Health Topics

Ear nose and throat

Ear Infections
National Library of Medicine
Otitis Media
Swimmer's Ear

Ear infections are the most common reason parents bring their child to a doctor. Three out of four children will have at least one ear infection by their third birthday. Adults can also get ear infections, but they are less common.

The infection usually affects the middle ear and is called otitis media. The tubes inside the ears become clogged with fluid and mucus. This can affect hearing, because sound cannot get through all that fluid.

If your child isn't old enough to say "My ear hurts," here are a few things to look for

  • Tugging at ears
  • Crying more than usual
  • Fluid draining from the ear
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Balance difficulties
  • Hearing problems

Your health care provider will diagnose an ear infection by looking inside the ear with an instrument called an otoscope.

Often, ear infections go away on their own. Your health care provider may recommend pain relievers. Severe infections and infections in young babies may require antibiotics.

Children who get infections often may need surgery to place small tubes inside their ears. The tubes relieve pressure in the ears so that the child can hear again.

NIH: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders


Otitis Media
Children and Teenagers
Ear, Nose and Throat
Ear infections are the most common reason parents bring their child to a doctor. Three out of four children will have at least one ear infection by their ...
Adenoids
National Library of Medicine
Adenoidectomy
What are adenoids?

Adenoids are a patch of tissue that is high up in the throat, just behind the nose. They, along with the tonsils, are part of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system clears away infection and keeps body fluids in balance. The adenoids and tonsils work by trapping germs coming in through the mouth and nose.

Adenoids usually start to shrink after about age 5. By the teenage years, they are almost completely gone. By then, the body has other ways to fight germs.

What are enlarged adenoids?

Enlarged adenoids are adenoids that are swollen. It is a common problem in children.

What causes enlarged adenoids?

Your child's adenoids can be enlarged, or swollen, for different reasons. It may just be that your child had enlarged adenoids at birth. Adenoids can also become enlarged when they are trying to fight off an infection. They might stay enlarged even after the infection is gone.

What problems can enlarged adenoids cause?

Enlarged adenoids can make it hard to breathe through the nose. Your child might end up breathing only through the mouth. This may cause

  • A dry mouth, which can also lead to bad breath
  • Cracked lips
  • A runny nose

Other problems that enlarged adenoids can cause include

  • Loud breathing
  • Snoring
  • Restless sleep
  • Sleep apnea, where you repeatedly stop breathing for a few seconds while sleeping
  • Ear infections
How can enlarged adenoids be diagnosed?

Your child's health care provider will take a medical history, check your child's ears, throat, and mouth, and feel your child's neck.

Since the adenoids are higher up than the throat, the health care provider cannot see them just by looking through your child's mouth. To check the size of your child's adenoids, your provider may use

  • A special mirror in the mouth
  • A long, flexible tube with a light (an endoscope)
  • An x-ray
What are the treatments for enlarged adenoids?

The treatment depends on what is causing the problem. If your child's symptoms are not too bad, he or she may not need treatment. Your child might get nasal spray to reduce the swelling, or antibiotics if the health care provider thinks that your child has a bacterial infection.

In some cases your child may need an adenoidectomy.

What is an adenoidectomy and why might I my child need one?

An adenoidectomy is surgery to remove the adenoids. Your child might need it if

  • He or she has repeated infections of the adenoids. Sometimes the infections can also cause ear infections and fluid buildup in the middle ear.
  • Antibiotics can't get rid of a bacterial infection
  • The enlarged adenoids block the airways

If your child also has problems with his or her tonsils, he or she will probably have a tonsillectomy (removal of the tonsils) at the same time that the adenoids are removed.

After having the surgery, your child usually goes home the same day. He or she will probably have some throat pain, bad breath, and a runny nose. It can take several days to feel all better.


