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Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT)

Get TRUE Care for your ear, nose, and throat.

Wilmington Health otolaryngologists, commonly referred to as ENT physicians, are physicians certified in the medical and surgical management and treatment of diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, throat, and related structures of the head and neck. Our ENT team treats patients of all ages.

Our special skills include diagnosing and managing diseases of the ears, sinuses, voice box, mouth, throat, and structures in the neck and face of children and adults.

Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) Services

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What We Treat

Learn about our treatments and surgeries.

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Ultrasound and Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) Biopsy Services

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Wilmington Health Allergy Care & Immunotherapy Team

Allergy Care and Immunotherapy

Why you should choose an ENT for your allergy needs.

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Offending Allergens

Learn how you can decrease exposure to offending allergens.

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Learn about special information regarding immunotherapy.

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Find out how you can refer your patient to Wilmington Health’s Ear, Nose and Throat department.

Learn More about Referrals

Dizziness and Vertigo


It’s not unusual to get dizzy from certain activities such as riding on a carousel. But dizziness or vertigo can also indicate a problem in the system that helps us maintain our balance. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) says this system is complex, involving the brain, the ears, the eyes, as well as the muscles and joints. (Read about “The Ear and Hearing” “The Eye“) If something goes wrong in any part of this system, it can lead to a sense of imbalance, unsteadiness or spinning. The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) says that dizziness describes a sense of imbalance, while vertigo describes a sense of imbalance with spinning.

Here’s how our sense of balance works. Whenever we move, sensory input from our eyes, our muscles and our joints is sent to the brain by the peripheral nervous system (Read about “The Brain” “Nervous System“), telling us that we’ve moved in a particular way. The brain interprets this information, along with cues from the vestibular system and helps our bodies adjust so that we keep our balance. The vestibular system consists of three semicircular canals within the inner ear. They contain a fluid called endolymph that moves in response to head movement. There are also patches of special nerve cells called hair cells as well as tiny calcium stones called otoconia. When you move your head or stand up, the hair cells are bent by the displacement of the otoconia or movement of the endolymph. This bending of the hair cells transmits an electrical signal about head movement to the brain. This signal travels to the brain along the eighth cranial nerve, which is the nerve involved in balance and hearing. The brain recognizes the signal as a particular movement of the head and is able to use this information to help maintain balance.

Ménière’s disease, acoustic neuroma, BPPV, labyrinthitis and other causes

Dizziness or vertigo can occur when sensory information is distorted. For example, when someone reads while riding in a car, the inner ear senses the movement of the vehicle, but their eyes see only the book, which is not moving. The resulting sensory conflict may lead to the typical symptoms of motion sickness. (Read about “Motion Sickness“)

But sometimes, dizziness has no apparent cause and it does not go away. NIDCD says a number of conditions can lead to dizziness or vertigo. They include:

  • Ménière’s disease – AAO-HNS says this condition is associated with fluid buildup in the inner ear. First identified in the 1800’s, it can occur along with hearing loss and tinnitus. (Read about “Hearing Loss” “Tinnitus“) Episodes are sudden and can last from several minutes to several hours. Hearing loss may be restricted to one ear and can be severe. Patients sometimes feel fullness or discomfort in the ear and may be sensitive to loud sounds. Treatment can include antihistamines, low-salt diet, diuretics and/or antibiotics. (Read about “Sodium” “Antibiotics“) Surgery may be needed as well. AAO-HNS suggests that people with Ménière’s avoid caffeine, smoking and alcohol, get regular sleep and avoid both excessive stress and fatigue, as much as possible. (Read about “Quit Smoking” “Sleep” “Stress“)
  • Acoustic neuroma / vestibular schwannoma – This condition is a slow-growing noncancerous tumor on the acoustic nerve. (Read about “Brain Tumors“) In addition to loss of balance, it can also lead to hearing loss and tinnitus. (Read about “Hearing Loss” “Tinnitus“) Vestibular schwannomas can also press on the facial nerve, causing facial weakness or paralysis on the side of the tumor. According to the Acoustic Neuroma Association (ANA), an acoustic neuroma can also be described as a neurilemoma, neurolemmoma or schwannoma. ANA says most of the time the cause is unknown but it can be caused by neurofibromatosis (NF), particularly the form called NF2. (Read about “Neurofibromatosis“) NIDCD says the three options for treating acoustic neuroma include surgical removal, radiation and monitoring. (Read about “Radiation Therapy“)
  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) – In BPPV, tiny particles called canaliths may collect in the canals of the inner ear and push fluids against the hair cells. Patients may notice intense bursts of dizziness when they move their head in a particular way, for example when looking up, or when first getting out of bed. In addition to dizziness, there may also be lightheadedness, nausea and tiredness. NIDCD says its unclear how these calcium carbonate crystals cause BPPV, although it may be related to an inner ear infection, head injury (Read about “Head Injury“), or aging. BPPV can sometimes go away on its own, or it can occur for months or years. Physical therapy (Read about “Rehabilitation“) can help patients to relieve symptoms. There is also a procedure called the canalith repositioning procedure. This procedure is initially performed by the patient with a trained therapist or doctor, and consists of several simple head maneuvers. According to the American Academy of Neurology, these maneuvers – done correctly – can move the canaliths to a part of your ear where they won’t cause dizziness.
  • Labyrinthitis – This refers to an inflammation of the part of the inner ear called the labyrinth. In addition to loss of balance, there can also be hearing loss and tinnitus. (Read about “Hearing Loss” “Tinnitus“) The exact cause is unknown. However, the inflammation can often follow an infection, either viral or bacterial. (Read about “Microorganisms“) A viral infection can develop following an upper respiratory infection (Read about “Influenza” “The Common Cold“) and may go away on its own. NIDCD says bacterial infections are more likely to cause permanent damage and require treatment. Treatment options include vestibular suppressants to reduce symptoms such as nausea, as well as rehabilitation exercises.


