What Is Otolaryngology?
Otolaryngology is a branch of medicine that deals with the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases of the ear, throat, and nose. A doctor specializing in this area is called an otolaryngologist.
These specialists are in demand all over the world. This is associated with widespread diseases of the ear, throat, and nose and the fact that these organs are closely connected with each other and form a single system. If you have a sore throat, the infection may easily affect the nose or ear as well. Therefore, timely diagnosis and treatment of the ENT system problems help preserve health and prevent complications.
Due to the prevalence of ENT conditions and their frequent exacerbations, people do not consider visiting a doctor necessary. They self-diagnose and self-medicate, which is not always effective and can even be harmful. A slight cold and uncomplicated viral respiratory infections may actually be treated at home without consulting a doctor. But if there is no improvement within 2–3 days and the disease is only aggravating, you should consult professionals. The doctor will examine you, give referrals to the tests necessary to obtain detailed information about the state of the ENT system, and prescribe a really effective therapy.
A common mistake is self-medicating and advising medications to your family members and friends. After all, you do not know your definite diagnosis, possible contraindications, and side effects of a particular drug. A common misconception among chronic cases is the opinion that recurrent exacerbations are caused by low immunity, which needs to be stimulated with drugs. However, one should remember that immunomodulators and immunostimulants should be prescribed by a doctor only since any unconsidered intervention in the immune system can lead to serious consequences. In this way, an acute disease can turn chronic, and complications may appear in other organs and systems.
The Most Common Diseases
The most common problems making adults seek otolaryngologist’s advice are chronic tonsillitis, vasomotor rhinitis, and earwax build-up. In children, the most common conditions are rhinitis (acute rhinitis), adenoid problems, and tonsillitis. An otolaryngologist conducts examinations of children of certain ages to prevent possible hearing disorders.
Acute chronic tonsillitis is characterized by a sore throat and red tonsils featuring white discharge. The relapse of the disease is facilitated by inflammation of the ear or throat, caries, exposure to cold, stress, or a seasonal viral infection.
Vasomotor rhinitis develops as a result of impaired blood supply to the nasal mucosal vessels. This causes swelling of the nasal turbinates and nasal breathing difficulty. The disease can be provoked by the long-term use of vasoconstrictors. They may not be used for more than 5 days: such medications become addictive, and the vessels are no longer able to narrow by themselves without using the vasoconstrictors. Only a specialist can tell the details: drug manufacturers rarely give such information. In addition, rebound congestion is difficult to get rid of: the treatment will be long, and even surgery may be required.
Finally, the last of the three most popular reasons for visiting an ENT physician is earwax build-up. Earwax build-up means the accumulation of earwax in the ear canal, which blocks the canal and interferes with hearing. Earwax build-up can appear due to excessive earwax production by the glands, narrow ear canals, or improper hygiene. The latter is the most common reason: people usually use cotton swabs and other dangerous devices to clean their outer ears. However, the ears are able to remove excess discharge of ceruminous glands on their own: you should only wash your ears while taking a shower or bath and use no devices to clean them.
The patients also visit ENT physicians in case of:
- ear and nose injuries and their effects;
- foreign bodies in the ear, nose, or respiratory tract;
- maxillary sinusitis;
Late treatment of diseases of the ENT systems in the period of occlusion development can lead to swallowing, breathing, and speech disorders. All this can cause occlusion problems which later make these children visit an orthodontist. An orthodontist often refers their patients to an ENT physician since throat or nose disorders can affect the process of occlusion improvement.
ENT Conditions Treatment Methods
An otolaryngologist also treats inpatients and performs operations. Modern ENT departments of foreign clinics possess all the necessary equipment for diagnosis and treatment. Surgical treatment based on endoscopic surgery involving minimal damage to tissues. After the operation, the patient quickly recovers from anesthesia and feels quite comfortable. Good health provided, a patient can leave the hospital the day following the surgery.
Surgery is used for:
- complicated inflammation of the nose, paranasal sinuses, pharynx, larynx, and ear;
- bleeding that requires immediate arrest;
- injuries of the ENT organs;
- hearing disorders;
- congenital anomalies of the ENT system;
- nasal septum deviation;
- non-inflammatory ENT diseases;
Clinics in Israel, Germany, Austria, and Turkey are glad to provide international patients with hearing aids and other surgeries improving or maintaining hearing. Competent staff will also help adjust the hearing aid.
The main advantages of non-surgical treatment methods used for ENT problems and other conditions:
- there is no damage to tissues, so recovery after therapy does not take much time;
- in most cases, the patient does not need to be hospitalized and can be treated at home according to the recommendations given.
In addition to medications, including anti-inflammatory and antibiotics as the most popular ones, physiotherapy is used to treat ENT conditions. The doctors also resort to ultrasound, laser, magnetic and ultraviolet radiation, thermal procedures, electrophoresis, etc. These treatment methods are safe and can be used even in elderly people with concomitant diseases. Physiotherapy helps relieve distressing symptoms and ensure a quick recovery.
If a person suffers from a chronic disease of the ENT system featuring frequent and prolonged exacerbations, an immunologist can take part in their treatment. This doctor will give recommendations on the immune system reinforcement, compliance with which will enable the patient to overcome unceasing exacerbations of chronic infections.
Timely comprehensive rehabilitation can significantly reduce the risks of late complications and prevent recurrent exacerbations of chronic ENT conditions. The rehabilitation includes inhalations, physiotherapy, exercise therapy, conditioning to the cold, and many other procedures. All these procedures have a positive effect on the body and the immune system: a person becomes more resistant to relapses of ENT problems, especially inflammation.
Otolaryngologists, professional rehabilitation physicians, who are hard to find in Russia due to the absence of a base for their training, take part in the preparation of the rehabilitation procedures set. Those patients, who underwent a full rehabilitation program, have sleep and overall health improved and are brought into long-term remission for their chronic diseases.