Different Ways ENT Disorders Are Diagnosed
The importance of a thorough examination of the eye, ear, nose, and throat receives too little attention. Many people have the tendency to ignore any discomfort whenever they feel pain in these areas.
The ears, nose, and throat, or commonly referred to as ENT, are vital parts of the human body that are utilized every day. The ears are not only responsible for our sense of hearing but also functions to help provide with a sense of balance. The nose is the sensory organ that equips you with the ability to smell, partially responsible for our sense of taste but most importantly, functions as a humidifier of air we breathe; and the throat primarily functions as a pathway for air to the lungs and food and fluids to the esophagus down to the stomach.
Indeed, it is imperative that regular checkup of our ears, nose, and throat must be recognized and rigidly observed because the dysfunction of any of the three will adversely affect your quality of life. If you feel any discomfort or if you feel some pain in these areas, it is important to seek an immediate medical assistance to get the precautionary measures needed.
Here, we have arranged some of the common ENT Disorders and the different ways to diagnose them.
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder causing one to stop breathing for brief periods of time while sleeping. According to a study published by the American Journal of Epidemiology, nearly 30 million people in the United States suffer from sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is tough to identify especially most of its signs and symptoms occur during sleep. These symptoms and signs include:
- Loud and chronic snoring
- waking up at night feeling short of breath
- gasping for air
- pauses in breathing
- daytime sleepiness and fatigue
- morning headaches
In determining if you have sleep apnea, your doctor will first ask your sleep patterns and sleep history. After the initial examination, your doctor will then check if you have an enlarged tonsil, uvula or some other structures that cause any blockage in the airway. You may also be advised to take a home or clinic-based sleep test to further assess your status.
The tests used to see if you have a sleep apnea include nocturnal polysomnography and home sleep tests.
During the nocturnal polysomnography, you’re hooked up to an equipment which will monitor your heart, lung and brain activity, as well as your arm and leg movements, breathing patterns and your blood oxygen levels while asleep.
The home sleep test, on the other hand, involves a simplified test to be done at home to diagnose if you’re suffering from sleep apnea. The test will monitor your blood oxygen level, heart rate, breathing patterns and airflow.
If you a sleep apnea is suspected, your doctor will refer you to an otolaryngologist to rule out the blockage in your throat or nose.
An ear infection is one of the most prevalent ENT disorder which occurs when a viral or bacterial infection becomes trapped and affect the middle ear. This disorder can be very painful because of inflammation and fluid buildup in the middle ear.
This ENT disorder is most common in infants and toddlers, and less common in adults than in children. Here are some of the signs and symptoms that tell whether you or your loved one is probably suffering from this disorder:
- mild pain or discomfort inside the ear
- difficulty hearing
- fussiness in young infants
- fluid discharge from the ear
- hearing loss
- nausea and vomiting
- balance problems
- irritability that escalates at bedtime (for small children)
If you have the signs and symptoms of an ear infection, your physician will use an otoscope― a tool that has a light and magnifying lens. There are several medical suppliers in the market, such as Emech Medical, that allow you to buy this device. This instrument helps your doctor visualize the condition of your outer ear and eardrum. If there’s some redness or pus-like fluid inside the middle ear, your doctor will take samples to ascertain whether certain types of antibiotic-resistant bacteria are present.
Your doctor may also subject you to a computed tomography (CT) scan to check if the infection has spread beyond the middle ear. Lastly, a hearing test will be conducted if you’re diagnosed to be suffering from chronic ear infections.
Sinusitis or sinus infection is an inflammation of the paranasal sinuses caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, allergies, or even an autoimmune reaction. Sinusitis can be chronic or acute. Symptoms of sinusitis include:
- a headache
- a cough
- blocked nose
- nasal discharge of various colors and consistency
- reduced sense of smell
- a toothache
- halitosis, or foul-smelling breath
If a sinusitis is suspected, your doctor will use an otoscope to go up the nose and visualize your nasal cavity. He will probably use an endoscope afterward to examine the opening into the sinus cavity and assess a direct sinus culture to check for any inflammation and/or discharge.
If the chronic sinusitis persists, a CT scan may be conducted.
Strep throat occurs when the throat and surrounding structures become infected by streptococcal (strep) bacteria that can cause you to have a sore, scratchy throat. Strep throat is a contagious disease. It is more common during winter and spring and is spread through contact with droplets from an infected person’s respiratory tract. The infection mostly affects children ages 5 to 15, but anyone can get it. Symptoms are usually abrupt in onset including:
- red, swollen tonsils
- difficulty swallowing
- enlarged tonsils
- enlarged lymph nodes
- white patches on the tonsils or in the back of the throat
- body aches
- skin rash
To diagnose or rule out strep throat, your doctor will first perform a physical examination, ask your health history and take a lab test such as rapid strep test or throat culture.
The examination involves assessing the back of the throat, where your doctor may take a throat swab right away. If a strep throat is suspected based on this assessment, your doctor will conduct further tests to check for the presence of strep bacteria.
If your doctor does a throat culture, he/she will swab a sample of cells from the back of your throat. The sample will be placed in a special cup where the strep bacteria was given room to grow over time. If the bacteria grow, you are diagnosed to have a strep.
A rapid test is another way to determine if you’re suffering from a strep throat although this test is proven not to yield an accurate result always. If the rapid test suggests that you have a strep throat, there is no need to do another throat culture while if the rapid test is negative but you have the signs and symptoms of a strep throat, your doctor may run a throat culture to make sure that the rapid test was accurate.
About The Author:
Emma Clarke is a dentist by profession and an aspiring writer. She reads a lot and loves dissecting philosophical observations on classic films.