Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) is a broad medical practice area also known as otolaryngology. ENT encompasses the comprehensive diagnosis and treatment of the head and neck, and includes everything from pediatric ear infections to allergies to tonsil surgery. Below are just a few of the more common ENT conditions WellStar’s world-class adult and pediatric ENT physicians diagnose and treat for hundreds of patients throughout the year.
Ear Infection: Most ear infections, especially in children, involve fluid build-up in the middle ear, which can cause an infection. This type of infection is called otitis media. Symptoms can include:
- Popping or crackling noises
- Hearing loss while the fluid is in place
- Intense pain
- Upset stomach
The second most common cause of ear infection occurs when moisture gets into and stays in the outer ear, allowing bacteria or fungus to grow. Commonly called “swimmer’s ear”, symptoms may include:
- Swelling of the ear canal
- Drainage from the ear
- Some hearing loss
WellStar offers hearing and balance testing and treatment for a range of additional ear-related conditions, including hearing loss, “ringing in the ears”, called tinnitus, dizziness and many other conditions.
Sinus problems are a fact of life for many people in north Georgia. Environmental allergens, rapid changes in temperature and humidity throughout the year and smog combine to create a host of seasonal sinus problems. WellStar offers a wide range of treatments and relief for sinus problems in our communities.
Allergies: An allergy is a disorder of the immune system that causes the body to be hypersensitive to allergens, substances considered harmless to most people. Frequent symptoms of allergies include nasal stuffiness and congestion; clear nasal drainage; itchy eyes, nose and throat; postnasal drip, fatigue and sneezing. WellStar physicians administer tests that can identify the source of your allergies and provide treatment that helps you feel well again.
Sinus Infection: Symptoms of a sinus infection include pressure or heaviness in the sinuses, difficulty breathing through the nose, fatigue or a feeling of being generally ill. Additional symptoms include a cough, soreness in the very back of the nose or throat and increased, discolored nasal drainage, which may be white, green, yellow, brown, or blood-tinged.
Nasal/Sinus Polyps: Chronically inflamed sinus and nasal tissues may swell so much that the lining starts to hang from normal structures within the sinus passages, creating tissue with an appearance like a bunch of grapes. These polyps block nasal breathing and sinus drainage pathways. Nasal polyps are benign but frequently return after removal, unless the underlying factors that created them are corrected.
Snoring: Snoring is a noise produced during sleep when breathing causes the uvula, the soft tissue that dangles from the soft palate over the back of the tongue, to vibrate and knock against the back of the throat, producing a snoring sound. Causes that contribute to snoring include a deviated septum, an enlarged adenoid, sinusitis, and allergies. Snoring can also be a sign of a more serious problem, known as obstructive sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea: Because it disrupts the normal sleep pattern, sleep apnea makes you feel tired, slows your reaction time and can lead to confused thinking and memory loss. Other complications of sleep apnea can be high blood pressure, heart attacks, stroke, hypertension, anxiety and depression. The Sleep Disorders Centers at WellStar Windy Hill, Douglas, and Paulding hospitals are national leaders in programs that assess and treat sleep apnea.
Tonsils and Adenoids: The tonsils and adenoids are part of your immune system that helps your body fight infection. Tonsils are located on either side in the back of the throat, while adenoid tissue is located in the very back of the nose, above the palate. Swelling of the tonsils and adenoids can cause chronic infection, like recurrent strep throat, or block the airway when asleep. WellStar’s surgeons can resolve these recurrent problems by surgically removing the tonsils or adenoids.
Thyroid and Parathyroid: The thyroid is a small gland at the bottom of the neck that makes a hormone that helps regulate the body's metabolism.
- Thyroid conditions include goiters, which are an enlargement of the thyroid, and nodules, which may be cancerous. Overactive or underactive glands may also be a cause of an ENT disorder.
- The parathyroid glands are small glands on either side of the thyroid responsible for regulating the level of calcium in the bloodstream. A parathyroid gland may grow an adenoma, a benign tumor that requires surgical removal.
Pediatric otolaryngologists specialize in the care and treatment of children who may develop ear, nose and throat disorders such as:
- Tumors of the head and neck
- Facial and neck trauma
- Salivary gland diseases
- Hearing loss
- Airway obstruction
- Sleep apnea
- Otitis media and hearing loss
- Congenital anomalies of the ear or nose