Diseases and disorders of the ears, nose, throat, head, and neck negatively impact the lives of millions around the world. Our health information, created by our member physicians, provides a basic overview of diagnoses and treatment for many of these conditions.
The ear is made up of three sections: the outer ear, middle ear and inner ear. Each of these areas is susceptible to infections, which can be painful. Young children have a greater tendency to get earaches. While most ear pain resolves itself in a matter of days, you should get a physical examination to understand the type of infection, prevent it from spreading and obtain treatment to help alleviate the pain.
Hearing loss has a lot of different causes and manifestations. It can be sudden or gradual. It can occur in one ear or both ears. It can be temporary or permanent. It happens to people of all ages and is associated with the aging process. Before discussing causes and treatments for hearing loss, it is important to understand how hearing works.
The inner ear serves two purposes: hearing and balance. There are mechanisms in the ear that inform the brain about your position, orientation in space and movement at all times to keep you in balance. A false sensation of spinning or whirling, known as vertigo, can occur when the signal to the brain is blocked or misfires.
The nose serves three primary functions: to warm, humidify and filter air as it passes into the body. Breathing problems may impact one or multiple of these functions. Breathing problems can be temporary or chronic, mild or severe, but they usually increase with age.
Chronic sinusitis is a common condition in which the cavities around nasal passages become swollen and inflamed. Chronic sinusitis lasts several weeks and can linger for years. Most cases of chronic sinusitis develop following an acute sinusitis infection. Chronic sinusitis can be caused by bacteria, viruses, allergies, an autoimmune reaction, or a deviated septum.
Snoring is a noise produced during sleep that originates in the back of the throat or nose. Snoring occurs when the muscles in the back of the mouth, tongue and throat relax while sleeping, which narrows or blocks the airway. Breathing causes your uvula (soft palate) to vibrate and knock against the back of the throat, resulting in the snoring sound.
Everyone experiences sore throats when they have a cold or flu. But there are other reasons for sore throats that may be symptomatic of more serious problems.
Head and Neck Cancers
Most head and neck cancers are relatively preventable since they are highly correlated with tobacco use and alcohol consumption. They are also generally curable if caught early. Symptoms to watch out for include pain swallowing, trouble breathing, ear pain, a lump in the neck that lasts longer than two weeks, a growth in the mouth and bleeding from the mouth, nose or throat.
Oral cancers appear as red or white patches of mouth tissue or small ulcers that look like a canker sores, but are painless. Oral cancers usually form on the tongue or floor of the mouth, but can occur on any tissue in and around the mouth.