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General ENT

Understanding General ENT

Otolaryngology is the medical study that specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of issues concerning the ears, nose and throat (ENT), as well as the head and neck. This includes the management of medical conditions ranging from hearing loss and sinus infections to sleep apnea, voice disorders and cancer. A doctor who is trained in this field is called an otolaryngologist or, more commonly, an ENT specialist.

Types of ENT Conditions

The most common ENT conditions in both adults and children are:

  • Ear Infections – These occur when bacteria or virus afflict the middle (otitis media) or inner ear (otitis interna), causing inflammation, irritation and fluid build-up. Ear infections are more common in children, though most tend to go away on their own. In severe cases, the condition is accompanied by fever, nausea, hearing impairment and balance problems.
  • Allergic Rhinitis – Commonly known as hay fever, allergic rhinitis is caused by exposure to certain allergens, resulting in cold-like symptoms such as nasal congestion and discharge, sneezing and skin rashes. It may be seasonal or year-round. The condition can also be mild and easy to treat, or severe, causing sleep problems and interfering with one’s quality of life.
  • Sinusitis – This occurs when the sinuses, the hollow cavities in the skull, become irritated and inflamed, usually due to a viral infection. Typical symptoms include nasal blockage and discharge, coughs and headaches. Untreated allergies, common colds and asthma may also cause sinusitis.
  • Sore Throat – This refers to pain, scratchiness and dryness in the throat that may be caused by viral infections or environmental factors. It is typically classified according to the area of the throat affected, such as the pharynx (pharyngitis), tonsils (tonsillitis) and larynx (laryngitis). Strep throat, on the other hand, is caused by streptococcal infection that is treatable with antibiotics.
  • Sleep Apnea – This is a sleep disorder where breathing suddenly and repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. It is often caused by the relaxation of throat muscles which narrows the airway, limiting the amount of air that is inhaled. Symptoms of sleep apnea are loud snoring, mood swings, feeling tired after waking up and irritability.

Diagnosis of General ENT Conditions

For ear infections, a device called an otoscope allows the ear specialist to have a closer view inside the ear to check for signs of irritation and mucus build-up. If discharge is present, a sample may be collected to test for the presence of bacteria and virus.

Allergic rhinitis is diagnosed through a skin prick test, where the skin is exposed to various substances to identify the allergen that triggers the symptoms. A radioallergosorbent test (RAST) may also be done to check the amount of allergy-causing antibodies in the blood.

For suspected sinusitis, an ENT clinic typically provides various imaging scan technology as well as laboratory tests that can help determine if there are structural abnormalities or blockages in the sinuses. The nose doctor may use an endoscope to examine the sinuses, as well as obtain a sample for further assessment.

Sore throats are mainly diagnosed through visual and physical examinations, which include looking at the throat and feeling the neck for swollen lymph nodes. A throat swab may sometimes be collected by the throat specialist to determine if the condition is caused by a viral or bacterial infection.

Sleep apnea is more complex and may require overnight monitoring using a nocturnal polysomnography to better observe breathing patterns and other body functions during sleep. This includes monitoring the heart, blood oxygen levels, periodic limb movements, and brain and lung activity.

Treatment of General ENT Conditions

Most ENT conditions, including mild ear infections, sore throat and sinusitis, typically go away on their own with little to no treatment required. Conditions caused by viral infections are typically treated symptomatically, while those caused by bacterial infections require antibiotics. Mild symptoms such as pain and swelling may be alleviated through home remedies and over-the-counter medicines. In more serious cases, however, ENT surgery may be required.

Regarding allergic rhinitis, symptoms normally go away once the allergen is removed. For sleep apnea, aside from diet and lifestyle changes, medical devices and oral appliances such as a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine can help keep the airways open during sleep.

Additionally, foreign objects inside the ears, nose and throat require immediate removal by the ENT surgeon. Removal methods include using a pair of forceps or a suction catheter, or through water irrigation. Breathing problems, on the other hand, may be treated via medication, or in more serious cases, a tracheostomy, which is a procedure where a hole is created in the windpipe to facilitate breathing.

ENT Centre CC Lau provides comprehensive diagnosis and treatment for a wide range of Paediatric ENT and General ENT conditions, including allergies, hearing disorders, sleep apnea, as well as nasal and sinus disorders. Contact us at 6235-9535 to find out more about ENT conditions and treatments.

Dr Lau Chee Chong Senior Consultant,
Ear Nose Throat, Head & Neck Surgery

Dr Lau Chee Chong at Mount Elizabeth Centre treats both adults and children. His practice covers all areas diagnostic, surgical and medical of ENT, head and neck practice. The clinic is well-equipped for almost all ENT procedures to be done in-clinic, including NBI (Narrow Band Imaging) video rhinolaryngoscopy, which gives very clear images and is particularly effective in identifying early-stage nose, head and neck cancers.

Our Services

Comprehensive diagnosis
and treatment for all
ENT conditions

Diagnosis and treatment of Allergies

Diagnosis and treatment of Ear and Hearing Disorders

Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Diagnosis and treatment of Sinus and Nasal Disorders

Screening, diagnosis and management of Cancers

Diagnosis and treatment of Throat Disorders