Ears, Nose & Throat

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Ears, nose and throat (ENT) problems are extremely widespread and can vary in severity depending on the cause. Some of the most common ENT disorders include ear infections, strep throat, sinusitis and sleep apnea. However, the common cold remains one of the most frequent upper respiratory tract infections. These fact sheets produced by ENT UK can provide more in-depth information on ENT topics such as hearing loss, sore throats, blocked nose, glue ear, hayfever, hoarseness and nosebleeds.

If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be suffering from an ENT disorder, see our list of the most common symptoms associated with ear, nose and throat problems.

While it’s not possible to prevent all ENT disorders, a multitude of ENT problems are preventable with good hygiene practices. As it can be difficult to apply these practices to small children, toddlers who attend daycare or preschool are at a higher risk of developing chronic ENT disorders.

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The following is a list of the most common symptoms associated with ear problems.

  • Pain and pressure in the ears
  • Difficulty hearing, such as following conversation when there is background noise or when more than one person is talking
  • Loss of balance
  • Fluid discharge from the ear
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • In children, pulling or tugging on the ears, failing to startle at loud noises and not consistently responding to name
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The following is a list of the most common symptoms associated with nose problems.

  • Congestion
  • Nasal obstruction
  • Nasal discharge of various colours and consistency, which can drip from the front of the nose or into the back of the throat
  • Facial pain and pressure
  • Loss of sense of smell (anosmia)
  • Sneezing
  • Itching or crusting in or near the nose
  • An accompanying headache, fever, cough, fatigue or toothache

Snoring loudly, waking up frequently during the night, feeling unrefreshed upon waking and moody during the day are also signs of sleep apnea.

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The following is a list of the most common symptoms associated with throat problems

  • Persistent cough following a common cold
  • Red, sore throat
  • Swollen glands in the neck
  • White patches on the tonsils or in the back of the throat
  • Strained, husky or breathy voice
  • Changes in voice pitch
  • Complete loss of voice, resulting in only a whisper
  • Throat discomfort or irritation
  • Acid reflux
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Feeling of a foreign body caught in the throat
  • Fever, fatigue or body aches
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While it’s not possible to prevent all ear, nose and throat (ENT) disorders, a multitude of ENT problems are preventable. Some general prevention guidelines include:

  • Frequent hand washing to prevent infections
  • Avoiding exposure to illness
  • Practicing good hygiene, such as covering your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough
  • Avoiding exposure to cigarette smoke
  • Identifying and treating allergies before they become sinus infections
  • Keeping immunisations up to date
  • Not pushing too deep into the ear during cleaning to remove all of the ear wax
  • Exercising for 30 minutes a day, most days of the week
  • Eat a diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, beans, fish and lean meats
  • Limiting high-fat, processed or sugar-sweetened foods such as butter, desserts and soft drinks
  • Getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night
  • Using an over-the-counter saline nasal spray to keep your nasal passages from becoming blocked when you have a cold
  • Avoiding alcohol or sedatives near bedtime
  • Protecting your ears from irritants such as hair spray.
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