The National Institutes of Health say dizziness may also be a sign of a “silent stroke” or transient ischemic attack (TIA). TIA’s, which result from a temporary lack of blood supply to the brain, may also cause transient numbness, tingling or weakness in a limb or on one side of the face. Other signs include temporary blindness and difficulty with speech. These symptoms should not be ignored. If a TIA is ignored, a major stroke may follow. (Read about “Stroke“)

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) says other physical conditions that can cause dizziness include anemia, high blood pressure, diabetes, head injury and reduced blood flow to the brain resulting from atherosclerosis. (Read about “Anemia” “Hypertension: High Blood Pressure” “Diabetes” “Head Injury” “Vascular System” “Arteriosclerosis & Atherosclerosis“) NINDS says neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease may also cause dizziness, primarily during walking. However, dizziness is rarely the sole symptom of these nervous system diseases. (Read about “Multiple Sclerosis” “Alzheimer’s Disease” “Parkinson’s Disease” “Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease“)

Vertigo can also be caused by a variety of drugs including aspirin, antibiotics, caffeine, alcohol, drugs to treat high blood pressure, tranquilizers, sedatives and many others. If you develop vertigo while taking medication, contact your doctor, but don’t stop medications suddenly on your own. (Read about “Medicine Safety“)

Diagnosis and treatment

Because there are so many potential causes of vertigo, diagnosis can be complicated. NIDCD says an otolaryngologist (a physician/surgeon who specializes in diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, throat, head and neck) can help to evaluate a balance problem. Diagnostic tests include a hearing examination, blood tests, audiogram, and an electronystagmogram (ENG) which is a test of the vestibular system, as well as imaging studies of the head and brain such as CT scan or MRI. (Read about “Laboratory Testing” “CT Scan – Computerized Tomography” “MRI – Magnetic Resonance Imaging“)

NIDCD has the following suggestions, if someone is seeing a doctor because of a problem with dizziness:

  • Bring a written list of symptoms and when they started
  • Bring a list of medications currently being used
  • Be specific when you describe the nature of your symptoms to your doctor. For example, describe how, when and where you experience dizziness

Treatment depends on the cause of the vertigo. If a bacterial infection is present, antibiotics can be used. (Read about “Antibiotics“) Other medications may be prescribed as well. Patients may be advised to avoid movements or positions that trigger vertigo.

Physical therapy can also used to treat certain balance disorders. Conditions, such as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo and Ménière’s disease are candidates for such therapy. The Vestibular Disorders Association (VDA) says the goal is to retrain the brain to filter out confusing information from the inner ear and to use appropriate information, combined with other senses, such as seeing to diminish or eliminate symptoms. (Read about “Rehabilitation“) For benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, there is also a type of therapy called the canalith repositioning procedure, which consists of supervised head maneuvers designed to reposition the small particles that are causing the vertigo. Labyrinthitis may improve with vestibular suppressant medication and rehabilitation exercises. Ménière’s disease is often treated with a low-salt diet and diuretics.

In instances where vertigo persists for over a year and can’t be controlled by other means, surgery may be advised. Again, vertigo is a complex condition, so make sure you discuss all your options with your physician.

