There’s a wide variety of conditions that ENT physicians, also known as otolaryngologists, treat. While the methods of diagnosing each one varies, there are some things that are similar. For example, an ENT physician will always take your medical history, ask you about your allergies and talk to you about your symptoms. Then they may do the following:
Diagnosing Middle Ear Infections
Middle ear infections, known medically as otitis media, occur when fluid becomes trapped behind the eardrum. This normally occurs because the Eustachian tubes – which connect the middle ear to the back of the throat and allow fluid to drain – become inflamed. This is often due to allergies or respiratory infections.
To diagnose a middle ear infection, the provider will look in your ear using a lighted instrument called an otoscope. If the ear structures look red and swollen and there’s fluid discharge, it is likely due to a middle ear infection.
If your doctor suspects bacteria is present, they will usually prescribe antibiotics you can pick up at Key Health Pharmacy on Estrella Parkway. Otherwise, they will take a wait-and-see approach.
Diagnosing Sinus Infections
The sinuses are hollow, mucus-lined pockets located in the face behind the forehead, nose and cheeks. Their job is to circulate mucus throughout the respiratory system. If inflammation blocks the sinuses, mucus can pool in them, causing pressure, pain and other symptoms.
If your ENT physician suspects a sinus infection, they may use an endoscope, which is a lighted instrument that goes up the nose, to visualize the openings of the sinus cavities and take a sinus culture. They may also order X-rays or CT scans.
Antibiotics can help if the infection is bacterial. In severe, chronic cases, surgery may be necessary.
Diagnosing Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep. There are three types: obstructive, when the tissues in the mouth and throat collapse into the airway, central, when the brain fails to send the correct messages to the breathing muscles, and complex, which is a combination of the two.
Sleep apnea is diagnosed with a sleep study, which may take place in a sleep center or in your home.
There are several treatment options for sleep apnea, including lifestyle changes, oral appliances, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines and surgery.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Arizona Desert Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists today.