The Fono

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Ear, Nose and Throat Health

Your ear, nose and throat are the upper end of your airways system. They can be prone to viral infections, and conditions can affect your hearing, balance, vision and breathing. 

Ear health 

The most common ear conditions are ear infections and glue ear. An ear infection is most often a bacterial or viral infection that affects the middle ear, the air-filled space behind the eardrum that contains the tiny vibrating bones of the ear. Children are more likely than adults to get ear infections.

Ear infections are often painful because of inflammation and build-up of fluids in the middle ear. They often clear up on their own therefore treatment may begin with managing pain and monitoring the problem. Ear infection in infants and severe cases in general often require antibiotic medications. Long-term problems related to ear infections — persistent fluids in the middle ear, persistent infections or frequent infections — can cause hearing problems and other serious complications.

Glue ear occurs when there is fluid in the space behind the ear drum (middle ear). It can affect one or both ears and the main symptom is hearing difficulty. Hearing loss for prolonged periods of time during the early years may affect speech and language development. Glue ear can be treated and hearing restored with the insertion of grommets.

Nose health

Disease and disorders of the nose typically affect the sinuses, which are air-filled spaces behind the forehead, nasal bones, cheeks and eyes that are lined with mucus membranes. In healthy sinuses, mucus is able to drain out and air can circulate easily.

However, when there is a sinus disorder or disease, openings in the sinus cavity can become blocked or too much mucus builds up and bacteria and other germs can grow more easily leading to sinusitis - an inflammation of the sinuses that can last up to four weeks, known as acute sinusitis, or can last three months or longer, known as chronic sinusitis.

The nose is prone to diseases such as rhinitis which occurs when you breathe in something you are allergic to, such as dust, dander or pollen; and nasal polyps - sac-like growths consisting of inflamed tissue lining the nose (nasal mucosa) or sinuses.

Throat health

Common throat conditions include tonsillitis, hoarseness or voice disorders and conditions affecting your salivary glands.

Tonsillitis affects the throat, and it is an inflammation of the tonsils, caused by viruses or bacteria.
The tonsils are located on either side of the throat at the back of the mouth, and are a part of the immune system. If acute tonsillitis occurs very often, or if chronic tonsil infection develops, surgical removal of the tonsils (tonsillectomy) may be required to eradicate the infection.

Hoarseness (Dysphonia) - voice disorders can have a huge impact on the quality of your life. Communication with your family and voice change may be the first sign of a more serious underlying medical condition, such as a cancer of the throat, or even a chest problem. Any voice change that lasts for more than three weeks should be investigated with an examination of your voice box.

A number of disorders may affect the major salivary glands, including infection/inflammation (sialadenitis), tumours, and generalised painless enlargement (sialadenosis).

Find out more

Speak to your Fono GP about checking your ears, nose and/or throat if you have any symptoms relating to any of these areas.

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