Related Information:

    The Ear and Hearing

    Noise and Hearing

    Speech/Hearing/Smell/Taste Glossary

All Concept Communications material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.

© Concept Communications Media Group LLC

Online health topics reviewed/modified in 2021 | Terms of Use/Privacy Policy

Disorders of the Head and Neck

Otolaryngology or otorhinolaryngology are long words that refer to the study and treatment of conditions affecting the head and neck. A doctor who treats these disorders is called an otolaryngologist. These doctors are commonly referred to as ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists. Otolaryngologists diagnose and manage diseases of the ears, nose, sinuses, mouth, throat and larynx (voice box), as well as related parts of the neck and face.

They treat conditions that affect how you breathe, smell, taste, hear, swallow and much more. They also can perform plastic surgery for conditions that affect the appearance of the face. (Read about “Hearing/Speech/Smell/Taste Glossary” “Plastic Surgery“)

Below you can learn about some of the conditions that an otolaryngologist treats.

Acoustic neuroma: see Balance Disorders
Adenoids: see Tonsils & Adenoids
Allergies: see Allergies
Animal dander: see Animal Dander
Balance disorders: see Balance Disorders
Barrett’s esophagus: see Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV): see Balance Disorders
Cleft lip: see Cleft Lip & Cleft Palate
Cleft palate: see Cleft Lip & Cleft Palate
Common cold: see The Common Cold
Craniofacial disorders: see Craniofacial Disorders
Croup: see Croup
Dizziness: see Balance Disorders
Dry Mouth: see Oral Health
Dust allergies: see Dust Allergies
Ear: see The Ear & Hearing
Earache: see Earache
Esophagus cancer: see Esophagus Cancer
Food allergies: see Food Allergies
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): see Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Head and neck cancers: see Head and Neck Cancers
Headaches: see Headaches
Hearing: see The Ear & Hearing
Hearing loss: see Hearing Loss
Hypopharyngeal cancer: see Head and Neck Cancers
Labyrinthitis: see Balance Disorders
Laryngeal cancer: see Head and Neck Cancers
Laryngitis: see Vocal Problems
Ménière’s disease: see Balance Disorders
Metastatic squamous neck cancer with occult primary: see Head and Neck Cancers
Mold allergies: see Mold Allergies
Noise damage: see Noise & Hearing
Oral cancer: see Oral Cancer
Oropharyngeal cancer: see Head and Neck Cancers
Otitis externa: see Otitis Externa
Otitis media: see Otitis Media
Otosclerosis: see Hearing Loss
Paranasal sinus and nasal cavity cancer: see Head and Neck Cancers
Parathyroid glands: see Parathyroid Glands
Periodontal disease: see Oral Health
Pollen allergies: see Pollen Allergies
Presbycusis: see Hearing Loss
Rhinitis: see Sinusitis and Rhinitis
Ruptured eardrum: see Ruptured Eardrum
Salivary cancer: see Head and Neck Cancers
Sinus headache: see Headaches
Sinusitis: see Sinusitis and Rhinitis
Sleep apnea: see Sleep
Snoring: see Sleep
Sore throat: see Sore Throat & Strep Throat
Strep throat: see Sore Throat & Strep Throat
Thyroid: see Thyroid
Thyroid cancer: see Thyroid Cancer
Tinnitus: see Tinnitus
Tonsils: see Tonsils & Adenoids
Vertigo: see Balance Disorders
Vocal polyps and nodules: see Vocal Problems
Vocal problems: see Vocal Problems

All Concept Communications material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.

© Concept Communications Media Group LLC

Online health topics reviewed/modified in 2021 | Terms of Use/Privacy Policy


Nose, Mouth, Neck

The thyroid is a small, butterfly shaped gland in the front of your neck. It produces hormones that affect your body’s metabolism (how your body converts oxygen and calories to energy). That means the thyroid affects many functions that keep us healthy. Problems result when the thyroid produces either too much or too little hormone. Too much is called hyperthyroidism, too little is called hypothyroidism. The thyroid can also develop growths (nodules) or cancer. Below you’ll find information on all these conditions.


