We provide specialized ear, nose and throat care for adult and pediatric patients
The comprehensive otolaryngologists at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center provide expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of infectious, inflammatory and neoplastic conditions affecting the ears, nose, throat, head and neck.
Also known as general otolaryngologists, comprehensive otolaryngologists do not limit their scope of practice to one portion of the head and neck, allowing them to treat a broad range of conditions—from simple to severe, at any age of life. Conditions evaluated by these physicians include neck masses, thyroid and parathyroid disorders, salivary gland disorders, tonsil problems, voice and swallowing disorders, nasal obstruction, sleep apnea, chronic rhinosinusitis and hearing loss.
Comprehensive otolaryngologists frequently serve as a link between patients and other specialists within the medical center. Many patients experiencing ear, nose or throat issues will meet with an otolaryngologist first for symptom assessment and investigation. This meeting allows for shorter patient wait-times and can also initiate necessary labs, imaging studies and other tests to diagnose the problem.
After a work-up of the problem is established, patients may continue to receive medical or surgical treatment from the otolaryngologist. A patient may also be referred to another specialist within the Otolaryngology Department for additional evaluation or management of more complex issues.
General ENT Conditions
General ENT Conditions
Chronic ear infections
A chronic ear infection is more common in children than adults. It is marked by fluid, infection or swelling in the back of the eardrum. A chronic ear infection will often return, not heal or cause lasting damage to the ear.
Signs your child has a chronic ear infection:
- Ear pain and/or pressure
- Irritability or crying more than usual
- Fluid draining from the ear
- Hearing problems or loss
- Low-grade fever
These symptoms can come and go or last a long time. Sometimes symptoms can be difficult to detect, which can delay treatment. Bacterial ear infections may be treated with antibiotics. Surgery may be needed to remove tissue that has gathered inside the ear or to correct other issues. Chronic ear infections in children may require that they have special small tubes inserted in their ears to relieve pressure and restore hearing.
Tonsils are located on top of the throat in the back of the mouth. They help prevent infection in the body by filtering germs like bacteria. When you have a bacterial or viral infection, the tonsils can become inflamed, which is called tonsillitis. It’s common for children to get tonsillitis, and strep throat is usually to blame.
Repeat infections can lead to enlargement and chronic inflammation, which can create:
- Breathing problems
- Swallowing problems
- Sleeping disorders
Those who suffer from chronic tonsillitis can benefit greatly from a tonsillectomy, which is a procedure to remove the tonsils.
Facial nerve diseases and paralysis
Certain diseases can lead to facial nerve disorders. For example, a viral infection is believed to be the cause of Bell’s palsy, which is the most common type of facial paralysis. Nerve diseases, like trigeminal neuralgia, which usually creates chronic facial pain, spasms and trouble with eye or facial movement, can be caused by tumors or multiple sclerosis.
Treatment options include medicines, surgery and other techniques.
Source: NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Anything that stops air from entering or exiting either nostril is a nasal obstruction. This obstruction can be caused by a sinus condition, medication or physiological issue, like inflamed adenoids, a deviated septum, turbinate hypertrophy, a foreign object or polyps. Many types of obstruction are temporary, but in some cases where the cause is physiological, surgery may be required.Learn more
Nasal polyps are growths of soft tissue in the nose or sinuses and develop as a result of chronic irritation and inflammation from allergies, asthma or infection. Small polyps usually don’t create any significant problems or symptoms. Large polyps can lead to a sinus infection by blocking airways and sinuses. Medicine can help, but surgery is usually required to remove nasal polyps.Learn more
Obstructive sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is a common disorder that causes your breathing to stop or become very shallow. Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. Pauses may occur 30 times or more an hour. The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea. It occurs when your airway collapses or becomes blocked during sleep.Learn more
Oral mucosal disorders
Salivary gland disorders
Your salivary glands make saliva, which helps you chew, swallow and digest food. They also clean your mouth and contain antibodies that can kill germs. Problems with salivary glands can cause the glands to become irritated and swollen. This causes symptoms such as:
- Bad taste in the mouth
- Difficulty opening your mouth
- Dry mouth
- Pain in the face or mouth
- Swelling of the face or neck
Causes of salivary gland problems include infections, obstruction, benign growths or cancer. Problems can also be due to other disorders, such as mumps or Sjogren’s syndrome.
Antibiotic treatment usually eliminates infection and restores salivary gland function. The condition may go away on its own or require other treatment depending on the cause.
Smell and taste disorders
People with taste disorders may taste things that aren’t there, may not be able to tell the difference in tastes or can’t taste at all. People with smell disorders may lose their sense of smell, or things may smell different. A smell they once enjoyed may now smell bad to them.
Many illnesses and injuries can cause taste and smell disorders, including colds and head injuries. Some drugs can also affect taste and smell. Most people lose some ability to taste and smell as they get older. Treatment varies depending on the problem and its cause.
Source: NIH: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
NIH: National Institute on Aging
If you have a swallowing disorder, you may have difficulty or pain when swallowing. Some people cannot swallow at all. Others may have trouble swallowing liquids, food or saliva. This makes it hard to eat. Often, it can be difficult to take in enough calories and fluids to nourish your body. Anyone can have a swallowing disorder, but it is more likely in the elderly.Learn more
Swimmer's ear (chronic otitis externa)
Swimmer’s ear, also known as otitis externa, is infection, inflammation or irritation of the outer ear and ear canal. Bacteria found in unsanitary water is usually the cause for swimmer’s ear, although it can also be caused by an obstruction or scratch in the ear.
Swimmer’s ear can be long-term (chronic) when you have an allergic reaction to something you’re putting in your ear or if you have psoriasis, eczema or other ongoing skin conditions.
Symptoms of swimmer’s ear include:
- Green or yellow fluid drainage from the ear
- Hearing loss
Treatments may include:
- Acetic or antibiotic ear drops
- Anti-inflammatory/anti-itch corticosteroids
- Oral antibiotics (with a middle ear infection)
- Pain relievers
Tonsillar and adenoidal enlargement (hypertrophy)
Tonsils and adenoids are part of your lymphatic system. Tonsils are in the back of your throat. Adenoids are higher up, behind your nose. Both help protect you from infection by trapping germs coming in through your mouth and nose.
Sometimes your tonsils and adenoids become infected. Tonsillitis makes your tonsils sore and swollen and causes a sore throat. Enlarged adenoids can be sore, make it hard to breathe and cause ear problems.
The first treatment for infected tonsils and adenoids is antibiotics. If you have frequent infections or trouble breathing, you may need surgery. Surgery to remove the tonsils is tonsillectomy. Surgery to remove adenoids is adenoidectomy.
In your larynx, also known as the voice box, are two bands of muscle that vibrate to make sound. These are your vocal cords. Talking too much, screaming, constantly clearing your throat or smoking can injure vocal cords and make you hoarse. This can also lead to nodules, polyps and sores on the vocal cords. Most voice problems can be successfully treated when diagnosed early. Treatment for voice disorders varies depending on the cause.