Many patients have been putting off office visits or procedures during the COVID pandemic, but there are some issues with the ears, nose, mouth and throat that require prompt attention.
“There are many ENT problems that don’t require immediate attention,” said David W. Stepnick, MD, Department Chair of Otolaryngology at MetroHealth. “For example, if someone has had sinus problems for 20 years and the problems are stable, it’s probably OK to wait until COVID is behind us before being seen. But, there are certain signs and symptoms that should be evaluated and possibly treated right away – and it’s perfectly safe to come into MetroHealth to have those addressed.
Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore
If adults have any of the following symptoms, they should schedule an appointment with ENT and not wait for the pandemic to be over:
- Recent changes in hearing
- Sudden hearing loss (This is considered somewhat of an emergency and the patient ideally should be seen within 24 hours)
- New onset of ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
- New ear pain – especially pain that’s worse with swallowing
- Ear infections or drainage that do not improve with drops or antibiotics
Nose and Sinuses
- Sinus infection that doesn’t get better with treatment from a Primary Care Doctor
- Sinus pressure with double vision
- Persistent nose bleeds
Mouth and Throat
- Lesion, mass, or bump anywhere in the mouth that doesn’t go away: on or under the tongue, on the roof of the mouth, gums or inside the cheeks – with or without pain or bleeding. This could be a sign of cancer.
- Hoarseness that lasts longer than six weeks
- Difficulty breathing that feels as if it originates in the throat and isn’t related to the lungs, asthma or COPD
- Trouble swallowing or pain when swallowing, especially when it leads to weight loss
- Coughing or choking with swallowing liquids or solids
- Coughing up blood
- Sore throat longer than four weeks
- Neck mass or lump
- Swollen glands that don’t improve with care of a Primary Care Physician
- Head or neck trauma with fractures
If children have the following symptoms, they schedule an appointment with ENT right away:
- Hearing problems
- Sudden hearing loss (This is considered somewhat of an emergency and the patient ideally should be seen within 24 hours, although it may be hard to figure this out in a young child).
- Foreign bodies in the ear
- Ear infections that do not improve with drops or antibiotics
- Nose bleeds that are frequent or that won’t clot
After an in-person visit with an ENT, when possible, follow-up care may be done through Telehealth.
It’s Safe to Come to MetroHealth
Dr. Stepnick wants patients to know it is safe to come to MetroHealth for care. “We have a long history of sanitizing and keeping exam rooms and waiting rooms clean, even before COVID,” he said. “We use virus-killing cleaning solutions, require masks at all times, and keep patients physically distanced from each other. Our protocols make it safe to see patients.”
Make an Appointment
MetroHealth’s Ear, Nose and Throat specialists see patients every day at Parma Medical Center and the Main Campus Medical Center. The Westlake Crocker Park location has ENTs available several days a week. The Lyndhurst office is temporarily closed but will re-open in the near future. Call 216-778-5791 to make an appointment. Visit our Ear, Nose and Throat page for more information.