When we consider medical emergencies, we may not immediately think of the ear, nose, or throat. ENT emergencies are some of the less common types of medical emergency but have the risk of being life-threatening all the same. Facial fractures, nose bleeds, and nasal fractures are among the most common. Epiglottitis and peritonsillar abscesses are forms of sore throat that are severe enough to require emergency treatment. Sudden changes in hearing may also indicate a visit to the ER is in order. Below we’ll explain a few of the most frequent ENT emergencies.
ENT Emergencies That Need Immediate Medical Care
- Sudden Hearing Loss – There are numerous reasons that you may suddenly experience difficulty hearing or loss of hearing altogether. Fluid or wax build-up in the ear is a common cause, but it may also point to nerve deafness. Dizziness, facial paralysis, and tinnitus (ringing ears) may accompany this loss of hearing. Taking steps to get care immediately improves the odds of a full recovery. Sudden loss of hearing means a quick visit to the Urgent Care or ER.
- Nosebleeds – Nosebleeds are a very common occurrence and don’t generally call for a visit to the Urgent Care or ER. They typically occur at the front of the nose and require little more than to pick the nostrils closed for 15 minutes to stop. If they persist longer than this, it’s time for a visit to the doctor’s office.
- Nasal Fractures – Nasal fractures stand out as the most common facial bone break. The eye socket, cheekbone, and jaw are other serious injuries that may occur. These call for a quick visit to the emergency room to ensure the injury isn’t life-threatening.
- Tonsils & Adenoids – While tonsillitis is rarely life-threatening, it does require medical treatment to overcome. Strep throat is another condition that requires antibiotics to defeat safely. Without this care, there is a risk of kidney and heart damage. Swollen tonsils may be treated with a tonsillectomy, especially if a peritonsillar abscess is present. This type of abscess occurs behind the tonsil, requiring emergency drainage and antibiotics.
- Breathing Problems – Difficulty breathing can be caused by any number of medical concerns, including influenza, pneumonia, heart failure, and pulmonary embolism. Another possible cause is the presence of tumors or foreign bodies in the airway, blocking the ability to breathe easily. If you’re experiencing unexplained difficulty with breathing, find your way to the emergency room or urgent care.
- Bell’s Palsy – This condition presents as one-sided facial paralysis. Inner ear infections, brain tumors, and strokes could all be potential diagnoses. Some forms of stroke are reversible if caught within 2-3 hours of their initial occurrence. The onset of any neurologic problem is caused for an immediate visit to the emergency room.
Speak To Your Physician Following Any Nasal Emergency
After any medical emergency, it’s important to follow up with your primary medical provider. They’ll be able to continue to observe any further symptoms and develop an appropriate treatment plan to address any lingering concerns. ENT emergencies may be rarer than other types, but it remains important to see your physician about them.