ENT deals with three of the 5 sense organs-
EAR, which is responsible for Hearing & Balance
NOSE, which is responsible for Smell & Breathing
THROAT, which is responsible for Voice & Breathing
Since Ear, Nose and Throat are exposed to the atmosphere; they are constantly bombarded by the impurities in the atmosphere. Therefore it is important that we learn how to take care of these sense organs. Here are some of the things you can do:
Ears: Ears are actually two organs in one. One part of the ear is responsible for hearing and the other part for maintaining our balance. Ear is the first sense organ fully developed in utero or in the uterus itself.
Hearing Assessment in a just born should be done immediately using OAE. If hearing loss is detected, treatment should be started immediately. A child who does not hear well can have difficulty in speaking, as a child speaks what he/she hears. Another important point to be borne in mind is that much of the database for words, language and production of speech is formed by 5 years of age. Therefore, early rehabilitation can give better and faster results. In rare cases, Cochlear Implantation may be required.
Cleaning the wax in the ears by yourself must be avoided at all cost. Wax is naturally produced in the ear and is meant for protecting the ear from fungal and other infections. Usually the wax will soften and exit the ear on its own. But sometimes, the wax does get hard causing pain, in which case, you may be tempted to clean your ears, using ear buds. But this may cause physical damage in the ear canal leading to further complications.
Pain in the ear following a bout of cold/after a flight/after a slap/swimming or diving, should be taken seriously. Do not have a head bath or wait for the pain to subside on its own. The pain may be due to perforation of the ear drum. If not attended to immediately, it may lead to complications, ear discharge, and diminished hearing.
Ear discharge is not normal. It can be a sign of a serious infection that can spread to the brain & can be life-threatening
Foreign Body: If your child puts anything in his/her ear, or nose, do not attempt to remove it yourself as you may push it deeper which can cause injuries and complications. Instead consult an ENT specialist immediately, who will remove it for you.
Ear plugs, Head-phones and loud music can destroy the delicate Cochlea, resulting in Hearing loss or Tinnitus, hence, they must be avoided.
Nose: Repeated sneezing and cold are signs of allergy which can cause Rhinitis or Sinusitis. Tests can be done and today we have special treatment called Immunotherapy or Desensitization, which provides almost 90% cure.
Bleeding from the nose can be an indication of dangerous systemic and nasal conditions. When a person starts bleeding, first-aid should be given as follows: make the patient sit up while bending slightly forward, and pinch the nostrils tightly. Apply Ice cubes to forehead and go to a nearby ENT - Surgeon. The surgeon will identify the cause which most likely could be Hypertension or Cancer.
Today Sinusitis can be cured through Endoscopic Surgery (FESS). Popular perceptions that sinusitis prevails from childhood and cannot be cured, is wrong.
Throat: Is responsible for speech, swallowing and breathing. Any change in swallowing pattern, hoarseness of voice or difficulty in breathing should be attended to, at an early stage. Young women who are anemic, and have difficulty in swallowing may be suffering from PV Syndrome or even post-Cricoid Cancer.
Difficulty in swallowing with swelling in the neck should not be ignored.
Any change in voice should be attended to, in order to receive timely treatment
Infections of tonsils with lymph nodes in the neck require surgery to remove the tonsils. Tonsils are protective only as long as they are normal. But once they are destroyed by infection, it can trigger other ailments like kidney failure, rheumatic heart disease, arthritis, skin or eye problems.
Some children breathe through the mouth, or snore, or have perpetual cold. Such children could be suffering from adenoid enlargement. They may not be getting adequate oxygen, leading to daytime sleeping and lack of concentration. It is advisable for such children to be treated with adenoid tonsillectomy if necessary.
Fish bones get caught in the throat sometimes. In such a case, it is advisable not to give banana or rice balls because that will only push the bone deeper into the flesh, making it more difficult to remove the same. Immediate consultation with a doctor will solve the problem early. It is best to avoid toys that have small parts or battery cell, groundnuts, peas, beads, etc. as these can get pushed in to the lungs. Removing the same can be very difficult, leading to tragic consequences.
Take care of your Ear, Nose and Throat and they will serve you well for a lifetime.
Article by Dr. Ranjana Kumari Gupta
Senior Consultant ENT Surgeon, Kauvery Hospital