Hypothyroidism is too little thyroid hormone. It affects some 5 million people according to Thyroid Society for Education and Research (TSER). One in 4,000 babies is born with hypothyroidism. If not treated, it results in mental and physical retardation. All newborns in the United States are supposed to be tested for the condition. (Read about “Newborn Screenings“)

Causes of hypothyroidism include:

  • Hashimoto’s disease – the most common cause of hypothyroidism, according to Thyroid Foundation of America (TFA), is Hashimoto’s disease. This is an autoimmune disease (Read about “The Immune System“) in which the immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland. It is also called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Thyroiditis is inflammation of the thyroid gland. There is some evidence that Hashimoto’s disease can have a hereditary link. The National Women’s Health Information Center (NWHIC) also says it is the most common thyroid disease in the U.S. The Turner Syndrome Society says this happens frequently to women with Turner syndrome. (Read about “Turner Syndrome“)
  • thyroiditis – in addition to Hashimoto’s disease, other less common forms of thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid) can result in hypothyroidism
  • surgery or other treatment such as radiation that damages or removes the thyroid (Read about “Radiation Therapy“)
  • lack of iodine in the diet that results in a goiter or a swelling of the gland
  • the natural aging process
  • viral or bacterial infections (Read about “Microorganisms“)

Some of the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism according to AAFP, TSER and TFA include:

Too little thyroid hormone can also impact a woman’s menstrual cycle and a number of other things too, says TFA. For example, it can affect cholesterol levels (Read about “Cholesterol“) which in turn can result in other health problems such as heart disease. (Read about “Coronary Heart Disease“) In addition, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) warns women approaching menopause (Read about “Menopause“) that thyroid symptoms sometimes mirror symptoms of menopause. AACE says that women who think they are having perimenopausal or menopausal signs should raise the issue of thyroid disease with their doctor.

Once again, one sign is probably nothing to worry about according to TSER, but if you have concerns, it is important that you see your doctor.

Thyroid problems are often diagnosed with blood tests. (Read about “Laboratory Testing“) Tests can be done to measure the amount of thyroid hormones, as well as the amount of hormone (TSH) produced by the pituitary gland to stimulate the thyroid. Tests can also check for the presence of antibodies. A test can also be done to measure how much iodine is taken up by the thyroid gland. Once the cause is figured out, treatment can be started. With hypothyroidism, the problem can sometimes go away on its own. If it’s caused by an infection, treating the infection can solve the problem. Hormone medication can also be used to replace the thyroid hormone. That – combined with blood tests – can then keep the problem regulated.


Hyperthyroidism is when the body basically speeds up; too much thyroid hormone is being produced. This can happen for a number of reasons, including:

Graves’ disease – The most common causes of hyperthyroidism, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), is a condition called Graves’ disease. Graves’ disease is a type of autoimmune disease that causes over-activity of the thyroid gland. An autoimmune disease occurs when the body’s immune system becomes misdirected and attacks the body’s own organs, cells, or tissues. (Read about “The Immune System“) The National Women’s Health Information Center (NWHIC) says Graves’ disease affects 2 percent of all women at some time in their lives, most often between the ages of 20 and 40. It also is considered a genetic disease that runs in families. (Read about “Genetics“) Graves’ disease is associated with swelling of the tissue around the eyes and bulging of the eyes. Symptoms of this disease can occur slowly or very suddenly and are sometimes confused with other medical problems. Graves’ disease can also produce no visible symptoms at all.

Thyroiditis – Hyperthyroidism can also be caused by some forms of thyroiditis, which is an inflammation of the thyroid gland. For example, a type of thyroiditis called subacute thyroiditis, which may be caused by a viral infection, can cause a temporary increase in the amount of hormone produced by the thyroid.

Pregnancy – Hyperthyroidism can also develop after pregnancy. (Read about “Healthy Pregnancy“) Postpartum thyroiditis is basically a swelling of the thyroid that occurs in 5-7 percent of women who give birth, and can cause temporarily high levels of thyroid hormone.

Nodules – Some nodules or adenomas can secrete too much hormone, leading to hyperthyroidism. (See thyroid nodules below)

As with all thyroid diseases, hyperthyroidism is more common in women than men, according to the Thyroid Society for Education and Research (TSER). Too much thyroid hormone can affect a woman’s menstrual cycle (Read about “Menstrual Disorders“) and cause calcium (Read about “Calcium“) loss from your bones resulting in osteoporosis (Read about “Osteoporosis“), according to the Thyroid Foundation of America (TFA).

