How Does the Ear, Nose and Throat Work Together?

Everything’s connected! It’s like a conspiracy theory, but for your body. Or maybe not. Anyway, what you may not know is that the ear, nose and throat are actually related to each other; hence, why there’s a doctor specifically for that (otolaryngologist AKA an ear, nose and throat specialist). But how does the ear, nose and throat work together? There’s more to it than just their short distance from each other. Ever feel ear pain when you have throat problems or sinus issues? It’s because they’re actually connected. Here’s how: 

How are the ears, nose and throat connected? 

Berger Henry, a ENT specialty group out of PA says it like this, “Because the ear, nose, and throat are so intricately connected, they are able to function as one unit, with the pieces making up and supporting the whole. The downside is the sort of the same: because they’re so intricately connected, a disturbance in one can cause a problem in or for the other. The ear, nose, and throat are part of the upper respiratory system and they share the same mucous membranes.” (Berger, 2017). A great example of this is sinus infections leading to ear infections. But why? 

It all has to do with the tubing. For instance, the Eustachian tube connects the middle ear and the throat together. This Eustachian tube actually does carry mucus. Ear infections making sense now? Not only that, but the nose and sinuses are connected to the throat, which is where post-nasal drip is happening. That can be a real problem if someone has a sinus infection and the mucus is traveling down the throat. 

Another example is the connection that hearing loss has to dizziness and the risk of falls. Much of vertigo and dizziness actually pertains greatly to the inner ears. See what I mean? It’s all connected! It’s both a brilliant and a terrifying realization. 

What can an ENT do for me? 

An ENT specialist, AKA otolaryngologist, does a great many things and holds knowledge and skill of the ear, nose and throat that a regular practitioner might not. If this is your first time hearing that there are specialists just for the ear, nose and throat, then check out the list of things the Ear, Nose and Throat Institute covers: 

The Ear

Our ENT doctors specialize in all areas, meaning they can prescribe treatment for things like ear infections, but it doesn’t stop there. At the ENT Institute’s Hearing Center, our audiologists take care of a range of issues with a wide variety of treatments. 

  • Hearing loss: treatments include a range of hearing aid options from high-tech to completely invisible. 
  • Tinnitus: Described as constant ringing in the ears (other sounds too), tinnitus can be extremely debilitating. Thankfully, our specialists treat tinnitus with multiple ways including hearing aids, sounds, and other management tips. 
  • BPPV: calcium crystals in the ear actually cause vertigo and dizziness. Our PTs at our physical therapy locations have the technology and know-how to bring better balance back to your life. 

The Nose 

This includes a large number of things, but the ENT Institute isn’t without the proper staff and technologies to treat everything related. 

  • Allergies: It starts with an allergy test to properly diagnose which allergens affect you the most. From there, it’s allergy immunotherapy – the use of allergens to create shots or under-the-tongue drops that will desensitize the body to those allergens. Allergic to pet dander or pollen? No worries, we got you covered. 
  • Sinus infections: Okay, I’m aware that the sinuses and the nose passages are two different things, but it’s not called the ear, nose, sinuses and throat; therefore, you must bear with me. If you have several, long-lasting sinus infections per year, you probably have chronic sinusitis. There are several ways to treat this, but one of the more innovative procedures is called balloon sinuplasty – a non-invasive operation that is known to cure chronic sinusitis. 
  • Cold and flu: Although we do not have a flu shot, we do rapid flu and strep tests right here in the office. Better yet, we do same-day appointments so if you need to know what you’ve got but can’t get in to see your regular doctor, this is a great way to seek help immediately. 
  • Deviated septum: Otherwise known as the crooked nose, a deviated septum can cause all sorts of issues. To fix this, a septoplasty may be the most effective mode of treatment. Just know it is something that we do here. 

The Throat 

  • Reflux: Acid reflux can be irritating, but did you know that consistent reflux can cause cancer in the esophagus? Our specialists can perform what’s known as a transnasal esophagoscopy (TNE) where a tube with a camera on the end is used to receive imaging of the inside of your esophagus. It’s a painless and effective way to stay healthy and safe. 
Acid reflux symptoms
  • Snoring/Sleep apnea: Sleep disorders are generally caused by an obstruction to the airways that allow us to breathe properly at night. Sleep apnea is this but multiple times per hour, leading to serious health issues. With a simple sleep study, which can be done at home, our staff can determine if you have a sleep disorder and discuss treatment from there. Generally treatment includes a CPAP machine or the new innovative device known as Inspire. Snoring is one of the many signs of sleep apnea. 
  • Tonsillitis: The tonsils have a tendency to get infected, so we provide easy removal if the need should arise. Same goes for the adenoids. 
  • Speech therapy: This is an interesting one in the sense that speech disorders could have to do with the throat and the ears. For people with impaired hearing, speech might be difficult, which is why our speech therapist is both knowledgeable and skillful in what they do in order to provide the best care. 

If you’re in need of an ENT doctor, call 770-740-1860 or fill out the form at the top for same-day appointments. To learn more about the Ear, Nose and Throat Institute, fill out the form to the right to receive newsletters. 

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Berger, A. (2017, March 26). The Interconnected World of the Ear, Nose and Throat [Medical Blog] Retrieved from https://www.bergerhenryent.com/the-interconnected-world-of-the-ear-nose-throat/