Ear, Nose and Throat medicine (ENT) is also known as otorhinolaryngology and comprises three areas which are, in themselves, highly specialised. For this reason, there are ENT specialists who work primarily as rhinologists, otologists or laryngologists and yet, the ears, nose and throat are very closely linked both anatomically and functionally. As a result, ENT specialists usually include all three areas when determining a diagnosis.
Conditions of the outer ear, ear canal and middle ear can often be successfully treated physically or with medication. However, in some cases, surgery is required; this could be to insert grommets, to seal a collapsed eardrum, to clean the ear in the case of specific types of inflammation or to improve hearing in general.
When the nerve cells of the inner ear or vestibular system are affected (e.g. tinnitus, age-related hearing deterioration, vertigo), it is not always possible to treat the cause.
Difficulty breathing through the nose, chronic colds and pressure in the face are often linked to nasal deformities (e.g. deviated septum) or to a disruption in the passage of air through the paranasal sinuses (sinusitis). If conservative measures, such as nasal sprays, are not effective, then surgery can usually help. Septoplasty (surgery to correct a deviated septum), rhinoplasty (surgery to correct and reshape the entire structure of the nose) and endoscopic sinus surgery are the most common operations within ENT medicine.
Swallowing problems, sore throat and hoarseness are further typical symptoms which motivate people to see an ENT specialist. Cutting-edge endoscopes can be used in ENT medicine to view changes in the nasal cavity in detail. This technique can also be used to examine the whole pharynx and larynx, facilitating early detection and treatment of changes to the mucous membrane.
Snoring is not always just a noise problem. It can also impact on quality of sleep and cause secondary conditions. You should see an ENT specialist for a diagnosis, particularly if you are experiencing sleep apnoea or tiredness during the day.