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What Throat Conditions Does An ENT Treat?

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patient discussing ENT treatment options with her specialist

There are many conditions that impact the ear, nose and throat, and the connections between these systems requires dedicated medical specialism. Ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists are consultants that are fully qualified experts in conditions affecting these areas of the body. The throat is one such system which your ENT doctor will be able to provide advice on. 

Your throat is a tube of muscle made up of three parts:

  • The larynx: Known as the voice box, which helps us form speech.
  • The epiglottis: A small flap that sits behind the tongue. It stops food entering the windpipe and remains open when we are breathing. When we do need to push food into the body, it opens and helps push food through our digestive system.
  • Tonsils and adenoids: When younger they help support our immune system against diseases, and as you grow older your body relies on them less and less. 

The throat is a complex system that can have a variety of conditions you would refer to an ENT doctor to treat. Throat health is essential for performing daily functions like eating and swallowing.

Acute laryngitis 

Acute laryngitis is when the vocal cords swell due to overuse (e.g. singing or shouting), a cold, or an infection. A common symptom of acute laryngitis is hoarsenessHoarseness affects the larynx, and is a condition that leaves your voice sounding raspy or different in tone when you speak. The larynx contains vocal cords, which vibrate when air from our lungs passes through them, producing speech or song. When the cords swell due to acute laryngitis, the sounds produced may be different in tone or pitch, due to a difference in the vibrations made around the swelling. 

Thyroid conditions

The thyroid produces hormones that help to regulate your body's metabolism. The gland is situated below the larynx and around the windpipe. There are many conditions that impact the thyroid which an ENT doctor would help treat.

These include:

  • An overactive thyroid - known as hyperthyroidism, the thyroid produces too many of the hormones it normally does. 
  • An underactive thyroid - known as hypothyroidism, the thyroid produces too little of the hormones the body needs. 

If you have a thyroid condition, your ENT doctor may prescribe medication to combat the effects. If the impact of the condition cannot be treated by pills, throat surgery may be recommended to treat the afflicted area.

Tonsillitis

Tonsillitis is the swelling of both tonsils and the adenoids. The tonsils may also be infected and either be overly red, or have white or yellow coating on them. Tonsillitis can cause difficulty breathing and swallowing. The condition can affect both children and adults, and can vary in severity. Your ENT doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat tonsillitis. If the condition persists even after antibiotics, in some cases a tonsillectomy may be required, which is the removal of your tonsils and adenoids. 

Acid reflux

Acid reflux is when your stomach acids back up into your throat, causing hoarseness and pain. There are two types of reflux:

  • Gastro-esophageal reflux (GERD): When stomach acids back up into the esophagus (swallowing tube). 
  • Laryngopharyngeal reflux (LRPD): When the reflux reaches the back of the throat. This could be more damaging than gastro-esophageal reflux, as the larynx and lungs are more prone to damage from stomach acid.

Your ENT may prescribe a proton pump inhibitor (PPI), which suppresses acid production in the stomach, limiting the changes of reflux. Although this condition affects both the stomach and throat, stomach acid can cause severe damage to your throat if left untreated. This is why it is likely to be a throat specialist who will be concerned with maintaining your throat health after acid reflux.

Your ENT will also treat a variety of different symptoms 

Although we have listed a range of specific conditions, you will also see an ENT doctor if you have undiagnosed symptoms affecting your throat. 

ENTs also treat a variety of conditions affecting your throat health, including:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Problems breathing or shortness of breath
  • Throat pain of any kind (potentially leading to a diagnosis of laryngitis or tonsillitis)
  • Snoring or sleep apnea (trouble breathing while asleep)

Our throat specialists at Mountain Ear, Nose, & Throat Associates Can Help

Our Mountain ENT doctors are here to support you and your throat health. We provide a small-town level of personal care to your diagnosis and treatment alongside unrivaled world class expertise. Mountain has over 35 years of treating patients with a variety of throat conditions. 

Contact us at:

  • Sylva: 828-586-7474
  • Franklin: 828-524-5599
  • Murphy: 828-835-1014
  • New Asheville: 828-458-8100

For small town personal care with a world class approach today.