Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT Surgery)
What is ENT?
Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) is a term used for the specialty that involves treating problems arising in these areas, in addition to some other parts of the head and neck. The specialty is led by ENT surgeons (officially known as otolaryngologists), however, only 15% of people with ENT problems will go on to have an operation. These consultants are skilled in diagnosing, treating and managing a wide range of problems both non-surgically and surgically.
Your ear has three main parts: the inner ear is involved with balance and hearing; the middle and outer ear are involved with hearing only.
This is the visible part of your ear, and the only part directly exposed to the outside world. Conditions affecting the outer ear include:
- Infections – these are quite common, particularly in young children. An infection of the outer ear is called otitis externa, which is often painful and can cause discharge from the ear
- Cosmetic problems such as protruding ears; these can be corrected with surgery
In the middle ear, your eardrum is connected to a delicate set of bones that relay sounds to the inner ear. Conditions affecting the middle ear include:
- Otitis media, an infection of your middle ear; this is a common problem and it can cause fluid to build up over time, sometimes known as ‘glue ear’. It can also cause the eardrum to perforate in some people
- Otosclerosis – this is a condition that occurs when the eardrum becomes too stiff and stops performing its job properly
- Cholesteatoma, a condition where excess tissue accumulates in your middle ear and nearby bones. It often causes a smelly discharge from the ear and needs to be seen by a specialist promptly
The sensitive equipment for hearing and balance is located here. Problems with your inner ear can cause:
- Dizziness and vertigo
- Tinnitus which is a sensation of ringing or abnormal sounds heard in one or both ears
- Meniere’s disease – although not fully understood, it is thought to be a result of excessive fluid in the inner ear. It causes episodes of vertigo, tinnitus, hearing loss and feelings of pressure in your ear
Problems with the nose are most often due to inflammation or small growths:
- Rhinitis is a term used to describe inflammation of your nasal cavity leading to a runny nose and discomfort. Allergies are often a cause of rhinitis
- Sinusitis affects the air-filled spaces situated near to your nose within the skull, called sinuses
- Rhino-sinusitis occurs If both of the above are present, and this quite a common condition in children
- Nasal polyps are benign lumps that can cause bleeding, a runny nose and difficulty breathing
- Lumps and bumps in the nose can occasionally be due to something more serious and need prompt evaluation to exclude tumours
Some common conditions affecting your throat include:
- Tonsillitis – this is characterised by uncomfortable swelling and inflammation of the tonsils (a set of structures at the back of your throat). It is usually triggered by an infection usually either viral or bacterial
- Adenoiditis, a common problem in children that causes speech and breathing problems. The adenoid glands can be removed as treatment for this
- Obstructive sleep apnoea – this can be a result of soft tissue temporarily blocking the airways during sleep. It often causes snoring and tiredness during the day
Head and neck conditions
Lumps in the neck can be caused by any of the structures within the neck, for example, your salivary glands, which can swell up if they become inflamed or blocked. The main salivary glands are the parotid glands, located behind your jawbone, and the submandibular glands, which are on the underside of the jaw. The thyroid gland is another structure in the midline of your neck that can become swollen if it is inflamed or overactive.
What can you expect at an appointment with an ENT specialist?
If you are seen by one of our expert ENT specialists, they will take a detailed history of your problem by asking you a number of questions about your symptoms and how they have been affecting you. A careful examination of the affected area will be the next step, and the doctor can use special tools to look inside your nose, ears and down your throat. If your ears have been affected, or if you have noticed a change in your hearing then the surgeon may wish to perform some special hearing tests. For lumps in the neck, imaging such as ultrasound scans may be used to aid the diagnosis.
What treatments are available?
At Highgate Private Hospital, we offer regular appointments at outpatient clinics with our expert ENT specialists who work within a multidisciplinary team. Whether you need a simple investigation for your ear, nose or throat problem or complex head and neck surgery, we can care for you throughout your diagnosis and treatment. We specialise in:
Lumps and bumps in the throat
- Ear disorders
- Nasal allergies
- Nasal polyps
- Adenoid problems
Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT Surgery) Consultants