Laryngology (Throat, Voice & Swallowing)

Diseases & Medical Conditions of the Throat

The Throat is a tubular structure that begins at the back of your mouth and transports air to the Trachea (Wind-pipe) and Larynx (Voice box). The throat also delivers the food to Oesophagus which is connected to the stomach. Throat contains Epiglottis which prevents the inhalation of the food and drink, back into the windpipe and lungs.

The Throat is considered as an integral part of the Human body as it works on delivering the food to the stomach, which is required for growth and development of the human body. When infection occurs in the throat, it becomes the major concern. Diseases of the throat lead to difficulty in speech and eating resulting in general weakness.

Most of the throat diseases affect the children than the adults. Ear, Nose and Throat surgeons in India describes the most common infections affecting the children are a Sore throat, Tonsillitis, Pharyngitis, Oral candidiasis and Mouth ulcers. Some diseases like Oral cancer and Oral Candidiasis are seen in immune- compromised patients. Throat symptoms vary depending on the causation and the severity depends on the disease or disorder. It is always advised to approach an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist as early as possible and get treated effectively.

Tonsillitis

Tonsillitis is the infection or inflammation of the tonsils. It is roughly estimated that nearly 7.5% of the populace suffering from recurrent Tonsillitis, and the frequency of the same is about every 3 months once. It is most common in school going children and occurs mostly during winter seasons.

Causes of tonsillitis The main causes of tonsillitis are persistent cold, viral, and bacterial infections, and allergies. If the cause is the bacteria Streptococcus A, then the disease is termed as ‘Strep Throat’.

Symptoms of tonsillitis The main signs and symptoms of tonsillitis are body ache, fever, general weakness, sore throat, red swollen tonsils; bad breathe and stomach pain mainly in children’s, difficulty in swallowing food or liquids, white pus-filled spots on the tonsils, and inflammation in the lymph nodes on the neck.

Treatment for tonsillitis Gargling using hot salt-water is the best remedy; along with this, the patient can also take mild analgesics. On repeated infections of tonsils in a person then the ENT specialist may advise Tonsillectomy. As far as the condition of ‘Strep throat’ is concerned, doctors generally prescribe oral medication of penicillin, and if the patient is allergic to penicillin, then doctors might advise equivalent substitutes such as ‘Cephalosporin’.

Pharyngitis

This medical condition is characterized by the inflammation of the Pharynx and generally called as ‘Sore throat’ and together with cough; it is diagnosed in more than 2 million people per year in India. It is more common in the winter season.

Causes of pharyngitis The most common causes of ‘Pharyngitis’ are viral and other bacterial agents such as measles, adenovirus, chicken pox, croup and whooping cough and streptococcus A.

Symptoms of pharyngitis The commonly seen symptoms of ‘Pharyngitis’ are a Sore throat, difficulty in swallowing, sneezing, runny nose, chills, red swollen throat, fever, general weakness, and cough.

Treatment for pharyngitis Many symptoms do not require medication. It requires rest, warm salt water gargling and using a humidifier. Sometimes, doctors prescribe analgesics to control the pain and irritation. In cases of strep A infection, antibiotics are prescribed. It is self-limiting.

Oral Candidiasis

This throat condition is very much common in people who suffer from HIV and Leukemia. It is the fungal infection of Candida albicans that grows on the mucous membrane of the mouth. This condition is also termed as ‘oral thrush’.

Causes of oral candidiasis: This medical condition is caused by the fungi called ‘Candida Albicans’, and most commonly known as fungal infection of the throat. The causal factors of oral candidiasis are nutritional deficiencies, decreased production of saliva, dentures and oral cancer.

Symptoms of oral candidiasis The indications may vary in accordance with the severity of the condition. Acute symptoms – You may notice infection of gums, reddening of the tongue and cracks at the corners of the mouth.

Chronic symptoms – Chronic symptoms of oral candidiasis are seen in Immunocompromised patients such as HIV and Leukaemia. Symptoms include hard rough plaques and white patches on the tongue also known as curdled milk or cottage cheese. Here symptoms last for more than a month.

Treatment for oral candidiasis Acute symptoms are self-limiting and may require antifungal drugs. For chronic conditions immediate consultation with an ENT doctor is imperative.

Mumps

- This medical condition of throat occurs mainly in children. The medical term is ‘epidemic parotitis’ and is contagious by nature. It is an air borne infection or caused by direct contact with infected person. Once the infection has runs its course, the person is immune for the rest of his life. Reinfections of mumps are mild and minimal.

Causes of mumps - The causal factors of mumps is usually an infection involving one or both Parotid Salivary glands. It is caused by a virus commonly known as Mumps Virus. The virus is transmitted via respiratory droplets during Sneeze or Cough in children.

Symptoms of mumps Signs & Symptoms of mumps starts after 16-18 days of exposure. It includes painful swelling parotid salivary glands, fever, and muscle pain, loss of appetite, headache and tiredness.

Complications of mumps In some cases, the disease can lead to further complications like ‘brain infections’, ‘permanent deafness’, and ‘painful swelling of testicles’ in men and swelling of the ovaries in women and pancreatitis.

Treatment for mumps Doctors usually advise the local application of ice or heat on the affected part, analgesics, warm salt water gargle, soft food, and liquid diet, ample rest and avoiding acidic foods as it causes pain in the salivary glands.

Prevention of Mumps It is possible to prevent getting ‘Mumps’ by taking the precaution of MMR vaccine. This is usually taken between the ages of 12 and 15 months as a routine visit to the pediatrician. MMR vaccine includes the vaccine for ‘Measles’ and ‘Rubella’ also.

Oral Cancer

This medical condition is commonly called as Mouth cancer, Oral cancer usually involves the base of the tongue, larynx and Pharynx. Cancerous tissue can grow in any tissue in the oral cavity or may spread to other involving tissues in nasal cavity depending on the severity and prognosis of the disease, the cancerous cells tend to grow quickly.It occurs mostly in people who are above 40yrs and the incidence is higher in men.

Causes of oral cancer The common causes of oral cancer are avoidable, harmful personal habits such as chewing of tobacco or smoking, drinking, and intimate body contacts like oral sex. Symptoms of oral cancer – The common signs and symptoms of oral cancer are hoarseness of the voice, Lump in the neck, difficulty swallowing, lockjaw, mouth ulcers that do not heal quickly, loose teeth, sore throat and unexplained weight loss.

Diagnosis of Oral Cancer It is apparent that if detected early, oral cancer can be effectively checked and controlled. Early detection is also helpful for effective treatments. Competent ENT surgeons and the Dentists can easily detect the early stages of oral cancer. Hence, whenever you come across a lesion or lump in the oral cavity, get a specialist opinion. Medical tests such as the ‘Tissue Biopsy’, ‘MRI’, and ‘CT’ scans will be also of use in analyzing the case.

Treatment for Oral Cancer The treatment will vary in line with the severity of the case. The usual treatments include ‘radiotherapy’, ‘surgery’ for removing the cancer cells, and ‘chemotherapy’.

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