Causes and Symptoms (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Nasopharyngeal disorders include all the diseases that can be present in the nasal cavity and the pharynx. These include the common cold, pharyngitis (sore throat), laryngitis (inflammation of the larynx), epiglottitis (inflammation of the lid over the larynx), tonsillitis (inflammation of the lymph nodes at the rear of the mouth), sinusitis (inflammation of the sinus cavities that surround the nose), otitis media (earache that is often associated with nasopharyngeal infection), nosebleed, nasal obstruction, halitosis (bad breath), and various other disorders.
The common cold is one of the most prevalent diseases that afflict humankind. Pharyngitis, or sore throat, often accompanies the common cold, or it may appear by itself. Acute infections can be caused by viruses or bacteria, often by certain streptococcus strains—hence the common term for the disorder, strep throat. Acute pharyngitis can also be caused by chemicals or radiation. As a chronic disorder, pharyngitis can be caused by lingering infection in other organs such as the lungs and sinuses, or it can be attributable to constant irritation from smoking, drinking alcohol, or breathing polluted air. The usual symptoms of pharyngitis include sore throat, difficulty in swallowing, and fever. The infected area appears red and swollen. Ordinarily, pharyngitis is not serious. If certain strains of streptococcus are the cause, however, then the infection may progress...
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Treatment and Therapy (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Nasopharyngeal disorders are most often mild illnesses that can be treated at home. For example, acute pharyngitis or sore throat is easily managed most of the time. The patient is advised to rest, gargle with warm salt water several times a day, and soothe the pain with lozenges or anesthetic gargles. If the infection is caused by a virus, it usually will clear without further treatment. If the physician suspects, however, that the infection is bacterial in origin, throat smears may be taken so that the organism can be identified. If bacteria are discovered, antibiotic therapy will be undertaken to eradicate the pathogens. This is particularly important if the infection is caused by certain strains of streptococcus bacteria. In this case, it is vital to destroy the organism in order to avoid the development of rheumatic fever.
In acute laryngitis caused by viral infection, the patient is advised to rest the voice, inhale steam, and drink warm liquids. If bacteria are the cause of the laryngitis, antibiotic therapy is undertaken. In treating chronic laryngitis, the physician must discover the cause and remove it. If allergy is the cause, antihistamine therapy could help. If the cause is bacterial, antibiotic therapy is used. If smoking or drinking alcohol is the problem, the patient should be counseled to stop. The simple palliative measures used for acute laryngitis—resting the voice, drinking warm liquids, and...
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Perspective and Prospects (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Diseases and infections of the nasal cavity and throat have always been common among human populations, as have therapies to deal with them. Until the advent of antibiotics, some of these disorders were quite serious, especially in young children, but modern medications and surgeries, where appropriate, have greatly lessened the danger. The widespread use of a vaccine against Hemophilus influenzae, the most common causative organism of epiglottitis, has made this life-threatening disease a rarity. Many over-the-counter drugs are used to combat sore throats, sinus congestion, and other nasopharyngeal symptoms of the common cold, although colds themselves remain incurable because of the hundreds or thousands of different microorganisms that may be responsible.
Despite the numerous medications that can be taken, however, more serious infections or diseases, such as chronic tonsillitis or laryngitis, require a doctor’s care, with more potent, prescription drugs and surgery if needed. The treatments available to physicians and patients for the symptoms of nasopharyngeal disorders are many, but the search continues for better drugs and perhaps preventive measures such as vaccinations to address the causes of these conditions.
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For Further Information: (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Ferrari, Mario. PDxMD Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders. Philadelphia: PDxMD, 2003. A clinical yet accessible reference text that provides a comprehensive list of disorders, with a summary of the condition, background, diagnosis, treatment, outcomes, prevention, and resources.
Friedman, Ellen M., and James M. Barassi. My Ear Hurts! A Complete Guide to Understanding and Treating Your Child’s Ear Infections. Darby, Pa.: Diane, 2004. Reviews current research on ear infections and reviews a range of treatment approaches from both conventional and alternative medicine.
Greene, Alan R. The Parent’s Complete Guide to Ear Infections. Reprint. Allentown, Pa.: People’s Medical Society, 2004. Every parent who has ever had a child with recurrent otitis will appreciate this book. It explains the anatomy of normal ears, causes of infections, prevention, symptoms, evaluation, initial and ongoing treatment, antibiotics, the pros and cons of surgical intervention, hearing loss, tubes, and complications.
Kimball, Chad T. Colds, Flu, and Other Common Ailments Sourcebook. Detroit, Mich.: Omnigraphics, 2001. A comprehensive guide for general readers covering treatment issues and controversies surrounding common ailments and injuries. Includes discussions on ailments of the nose, throat, lungs, ears, eyes, and head.
Litin, Scott C., ed. Mayo Clinic Family Health Book....
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