Some of the signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism according to AAFP, TSER and TFA include:

  • fast heart rate
  • elevated blood pressure (Read about “Hypertension: High Blood Pressure“)
  • nervousness or irritability
  • sweating (Read about “Sweating“)
  • weak muscles (Read about Endocrine Myopathies in “Neuromuscular Diseases“)
  • hands shaking
  • losing weight even though you are eating as much if not more
  • hair loss
  • skin and fingernail changes
  • increased bowel movements
  • goiter or a swelling of the neck
  • in women, decreased and less frequent menstrual flow (Read about “Menstrual Disorders“)
  • in men, slight swelling of the breasts

Just one of these symptoms does not mean you have hyperthyroidism according to TSER, but two or more, or different ones at different times, are a sign you should see your doctor.

Thyroid problems are often diagnosed with blood tests. (Read about “Laboratory Testing“) Tests can be done to measure the amount of thyroid hormones, as well as the amount of hormone (TSH) produced by the pituitary gland to stimulate the thyroid. Tests can also check for the presence of antibodies. A test can also be done to measure how much iodine is taken up by the thyroid gland. Once the cause is figured out, treatment can be started. For hyperthyroidism, there are multiple options. TFA says there are four main therapies for hyperthyroidism:

  • Antithyroid drugs have been in use since the 1940’s and are often successful.
  • Radioactive iodine can be used to destroy some thyroid tissue. The reminder may still be overactive but because there is less tissue, less thyroid hormone is produced.
  • Surgery can be used to remove all or part of the thyroid, with the same result as with radioactive iodine. If all of the thyroid is removed, thyroid medication may be required to replace the missing thyroid hormone.
  • Beta-blocking drugs can be used to block part of the hormone’s actions and relieve many symptoms.

It is interesting to note that many people who suffer from hyperthyroidism and are treated, later in life suffer from hypothyroidism as the body slows down with aging.

Thyroid Nodules

Thyroid nodules are fairly common. You may have a thyroid nodule and not even be able to feel it. Most are benign, meaning they are not cancerous. But even non-cancerous nodules can cause a problem, for example, if they grow large enough to press on your windpipe. A nodule can also produce too much hormone, resulting in hyperthyroidism.

You may be more at risk of developing nodules if you have or have had thyroiditis. People who as children received head or neck x-ray treatments for tonsillitis or other conditions (generally from the 1920s to 1960s) are more at risk, as are people who have been exposed to radiation for other reasons.

If you suspect a nodule, it is important to have it checked. Tests can include blood tests that measure thyroid hormones. (Read about “Laboratory Testing“) Scanning tests such as ultrasound (Read about “Ultrasound Imaging“) or a special thyroid scan can be used. You may also have a biopsy (Read about “Biopsy“), in which a needle is inserted into the nodule to remove a sample of cells.

Tests are important because swelling in the thyroid can be a sign of thyroid cancer. (Read about “Thyroid Cancer“) Again, while most nodules are benign, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) calls thyroid cancer the most common cancer of the endocrine system (Read about “Endocrine System“), so it is essential that you see your doctor if you notice any swelling or suspicious signs. If the nodule is not cancerous, but still growing and/or causing problems, treatment options include surgery to remove the nodule, radioactive iodine which can cause the nodule to shrink, or thyroid hormone suppression therapy.

Thyroid cancer

Although most thyroid nodules are benign, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) calls thyroid cancer the most common cancer of the endocrine system, resulting in about 1 percent of all cancers. The good news is the treatment success rate for thyroid cancer is very high.

(Read about Thyroid Cancer)

All Concept Communications material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.

© Concept Communications Media Group LLC

Online health topics reviewed/modified in 2021 | Terms of Use/Privacy Policy

Tonsils and Adenoids

Nose, Mouth, Neck

Our tonsils and adenoids are part of our early immune system. (Read about “The Immune System“) They are located high in the throat and their jobs are to catch germs. (Read about “Microorganisms“) The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAOHNS) says that it’s believed they act as an early warning system of sorts, filtering germs on the way in and helping to develop antibodies. They seem to do this mostly early in our lives. But they aren’t crucial because if you have them removed you are still able to develop resistance to disease. As we grow older, the adenoids and the tonsils both get smaller.

Where they are

The tonsils are in the back of your throat, one on each side. You can usually see them by shining a flashlight into the mouth and getting the person to say ahhh. They should be oval in shape and pink. That thing hanging down in the middle is called the uvula. It’s not the tonsils. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says there is no so-called “normal” size. Some children will have larger tonsils than others and some smaller.

The adenoids can’t be seen without special instruments. AAP says that what is commonly referred to as adenoids is actually just one mass of tissue located in the very upper part of the throat above the uvula and behind the nose.


