What are the causes of ear, nose & throat infections?

Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) infections are common and the symptoms are usually mild. However, the infections can cause problems that need to be treated by an ENT specialist.

The common infections of ear, nose & throat

Infections in different areas (ear, nose or throat) tend to produce different symptoms. Hence, when determining the cause of the ear, nose or throat infection, we will find the location of the infection first before finding the specific viral or bacterial infection that is causing the problem.

Sometimes all we need to know is just the location of the infection to manage the symptoms. However, in some cases, it may be possible to identify the specific infection that is responsible. This is important to do when the symptoms are severe, as the infection could be bacterial.

Different infections can affect your ears, nose or throat, including:

  • The common cold and flu viruses
  • Infections in other parts of the body (such as the chest)
  • Mononucleosis and mumps
  • Strep throat

Viral vs bacterial infection

The germs that cause ENT infections can be either viruses or bacteria. It’s important to know whether your infection is viral or bacterial because it can affect the symptoms and treatment options. Viral infections are more common as they include colds and the flu, which can cause ENT infections.

Bacterial infections don’t happen as often but they can be more severe. ENT infections that are caused by bacteria may be possible to be treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics only work against bacteria, so they can’t help with viral infections.

Since the symptoms can be very similar, it’s hard to tell which kind of infection a person will have. An ENT specialist will be able to diagnose the type of infection.

When should you see a doctor?

Although ear, nose and throat infections are not usually to worry about, you should consult a doctor if your symptoms are severe, last longer than expected or if it keeps recurring. An ENT specialist will be able to find out the cause of the infection and look for any underlying problems.

Find out how you can improve your condition with our Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT), Head & Neck Surgery specialists at Regency Specialist Hospital.

Have question?
Get in touch with Regency