth in the throat, which can cause ear pain and ear infections.
3. Sudden Hearing Loss
If you’ve noticed that you’re not hearing as well as you once did, a visit with an otolaryngologist is due. People sometimes think that hearing loss is a normal part of aging, but this isn’t always the case. A sudden loss in hearing can be due to a more serious illness, neurological condition, circulatory problem or chronic infection. An ENT can run hearing tests and look inside the ears to determine what is causing the loss.
4. Recurrent Throat Infections
Chronic sore throats and tonsillitis can be a cause for concern. Most sore throats and tonsil infections resolve on their own without any lingering effects, but chronic ones signal that something is wrong. It could be a problem with the immune system that is making you more susceptible to colds and viruses, or it could be recurrent infections like strep. Get to the bottom of the issue and by getting checked out by an ENT specialist.
5. Lump in the Neck
If you notice a lump in your neck that doesn’t go away after two weeks, schedule an appointment with an ENT immediately. Cancer in the body can spread to the lymph nodes, making them swollen and painful. Also, lumps in the neck may indicate mouth, throat, thyroid or blood cancer. Usually, this is not the case, but it’s important to be proactive.
Otolaryngologists have the training and education to diagnose and treat conditions of the ears, nose and throat. If you are experiencing chronic symptoms in these areas, it’s a great idea to see an ENT and get the answers you need to live more comfortably.