Diagnosis of Throat Disorders
Throat disorders can be diagnosed by simply examining the throat, as well as the ears, nasal cavities and lymph nodes of the patient.
To screen for viral or bacterial infections such as strep throat and tonsillitis, a throat culture may be used. Here, the patient is asked to tilt his/her head back and open his/her mouth wide. The throat doctor will then rub a sterile swab at the back of the throat near the tonsils, and take a sample of secretions. This sample will be cultured and undergo further testing in a laboratory.
Endoscopies may be performed to get a clearer view inside the throat, including the larynx and vocal cords, and check for symptoms and other abnormalities. For instance, laryngitis is typically diagnosed via laryngoscopy, where a lighted viewing instrument is inserted into the mouth to view back of the throat.
Imaging tests and biopsies are usually conducted to check for polyps and tumors.
Treatment of Throat Disorders
Mild throat conditions can be treated at home with sufficient rest and over-the-counter medication, and do not require the attention of an ENT specialist or throat doctor.
Throat disorders can be caused by bacterial and viral infections. Viral infections such as pharyngitis and laryngitis are treated symptomatically. This usually means drinking plenty of fluids and resting the throat by refraining from talking, singing and even whispering. Lozenges and over-the-counter pain relievers can also be taken to soothe the throat. If the conditions are caused by a bacterial infection, however, antibiotics may be administered.
Strep throat, in particular, is a bacterial infection that requires the immediate medical attention of a throat doctor. Antibiotics such as penicillin and amoxicillin are commonly prescribed for strep throat, in addition to self-care methods previously mentioned.
In the case of severe tonsillitis where there is already difficulty swallowing and breathing, the throat surgeon may opt to remove the tonsils via tonsillectomy. Surgery is also a main form of treatment for throat cancer and polyps.
If left untreated, throat conditions may worsen and have a significant impact in one’s health and daily life. Getting timely medical attention is key to ensuring a full and quick recovery. Dr Lau Chee Chong is a throat doctor and paediatric ENT specialist with diagnostic, medical and surgical expertise in managing throat and ENT disorders. To book an appointment, call 6235-9535.