Ear, Nose and Throat Emergencies are rare, but can be life-threatening. The most common emergencies are nosebleeds and facial fractures, especially nose fractures. Peritonsillar abscess and epiglottitis are two severe types of sore throat that may require emergency treatment. Sudden changes in hearing, or any other neurologic event should be evaluated immediately.
Sudden Hearing Loss
Sudden hearing loss could be as simple as wax or fluid in the ear, or it may represent nerve deafness. Hearing loss may be associated with ringing in the ears, dizziness or even facial paralysis. Early intervention improves the chance of recovery. If you have unexplained sudden hearing loss, see your physician immediately.
Nosebleeds are common and usually self-limited. Most occur at the front of the nose and can be controlled by pinching the nostrils together firmly for 15 minutes.
Nasal fractures are the most common broken bone in the face. More serious injuries can involve the jaw, cheekbone or eye socket. Many facial injuries do require an emergency room evaluation to exclude serious injury.
Tonsils & Adenoids
Tonsillitis can be a medical emergency. Strept throat requires immediate antibiotic treatment to reduce the risk of permanent heart and kidney damage. Bleeding may occur following tonsillectomy, requiring urgent intervention. A Peritonsillar abscess is a collection of pus behind one tonsil. Emergency drainage and antibiotics are usually recommended.
Breathing problems can occur from a variety of problems, including influenza, asthma, pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, heart failure, foreign bodies and tumors or other obstructions of the airway. If you have sudden onset of a new or unexplained breathing difficulty, call your established physician or go immediately to the emergency room.
Bell’s Palsy is the unexplained sudden onset of one-sided facial paralysis. The potential diagnoses include strokes, brain tumors and inner ear infections. Certain types of stroke can be reversed if treated within 2-3 hours of onset. If you have sudden onset of any neurologic problem, call 911 and go directly to the closest qualified emergency room.