The ear, nose, and throat are unique areas of the head, face, and neck that often suffer from problems just like any other area of the body. No matter how you look at it, sleeping, eating, breathing, listening, and even talking and swallowing are all possible because of these features.
When issues occur, such as illness, infection, or even trauma from injuries, physical altercations, or accidents, sometimes a trip to a general practitioner, urgent care, or emergency room won't do. Anytime you have ear, nose, or throat problems, it’s beneficial to see a Los Angeles ENT doctor for assessment, diagnostics, and treatment.
Knowing when to see an ENT doctor is not always easy, especially when dealing with certain illnesses, symptoms, or injuries. Some issues are beyond the scope of self-care, first-aid, and store treatments and require treatment from an ear, nose, and throat specialist. Here's a checklist of the most common ENT problems in Los Angeles.
Ear Dysfunction, Infections, and Structural Problems
Ear infections usually cause inflammation. The common cold, flu, and sinus infections are the most common causes of ear infections. Inflammation in the ear can lead to swelling, discomfort, and pain. Ear infections, fevers, discharge, and pain can occur from structural abnormalities and certain medical conditions.
Ear infections can occur from various things, such as water in the ears from swimming or showering, swelling, and inflammation from allergies or sinus infections. Infections that cause swelling and fluid retention in the ear tubes occur most often in young children under the age of five. But it’s not uncommon for children and adults of all ages to develop ear infections at some point in their lives.
Most of the time, ear infections clear up on their own, but antibiotics and surgery are sometimes necessary. Structural abnormalities can also lead to infections that cause dysfunction of the ears. Some people, particularly infants and young children, are prone to infections in their eustachian tubes and develop barotrauma and benefit from ear tube placement surgery.
Ear infections and injuries are not pleasant to deal with; without proper care, they can worsen. In some cases, dizziness, speech difficulties, tinnitus, swallowing problems, and hearing loss can occur.
Hearing Loss and Difficulties
Hearing loss is a very serious and real issue for millions of people across the country. Though common and normal with aging, hearing loss can occur at any age, anytime, and be conductive, sensorineural, or both.
Normal hearing function requires soundwaves to enter the ears and travel to the inner structures for processing and transmission to the brain via the cranial nerves. When sound waves cannot reach the inner ear, the auditory system can’t transmit sound signals to the brain, causing conductive hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing deficiencies occur when the central nervous system, brain, or auditory system translates and processes sound waves abnormally. With conductive hearing loss, the most common causes include infections, injuries, blockages due to wax buildup, abnormal tissue growth, and foreign objects.
Snoring and Sleep Apnea
Snoring and sleep difficulties often occur together, but it’s normal to experience one issue independently of the other. Snoring is caused by airway blockages that prevent consistent airflow during sleep. Snoring can be attributed to non-disease causes other than sleep apnea, such as inflammation and swelling of the oral or nasal tissues due to alcohol use, allergies, sinus infections, and even severe nasal congestion. The most common and widely known symptom of snoring is the loud and disruptive sound it causes.
Sleep apnea can cause snoring, but not always. Many people are not aware they have this condition. Sleep apnea is serious and should never be taken lightly. Obstructive sleep apnea causes shallow breathing, shortness of breath, low blood oxygen levels, and poor sleep hygiene that's incredibly difficult to correct without proper ENT care. There are risk factors that increase the risk of development. Diagnosis and treatment delays can cause profound health changes, such as elevated blood glucose or diabetes, a decline in vascular health, such as heart disease or high blood pressure, and metabolic disorders like obesity.
Acute Sinus Infections and Sinusitis
Sinus infections are common and affect millions of Los Angeles residents every year. They occur when the sinus cavities in the head become inflamed and infected. Normally, these spaces are filled with moist air, but viruses, bacteria, and irritants can cause them to swell and trigger inflammation, mucus buildup, nasal congestion, and blockages. Sinus infections can also occur from allergies, nose polyps, septum deviation, injuries, and other nasal abnormalities that cause the membranes in the sinuses or nasal airways to become infected, blocked, or damaged.
Usually, sinus infections aren’t severe, but bacterial and recurring infections or persistent symptoms typically indicate chronic inflammation and swelling of the sinus cavities, surrounding nasal structures, or sinusitis. The most common symptoms of sinus infections include nasal congestion or blockages, nasal discharge or post-nasal drip, swollen nasal tissues, facial and head pressure, fever, etc.
ENT doctors specialize in treating infections, disorders, and abnormalities of the ear, nose, and throat. Treatments range from prescription antibiotics, nasal decongestants, and minimally invasive procedures like balloon sinuplasty and turbinate reductions to ear tube placements. Most treatments are performed in-office and require little patient downtime for a swift recovery.
ENT care protects the health and function of the ears, nose, and throat. Anyone dealing with issues that make breathing, hearing, swallowing, speaking, or sleeping unpleasant, difficult, or impossible, should make time in their schedule to see a C/V ENT Surgical Group specialist.