Adenoids
Adenoidectomy
Children and Teenagers
Ear, Nose and Throat
... lead to bad breath Cracked lips A runny nose Other problems that enlarged ... your child's ears, throat, and mouth, and feel your child's neck. Since ...
Barotrauma
National Library of Medicine

Barotrauma means injury to your body because of changes in barometric (air) or water pressure. One common type happens to your ear. A change in altitude may cause your ears to hurt. This can happen if you are flying in an airplane, driving in the mountains, or scuba diving. Divers can also get decompression sickness, which affects the whole body.

Common symptoms of ear barotrauma include

  • Pain
  • A feeling that your ears are stuffed
  • Hearing loss
  • Dizziness

Treatments for ear barotrauma include chewing gum and yawning to relieve the pressure. Medications such as decongestants may also help.


Barotrauma
Ear, Nose and Throat
Safety Issues
Barotrauma means injury to your body because of changes in barometric (air) or water pressure. One common type happens to your ear. A change in altitude may cause ...
Dizziness and Vertigo
National Library of Medicine
Vertigo
Vestibular Diseases

When you're dizzy, you may feel lightheaded, woozy, or disoriented. If you feel like you or the room are spinning, you have vertigo. These feelings may make you lose your balance.

Dizziness can have many different causes. A sudden drop in blood pressure or being dehydrated can make you dizzy. Many people feel lightheaded if they get up too quickly from sitting or lying down. Certain medicines and problems with your inner ear may cause dizziness. So can motion sickness. Sometimes dizziness can be a symptom of other disorders.

As people get older, they may have more health problems and take more medicines. This makes them more likely to have problems with dizziness and balance.

Dizziness usually gets better by itself or is easily treated. If you are dizzy often, you should see your health care provider to find the cause.

NIH: National Institutes of Health


Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo
Dizziness
Vertigo
Brain and Nerves
Ear, Nose and Throat
Symptoms
When you're dizzy, you may feel lightheaded, woozy, or disoriented. If you feel like you or the room are spinning, you have vertigo. These feelings may make ...
Ear Disorders
National Library of Medicine

Your ear has three main parts: outer, middle and inner. You use all of them in hearing. Sound waves come in through your outer ear. They reach your middle ear, where they make your eardrum vibrate. The vibrations are transmitted through three tiny bones, called ossicles, in your middle ear. The vibrations travel to your inner ear, a snail-shaped organ. The inner ear makes the nerve impulses that are sent to the brain. Your brain recognizes them as sounds. The inner ear also controls balance.

A variety of conditions may affect your hearing or balance:

  • Ear infections are the most common illness in infants and young children.
  • Tinnitus, a roaring in your ears, can be the result of loud noises, medicines or a variety of other causes.
  • Meniere's disease may be the result of fluid problems in your inner ear; its symptoms include tinnitus and dizziness.
  • Ear barotrauma is an injury to your ear because of changes in barometric (air) or water pressure.

Some ear disorders can result in hearing disorders and deafness.


Ear Diseases
Ear, Nose and Throat
Your ear has three main parts: outer, middle and inner. You use all of them in hearing. Sound waves come in through your outer ear. They reach your middle ...
Noise
National Library of Medicine

Noise is all around you, from televisions and radios to lawn mowers and washing machines. Normally, you hear these sounds at safe levels that don't affect hearing. But sounds that are too loud or loud sounds over a long time are harmful. They can damage sensitive structures of the inner ear and cause noise-induced hearing loss.

More than 30 million Americans are exposed to hazardous sound levels on a regular basis. Hazardous sound levels are louder than 80 decibels. That's not as loud as traffic on a busy street. Listening to loud music, especially on headphones, is a common cause of noise-induced hearing loss. You can protect your hearing by

  • Keeping the volume down when listening to music
  • Wearing earplugs when using loud equipment

NIH: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders


Noise
Ear, Nose and Throat
Poisoning, Toxicology, Environmental Health
Noise is all around you, from televisions and radios to lawn mowers and washing machines. Normally, you hear these sounds at safe levels that don't affect ...
Tinnitus
National Library of Medicine

Tinnitus is often described as a ringing in the ears. It also can sound like roaring, clicking, hissing, or buzzing. It may be soft or loud, high pitched or low pitched. You might hear it in either one or both ears.

