When to See an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) Specialist From the Expert March 2, 2021 By: Matthew Brown, MD, FACS Does your nose seem to never stop running? Is your television becoming harder to hear? Are you experiencing pain or discomfort when you speak? These ear, nose and throat (ENT) symptoms may commonly accompany a cold or flu in the winter months. However, if these symptoms persist, get worse, or start to affect your quality of life, you should see an ENT specialist to get to the root of your issue. Nose and Sinus If you are constantly sniffling, sneezing and coughing without knowing why, you may have allergies. More than half of all Americans test positive for at least one allergen, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Allergies are common and easily controlled with an accurate diagnosis. The first step to diagnosis involves visiting a specialist for an exam to determine if your symptoms are caused by an allergy and, if so, to determine what triggers the allergy. From there, an appropriate treatment or clinical intervention will be recommended so you can avoid the allergic trigger which will help to eliminate or minimize symptoms. Treatments for allergies can include: controlling symptoms through over the counter medications or prescriptions, simply avoiding allergens, or immunotherapy to reintroduce your immunological tolerance (the antibodies launched by your immune system which cause a reaction) to a particular allergen. Ear When people think of hearing loss, they often believe it only affects seniors. But did you know that approximately 26 million Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 suffer from some form of noise-induced hearing loss? This can occur if you are exposed to a very high level of sound, such an explosion, or can occur over time if you are frequently exposed to loud music, power tools, or even car horns. Other risk factors that impact hearing loss include: sleep apnea, diabetes, tobacco products, use of ibuprofen and acetaminophen, and popping your ears. If you notice that your hearing isn’t quite what it used to be, don’t delay in getting it tested to determine the cause of the issue. Your hearing loss could be being impacted by something as small as ear wax build-up or an ear infection. If it is determined that hearing loss has occurred, this can be treated for the long-term through the prescription of hearing aids and steps can be taken to prevent future loss. Throat Voice problems usually include pain or discomfort when you speak or difficulty controlling the pitch, loudness, or quality of your voice. Anyone can develop a voice problem, but your risk is greatest if you are constantly putting a high demand on your vocal cords. Generally a voice problem is diagnosed through medical history and a physical exam. For many voice problems, resting your vocal cords is all that is needed. However, if you are finding that these common symptoms are persistent, it may be a sign of something more serious such as throat cancer. Throat cancer is a general term that applies to cancer that develops in the throat (pharyngeal cancer) or in the voice box (laryngeal cancer). More than 30,000 people in the US were diagnosed with throat cancer in 2018. Risk factors include: tobacco products, alcohol consumption, the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV), a diet lacking in fruits and vegetables, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). While experts are seeing a decline in throat cancer related to tobacco use, they are seeing a dramatic increase in throat cancers associated with HPV. If you are experiencing any issues with your ears, nose or throat, the experts at the Broadlawns ENT Clinic are here to help. From newborns to 100 year olds, our team is fully equipped to provide treatment and improve your quality of life. Located on the Broadlawns Main Campus, the Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 am to 4:00 pm. Appointments may be scheduled by calling (515) -282-7750. All forms of insurance, including Medicaid and Medicare, are accepted. Dr. Matthew Brown is American Board of Otolaryngology certified and specializes in medical and surgical treatment of ear, nose and throat disorders. He provides care in all areas of general otolaryngology which includes pediatric, sinus, allergy, head and neck surgery and advanced training in allergic ear, nose and throat disorders. Dr. Brown closed his private practice; Iowa Head & Neck, PC, at the end of 2020, and he, William Fanter, PA-C, Aaron Hahn, AuD and Courtney Thayer, AuD have all joined the medical staff at Broadlawns Medical Center.