Know your symptoms: when blocked ears or a sore throat get serious

There is a wide range of symptoms linked to problems with the ears, nose or throat. Many of them will just indicate a temporary problem that will either clear up as a matter of course or may require a prescription from your local GP, but when do ENT symptoms signify something more serious?

The list of ear, nose and throat symptoms is considerable and we've all suffered from them at one time or another, particularly if under the weather as a result of seasonal allergies or cold and flu. Common ENT symptoms can include:

  • watering or itching eyes
  • dizziness
  • headaches
  • sneezing or runny nose
  • itchy nose
  • nosebleeds
  • ear ache
  • blocked ears
  • ringing or buzzing sounds
  • sore throat
  • jaw pain
  • sore or swollen neck
  • snoring
  • coughs
  • fever
  • sinus pain
  • congestion
  • hearing loss

When does an ENT problem become serious?

ENT surgeons treat and manage conditions relating to the ear, nose and throat. Whilst unusual, some conditions or diseases can be very serious. Even more common, easily-resolved ENT problems can have life-altering consequences if they are not treated or managed effectively at an early stage.

If you have a consultation, the first step will be to discuss your symptoms in detail as these will be used as a basis for any further investigations and diagnosis. It is important to record any and all symptoms you have suffered from recently, even if you do not think they are connected. 

The doctor can then determine whether your persistent hoarseness is due to a nasty throat infection or a sign of something more significant or whether your headaches may be the result of swollen sinuses or a more serious neurological condition that may require referral to other specialists.