Millions of Americans have tinnitus. People with severe tinnitus may have trouble hearing, working or even sleeping.

Causes of tinnitus include

  • Hearing loss in older people
  • Exposure to loud noises
  • Ear and sinus infections
  • Heart or blood vessel problems
  • Meniere's disease
  • Brain tumors
  • Hormonal changes in women
  • Thyroid problems
  • Certain medicines

Treatment depends on the cause. Treatments may include hearing aids, sound-masking devices, medicines, and ways to learn how to cope with the noise.

NIH: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders


Tinnitus
Ear, Nose and Throat
Tinnitus is often described as a ringing in the ears. It also can sound like roaring, clicking, hissing, or buzzing. It may be soft or loud, high pitched or low ...
Throat Disorders
National Library of Medicine
Laryngitis
Pharynx Disorders
Voicebox Disorders
Pharyngeal disorders

Your throat is a tube that carries food to your esophagus and air to your windpipe and larynx. The technical name for your throat is the pharynx.

Throat problems are common. You've probably had a sore throat. The cause is usually a viral infection, but other causes include allergies, infection with strep bacteria or the leaking of stomach acids back up into the esophagus, called GERD.

Other problems that affect the throat include

  • Tonsillitis - inflammation of the tonsils
  • Cancer
  • Croup - inflammation, usually in small children, which causes a barking cough
  • Laryngitis - swelling of the voice box, which can cause a hoarse voice or loss of voice

Most throat problems are minor and go away on their own. Treatments, when needed, depend on the problem.


Pharyngeal Diseases
Lungs and Breathing
Ear, Nose and Throat
Your throat is a tube that carries food to your esophagus and air to your windpipe and larynx. The technical name for your throat is the pharynx. Throat problems ...
Throat Cancer
National Library of Medicine
Hypopharyngeal Cancer
Laryngeal Cancer
Laryngopharyngeal Cancer
Nasopharyngeal Cancer
Oropharyngeal Cancer
Pharyngeal Cancer

Throat cancer is a type of head and neck cancer. Throat cancer has different names, depending on which part of the throat is affected. The different parts of your throat are called the oropharynx, the hypopharynx, the nasopharynx, and the larynx, or voice box.

The main risk factors for throat cancer are using tobacco heavy drinking. Certain types of throat cancer also have other risk factors. For example, having HPV is a risk factor for oropharyngeal cancer.

Symptoms of throat cancer may include

  • A sore throat that does not go away
  • A lump in the neck
  • Pain or ringing in the ears
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Ear pain

To diagnose throat cancers, doctors may do a physical exam and history, imaging tests, and a biopsy. You may also need other tests, depending on the type of cancer. Treatments include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Treatment for some types of throat cancer may also include targeted therapy. Targeted therapy uses substances that attack cancer cells without harming normal cells.

NIH: National Cancer Institute


Pharyngeal Neoplasms
Cancers
Ear, Nose and Throat
Throat cancer is a type of head and neck cancer. Throat cancer has different names, depending on which part of the throat is affected. The different parts of ...
Common Cold
National Library of Medicine
Cold, Common

Sneezing, sore throat, a stuffy nose, coughing - everyone knows the symptoms of the common cold. It is probably the most common illness. In the course of a year, people in the United States suffer 1 billion colds.

You can get a cold by touching your eyes or nose after you touch surfaces with cold germs on them. You can also inhale the germs. Symptoms usually begin 2 or 3 days after infection and last 2 to 14 days. Washing your hands and staying away from people with colds will help you avoid colds.

There is no cure for the common cold. But there are treatments that can make you feel better while you wait for the cold to go away on its own:

  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Drinking fluids
  • Gargling with warm salt water
  • Using cough drops or throat sprays
  • Taking over-the-counter pain or cold medicines

However, do not give aspirin to children. And do not give cough medicine to children under four.


Common Cold
Infections
Ear, Nose and Throat
Sneezing, sore throat, a stuffy nose, coughing - everyone knows the symptoms of the common cold. It is probably the most common illness. In the course of a year, ...