Understanding When to See an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist

ENT Doctors You Can Trust

Understanding When to See an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist

Your throat is sore, you’ve lost your voice and it hurts to swallow. Is this sore throat just a case of the common cold or should you head straight to your local doctor?

What Conditions Do ENT Doctors Treat? What Does an ENT Do?

ENT, or ear, nose, and throat doctors treat a variety of conditions that affect your respiratory tract including your larynx or voice box. They also have expertise in conditions that affect the ears, nose, mouth, face, and neck. ENT doctors perform surgeries as well as treat illnesses.

Do I Need to See An ENT?

You can visit your general practitioner for a sore throat but if it’s severe, lasts for more than a week or you have a fever and swollen glands your GP may refer you to an ENT specialist.

You should see an ENT specialist if:

  • You have a sore throat and fever.
  • If your symptoms last for more than a week.
  • Your symptoms interfere with your ability to sleep, eat or work.
  • You have difficulty swallowing.
  • You have any change in hearing or balance, such as ringing in the ears, dizziness, or hearing loss.
  • You have a lump in your neck that doesn’t go away.

The most common ENT-related problems are sore throats which almost everyone has experienced at some point in their lives. A sore throat can be raised glands but more commonly refers to an inflammation of the lining of the throat causing pain on swallowing or soreness with sore throat symptoms including fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes (swollen tonsils), hoarse voice, and pain while eating. It is usually caused by a viral infection such as a cold virus but sometimes bacteria may this type of sore throat if you have poor oral hygiene or if you brush your teeth too hard.

What Is the Difference Between a Sore Throat And Strep Throat?

Sore throats are often caused by a virus that cannot be cured with antibiotics although in some cases, sore throat may be due to bacteria. Therefore, it cannot be treated with antibiotics unless there are accompanying symptoms such as difficulty swallowing or high fever.

Occasionally sore throat is due to an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism), and this will require further investigation however in most cases the cause of sore throat does not require further workup. If sore throat has been present for more than two weeks, it should also be investigated further.

Strep throats are usually due to group A beta-hemolytic streptococcal bacteria and can be treated with antibiotics. It is important to make the diagnosis of sore throat early as a bacterial infection sometimes requires antibiotic treatment if it is causing problems speaking, swallowing, or breathing.

When Should You See an ENT Specialist?

All sore throats require assessment by a health care professional however some sore throats are more concerning than others. If you have been coughing up blood that may indicate an underlying lung condition such as bronchiectasis and therefore it is particularly important to get your sore throat checked out by a doctor.

In addition, patients who have experienced sore throats for more than two weeks or have slurred speech should be investigated further by an ENT. Think of an ENT doctor as a “sore throat doctor” or investigator.

Other throat conditions diagnosed by ENT doctors include strep throat, tonsillitis, laryngitis, vocal cord nodules and lesions (growth – can be cancerous), pharynx (throat) cancer, salivary (lump in the gland near your jaw) gland tumors, thyroid problems, sialolithiasis or stones in the salivary glands.

How Can You Prevent Sore Throats?

The best way of preventing viral infections is by washing hands frequently, especially after touching any contaminated surfaces. If you have a cold, avoid close contact with other people until at least 24 hours after your last episode of coughing or sneezing. Covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing helps to prevent the spread of viruses.

Sore throats are very common but can be difficult to treat so seeing an ear, nose, and throat specialist early will help ensure that any serious underlying problems are diagnosed early.

1301 20th Street Suite 510
Santa Monica, CA 90404

3831 Hughes Avenue Suite 704
Culver City, CA 90232


© Copyright 2013 - 2023 | West Side Head & Neck | All Rights Reserved.

Call| Text