Ear, Nose & Throat

ENT – Frequently Asked Questions for ENTs

written by Becki Andrus
ENT - Frequently Asked Questions for ENTs

One of the benefits of visiting with a medical specialist, like an ENT, is finding answers to questions you have about your healthcare. You can’t always trust the information you find online, which is why it’s important to establish a relationship with a local doctor.

What questions do you have relating to conditions and treatments for the upper respiratory system? If you need a diagnosis or care for the ears, nose, or throat, then you might be talking to your ENT about these types of questions:

What Is an ENT?

ENT stands for ears, nose, and throat. This phrase is a common term for otolaryngologists – doctors who specialize in diagnosis and treatments for conditions affecting the ears, nose, and throat, as well as other structures in the neck and head.

Can an ENT Help My Child with Chronic Ear Infections?

It’s normal for young children (under the age of three) to have one or two ear infections each year. This is because the child’s ear tubes are smaller than adults, making it easier for fluid to become trapped in the middle ear. Since children are prone to these painful blockages, it can be helpful to work with an ENT.

Not only can an ENT help with immediate relief and treatment, but they also help parents identify the best solutions for preventing ear infections in the future.

Is It Normal for Adults to Have Frequent Sinus Infections?

An estimated 11.6% of the adult population in the United States suffers from sinusitis (chronic sinus infections). In fact, sinusitis is one of the most common chronic conditions to be diagnosed in the country.

This condition occurs when the sinus lining is swollen and inflamed, causing obstructions, pressure, pain, discharge, congestion, and recurring infections. Medical treatment can be effective for clearing up the current condition, but sometimes surgery is necessary to open the blockages.

How Can I Tell the Difference Between the Common Cold and Allergies?

Common cold symptoms and allergies are similar: congestion, running nose, sneezing, watery eyes, and itching in the nose, throat, and eyes. But there are a few distinct differences that help you determine whether you have an allergy response or are getting sick.

If the symptoms only last for 7 – 10 days, it’s likely a viral infection. However, when the symptoms continue for weeks or months, it could be an allergy response.

Also, pay attention to when the symptoms flare up. For example, if you notice these symptoms during certain times of the year or when you are exposed to specific triggers, you should talk to an ENT about allergy testing and treatments.

Do I Need a Referral Before Meeting with an ENT?

Most of the time, you can schedule an ENT appointment without a referral from your primary care physician. However, sometimes, the PCP recommends that a patient visits an ENT because the general medical care isn’t sufficient.

Check with your insurance provider. For example, some managed-care insurance policies require a referral from the primary care physician before coverage is available from a specialist.

When Should I Talk to an ENT About Tonsil Removal for My Child?

When a child has recurring sickness and ongoing tonsil problems, you might benefit by talking to an ENT about tonsil removal surgery. There are times when the tonsils are so inflamed that they can result in obstructive symptoms in the upper respiratory tract, such as sleep apnea and snoring.

Tonsil removal is only recommended when the airway is obstructed, or the child is experiencing frequent infections (either bacterial or viral). Talk to an ENT if your child has more than 3 episodes per year of tonsillitis.

Is It Necessary to Have My Hearing Tested Before Getting a Hearing Aid?

Yes, it’s essential that you have a full-service hearing test before deciding if hearing aids are right for you. When hearing loss occurs, an ENT or audiologist needs to evaluate the patient to determine the underlying cause.

This examination is helpful in identifying any possible causes that could be treated. If the hearing loss can’t be treated through medical care, it’s time to consider using a hearing aid.

Additionally, a hearing test is an important step to ensure the ideal selection and programming of a hearing aid.

How Do Loud Noises Damage Hearing?

When your ears are exposed to loud noises, such as music or machinery, the tiny hair cells within the ear can be overworked. As a result, these cells die, resulting in irreversible damage to the membranes and cells within the cochlea of the ear.

The longer the exposure to loud noises, the higher risk of progressive hearing loss. These harmful effects can continue even when the noise exposure stops. This type of hearing loss can be prevented by avoiding loud noises or using ear protection when you are around loud noises.

Why Do I Hear a Ringing Sound in My Ear?

If you can hear ringing without identifying a source of the sound, then you might have tinnitus. Usually, tinnitus is caused by another underlying condition, such as an ear injury or even hearing loss. Other times, tinnitus occurs without an explanation.

Tinnitus symptoms can be ongoing, or some patients notice intermittent ringing. When the ringing is unbearable or has a negative impact on your life, talk to an ENT to determine the underlying cause. Then, you can explore possible treatments to address this root cause, which may help to reduce the symptoms of tinnitus.

What Are the Safest Ways to Clean the Ears?

Avoid inserting a cotton swab into your ear canal because it can cause damage to the sensitive areas within the ear. Instead, the safest method for cleaning the ear is to use a damp tissue or washcloth to wipe the outside of the ear. If the inside of the ear needs to be cleaned, then you should talk to an ENT specialist for treatment.

How Can I Protect My Ears and Avoid Hearing Loss?

Here are a few important ENT tips to take care of your ears:

  • Use a towel to dry your ears after a shower or swimming
  • Avoid loud noises
  • Use high-quality earplugs if you are exposed to loud noises
  • Schedule a hearing test if you suspect hearing loss

Is It Time to Schedule an ENT Consultation?

Whenever you have questions about health conditions affecting your upper respiratory tract, it’s time to set up a consultation with an ENT. This checkup helps assess and diagnose conditions affecting the ears, nose, and throat.

Our team offers ENT services for families in the Collin County and Dallas area. Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat has locations in Frisco or Plano, TX. Access the online form if you want to request an appointment, or call us at (972) 596-4005.

Our clients' stories

We find our patients’ experiences the most rewarding part of the job. Without them, we wouldn’t be one of the longest standing ENT practices in the area!

“We consulted Dr Tseng based on our pediatrician's recommendation. He's so great a doctor who took time to explain us everything and genuinely guided us in the right direction. He's such a caring, genuine and knowledgeable doctor. Oh how I wish there were more like him! ”

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“I have used Collin Co. ENT and Dr. Kenny Carter for over 3 years, primarily for ear problems. The staff has been consistently helpful and friendly to me. When I have had problems needing immediate attention and explained the need, have been able to get an appointment within a reasonable time to address the problem. I recommend Dr. Carter and his staff.”

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“Dr. Matheny performed 2 surgeries on my wife, both were successful with great results. He is not only a great surgeon, but a great person. It was a pleasure working with him. One of the best doctors we have ever seen in our lives.”

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