Both the tonsils and the adenoids can get infected. When they do, they swell and get inflamed. That can cause other problems such as ear infections, such as otitis media. (Read about “Otitis Media“) AAOHNS says that most bacterial infections are first treated with antibiotics. (Read about “Antibiotics“) Years ago having one’s tonsils out was almost a right of passage. That is no longer the case, according to AAP, but surgery is still an option for children who suffer from cases of swollen or infected tonsils or adenoids.


The symptoms of infected tonsils or tonsillitis, according to both AAP and AAOHNS are:

  • red and swollen tonsils
  • a coating of white or yellow on the tonsils
  • voice change from the swelling, a throaty voice of sorts
  • sore throat (Read about “Sore Throat & Strep Throat“)
  • difficulty or painful swallowing
  • fever
  • swollen glands in the neck
  • earache (Read about “Earache“)

There may also be bad breath.

The symptoms of infected adenoids, also from AAP and AAOHNS, include:

  • difficulty breathing through the nose, resulting in the child breathing through the mouth most of the time (Read about “Respiratory System“)
  • noisy breathing during the day and snoring at night
  • many ear infections(Read about “Earache“)

The child can also suffer from sleep apnea, which is when breathing stops for a short time while the child is asleep. (Read about “Sleep“) It is important to remember that some of these symptoms can be caused by other conditions such as strep throat and mononucleosis. (Read about “Sore Throat & Strep Throat” “Mononucleosis“)

Your doctor is the best one to be able to diagnose what may be causing the symptoms if your child has them. If tonsillitis is caused by a viral infection, treatment is often just getting bed rest and drinking plenty of fluids. If tonsillitis is caused by a bacterial infection, antibiotics may be prescribed. It is important that you take all the medication, as it has been prescribed. (Read about “Medicine Safety“) Surgery or tonsillectomy is not commonly done in adults, but may be recommended for a child if the child has had multiple cases of tonsillitis in a year. Surgery may also be an option if an abscess develops or the tonsils affect breathing ability. You should discuss all treatment options with your doctor.

Related Information:

    Learn About Your Procedure

    At The Hospital: For Patients

    At The Hospital: For Visitors

All Concept Communications material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.

© Concept Communications Media Group LLC

Online health topics reviewed/modified in 2022 | Terms of Use/Privacy Policy

Vocal Problems

Laryngitis & Vocal Growths

Nose, Mouth, NeckWe may take our ability to speak for granted – until a problem develops. Basically, our voices are produced by vibration of the vocal folds, located in the larynx or voice box. When there’s a problem with the vocal folds, we develop a problem with our voices. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), the most common vocal disorders are laryngitis and vocal polyps or nodules.


Laryngitis is an inflammation or swelling of the vocal folds. NIDCD says there are a number of potential causes including:

If you have laryngitis, your voice sounds raspy, breathy and hoarse.

Vocal polyps and nodules

Vocal polyps and nodules are small, benign or noncancerous growths on the vocal cords. Vocal nodules are a common problem among people who use their voices professionally, such as singers. In fact, NIDCD says vocal nodules are often called “singer’s nodes” because this is a frequent problem among professional singers. Vocal polyps are also benign growths on the vocal cords. Polyps are more common among smokers, people with gastroesophageal reflux and people with hypothyroidism. (Read about “Quit Smoking” “Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease” “Thyroid“) Both nodules and polyps can result in a voice that sounds hoarse, low-pitched and slightly breathy.

Get it checked

Some vocal problems will go away on their own. But hoarseness can be a sign of a serious underlying condition such as cancer. (Read about “Head and Neck Cancers“) An otolaryngologist is the kind of doctor who specializes in this area. The American Academy of Otolaryngologists says you should seek medical help if:

  • hoarseness lasts longer than 2-3 weeks
  • hoarseness is associated with pain, coughing up blood, difficulty swallowing or a lump in the neck
  • if there’s a severe change in voice lasting longer than a few days

Depending on the cause of the condition, medical treatment could be necessary to correct the underlying problem. If underlying medical conditions are ruled out, a vocal therapist or speech-language pathologist can provide training to help reduce vocal irritation.

Related Information:

    The Common Cold


    Quit Smoking

    Head and Neck Cancers

All Concept Communications material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.

© Concept Communications Media Group LLC

Online health topics reviewed/modified in 2021 | Terms of Use/Privacy Policy

To protect us all, masks are still required at our facilities

To protect us all, masks are still required at our facilities

From cleaning routines to implementing additional safety measures, Wilmington Health takes disease prevention seriously. Please remember to wear a mask while inside a WH facility, and help us keep our community safe.

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