Seeing One Specialist for Ears, Nose & Throat
If you have ever been referred to a specialist, or many, you may have felt frustrated about having to make separate appointments, fill out additional paperwork, and reiterate the same information to more than one physician. In fact, it seems that there is a doctor for just about every condition and every body part. So, why is there only one specialist that treats our ears, nose, and throat collectively?
It certainly isn’t because this is a field with only a couple of potential conditions, or even a field with a low volume of patients. There are many conditions that can occur in each of these body parts alone, and most people do end up seeing an ENT specialist at least once in their lifetime.
The reason that these specialists are extensively trained in the anatomy and conditions of all three of these areas is because these areas of our body are highly connected. It is possible for an individual to feel that their symptoms are primarily in their ear, but their nose or throat also is experiencing some changes. Since ear, nose, and throat physicians specialize in all of these areas, they can make an accurate diagnosis.
The Eustachian Tubes
The Eustachian tubes are critical structures that connect our ears to our throat. These tubes are small, mucous-lined passageways that begin near the top of our throat and connect to our middle ear. These passageways serve many functions, including maintaining fluid amounts, which affects our balance. Additionally, there are tiny bones within these passageways that help conduct sound waves. Since these passageways are tiny, they can become clogged or otherwise malfunction. If this occurs, there will likely be pain in the ears, which can progress to a sore-throat if untreated.
The Nose & Throat Connection
If you have ever experienced a severe cold or sinus infection, the connection between your nose and throat may seem more obvious than the connection between your ears and throat. Even if you know that a connection does exist between these two structures, you may wonder how exactly this works. The nose is made up of two canals which both have openings at the back that connect to the top of the throat, or nasopharynx. The throat includes this nasopharynx, the upper-most section that is behind our nose, the oropharynx, or the middle section that is behind our mouth, and the laryngopharynx, which holds our voice box.
Since there is a fairly large connection between our nose and throat, any bacteria or mucous that is our nose can reach our throats with relative ease. Additionally, our noses include openings to several sinus pockets that produce mucous. When these pockets become full, this can cause excessive drainage to enter our throats, or pressure to build up in our ears because of the close proximity of these structures.