Otolaryngologists, more commonly referred to as ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctors, cover a broad spectrum of ailments including tonsillitis, sinus and ear infection, neck pain, skin cancer and more. While many of these ailments appear minor at first, ignoring the symptoms could lead to debilitating medical issues. Since we tend to ignore much of the pain associated with these medical issues, we need to know when it’s time to see an ENT doctor.
Tonsillitis, the inflammation of the pharyngeal tonsils located in the back of the throat, most commonly affects children ages 5-15. Viruses and bacterial infections are typically the cause of tonsillitis. Symptoms of tonsillitis include sore throat, enlarged tonsils, bad breath, tender neck and headaches. You should consult a physician if you or your child experience a sore throat lasting longer than 48 hours, experience painful or difficulty swallowing, or experience extreme weakness or fatigue. Ignoring these signs could lead to more pain and difficulty breathing and talking.
Sinus and ear infections often go hand in hand. Treatment for most sinus and ear infections typically comes in the form of over-the-counter medication. However, if ignored for long periods of time, the infection can spread throughout the body leading the hospitalization. Seeing a doctor may become necessary if you are running a fever or have pain in your head, face or ear that continues to linger after using non-prescription medication.
Neck pain comes in several varieties and from a number of sources. Most neck pain stops after a few days and requires no additional medical treatment. However, although rare, severe head and neck pain could be an early indicator of cancer or an infection. If your neck pain has been bothering you for more than six weeks or the pain continues to worsen, you should see a doctor.
With summer in full swing, many people are searching for the perfect tan. In this pursuit they tend to forego the application of sunscreen and instead decide to absorb as much sunlight as possible. Although this does lead to a sun tan, it can also lead to skin cancer. While the survival rate for skin cancer stands at 99 percent, the longer you wait to seek treatment the greater the decrease in the survival rate. Left unchecked, skin cancer can spread to lymph nodes and vital organs, drastically decreasing the chances of survival. If you notice unusual skin growths that won’t go away, patches of pale skin or rapidly growing moles, you should visit your physician.
More often than not, the ENT problems we face are resolved quickly and require little or no medical attention. However, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
About the author
Scott McClintick, DO, is an otolaryngologist at Freeman Ear, Nose, & Throat Center. Dr. McClintick is board certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. He attended medical school at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, Missouri, and completed his internship and residency at Freeman in 2005 and 2006, respectively. To learn more about the services provided by Dr. McClintick, visit freemanhealth.com/ent or call 417.347.8301 to make an appointment.