St. Luke's University Health Network

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  • Ear Nose and Throat

Ear Nose and Throat

Treating Conditions that Affect the Ears, Nose and Throat at St. Luke’s

Our ears, nose and throat are important to many vital functions including breathing, hearing, swallowing, smelling, tasting, chewing and speaking. St. Luke’s can help with the many conditions that impact these simple, but vital activities. Some of these conditions are listed below.

Ears, Nose and Throat Conditions

Acoustic neuroma – A tumor that slowly develops on the nerve that connects the ear to the brain. As this non-cancerous tumor grows, puts pressure on the nerves that control hearing and balance. Symptoms of acoustic neuroma include dizziness, balance problems and/or loss of hearing in one ear.

Cough – There are two types of coughs. Acute coughs—the kind most often associated with colds—last no more than a couple weeks. Meanwhile, chronic coughs last longer and are caused by conditions such as allergies or asthma, or by lifestyle choices like smoking.

Dizziness and vertigo – Dizziness occurs when too little blood travels to the brain. Vertigo is a condition during which a person feels as though they or their surroundings are moving when they are standing still. Vertigo can be caused by problems in the brain or in the inner ear’s system that controls balance; vertigo also can be caused by problems in the nerves that connect the brain to the inner ear.

Ear infections – Inflammation of the middle ear that usually is caused when an infection in the respiratory system or throat spreads to the ear.

Esophagus Disorders – The esophagus is the muscular tube that carries food and liquid from the mouth to the stomach. Common esophagus disorders include gastroesophageal reflux disease, heartburn and cancer.

Facial injuries and disorders – Facial injuries and disorders can result from birth defects, nerve disorders and injuries and/or broken bones. They can be painful and affect a person’s appearance.

Hearing disorders and deafness – Hearing loss can be total or partial. Hearing loss can be caused by something keeping sound waves from reaching the inner ear, such as a build up of earwax. It also can be caused by damage to the inner ear by, for instance, an infection, disease or tumor.

Meniere's disease – A disorder of the inner ear causing a host of symptoms, including dizziness or vertigo; ringing, buzzing or roaring sound in the ears; hearing loss; and pressure or pain in the ear. Often Meniere's disease in just one ear.

Nose disorders – A variety of disorders that affect the nose. Some of the many conditions are:

  • Nosebleeds – Sudden bleeding from one or both nostrils.
  • Deviated septum – When the wall that divides the nasal cavity into two halves shifts
  • Nasal polyps – Growths on the nose’s lining or sinuses

Sinusitis – Infection or inflammation of the sinuses, which are the air-filled spaces in the bones inside the cheeks, between the eyes and behind the eyebrows. These air pockets make mucus, which drains into the nose. Sinusitis can be acute (lasting for a short time), or chronic (lasting several weeks or recurring).

Snoring – Occurs when the air that usually flows through the mouth and nose is blocked during sleep. When this happens, tissues located at the top of the airway bump into each other and vibrate. This creates the snoring sound. While it is usually harmless, snoring can also be a sign of sleep apnea, a potentially dangerous sleep disorder where a person stops breathing for short periods during sleep.

Taste and smell disorders – These disorders can be caused by injury, illness, medication or age. Taste disorders can lead to loss of taste or an inability to make the distinction between tastes. Smell disorders, meanwhile, can cause loss of smell or make things smell different.

Throat disorders – Common ailments caused by infection, allergies or gastric reflux. In addition to common throat disorders, other ailments include cancer and an infection of the tonsils.

Thyroid diseases – The thyroid is a hormone-producing gland found at the base of the neck. Thyroid disease causes the body to burn energy more slowly or quickly than it should. Following are the most common types of thyroid disease:

  • Hypothyroidism – When the thyroid gland is not active enough, causing fatigue, weight gain and a sensitivity to cold temperatures.
  • Hyperthyroidism – When the thyroid gland is too active. This generates excess thyroid hormones, causing increased heart rate, weight loss and a sensitivity to cold temperatures.

Tinnitus – A constant noise (e.g. whistling, ringing, clicking or hissing) in one or both ears. Tinnitus can be caused by hearing loss, medications or exposure to excessively loud noises.

Tonsils/tonsillectomy – Located at the back of the throat on each side, tonsils help prevent infection in the mouth, throat and nose. Sometimes your tonsils and adenoids become infected themselves. Tonsillitis occurs when the tonsils, themselves, become infected causing swelling and soreness. A tonsillectomy is the surgery to remove tonsils.