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Better communication and education are needed for ENT

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Taran Tatla

Honorary Secretary, ENT UK

World Hearing day highlights the need for greater awareness by public and healthcare professionals of ENT conditions and their impact on quality of life.

ENT conditions are very common, covering everyone from newborns to the elderly. Symptoms are managed by healthcare professionals in community and specialist settings, but even more frequently by parents and patients themselves.

Seeking advice from a healthcare professional

Many sufferers will try home-made or over-the-counter remedies before contacting a professional. Some may have sound scientific basis, but others less so. Using cotton bud sticks to “clean” out ear wax, causing further hearing loss through wax impaction or ear infection, highlights a need for better public education.

Good ENT health starts with avoiding self-harm and balancing appropriate lifestyles, diet and actions. ENT symptoms are commonly caused by environmental and dietary allergens and other seemingly innocuous triggers impacting the sensitive organ linings.

Tinnitus often accompanies hearing loss and imbalance predisposes to risk of falls.

ENT symptoms are commonly caused by environmental and dietary allergens and other seemingly innocuous triggers.

New factors affecting senses

While exposure to loud noise was once primarily occupational through machinery, today it is often self-inflicted via loud music played through headphones. Tinnitus, hearing loss and dizziness account for significant mental health and cognitive disturbance, research clearly linking with anxiety, depression, stress and even dementia. Quality of life is reduced by such sensory disturbances.

The effect of respiratory viruses such as COVID-19 on the senses of smell and taste has been highlighted recently in the media. The secondary sensory impact upon the ear organs  however is not appreciated by the public or healthcare professionals.

Doctor-patient communication has been impeded, face-to-face meetings replaced by virtual encounters. The most vulnerable – those with hearing and voice loss, communication issues at extremes of life, mental health, brain injury or language deficiency – are in danger of being forgotten, as we harvest technology to facilitate communication and knowledge sharing through tele-medicine and tele-training.

Providing better education for ENT

As well as ensuring ENT professionals are fully equipped to understand and meet these challenges, it is important that the public receives the best possible education in maintaining ENT health.

World Hearing Day is an invaluable opportunity to raise awareness and help us all to ensure we have the information we need to properly look after ourselves.

ENT UK provide unique educational content online through its BACO Educational Package. The latest ENT innovations and cutting-edge research are accessible to healthcare professionals managing ENT conditions around the world. Other public focused, UK grass-root initiatives coinciding with World Hearing Day include “Hearing Birdsong“.

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