Overview

Overview

At Cleveland Clinic, our board-certified general otolaryngologists — often referred to as ear, nose and throat specialists or ENTs — are trained in both medicine and surgery. They can care for the ear, nose and throat problems of your entire family, from children to grandparents.

General ENTs have chosen to maintain a wide scope of skills to treat a variety of diseases of the ear, nose and throat and associated structures of the head and neck. Often, these ailments can affect more than one organ system. Your general ENT will look at the whole picture and work to hone in on the primary origin of your head and neck symptoms.

As surgeons, our general ENTs perform a variety of procedures — from ear tube insertion and tonsillectomies to removal of head, neck and throat cancers. For extremely complex cases, they have easy access to subspecialists in Cleveland Clinic’s Head & Neck Institute. Our subspecialists focus on very specific areas of the head and neck; they include rhinologists (sinus specialists), laryngologists (voice, airway and swallowing specialists), otologists and neurotologists (ear, hearing and balance specialists), head and neck cancer specialists, and facial reconstructive surgeons.

Our general ENTs work closely with our audiologists to ensure that patients with hearing issues receive the most appropriate treatment. They also work with our speech-language pathologists to help patients with voice or swallowing issues.

Our Providers

Our Providers

Abnormal Taste and Smell

Abnormal Taste and Smell

What are the symptoms of abnormal sense of taste and smell?

Abnormal sense of smell can refer to either a decreased or absent sense of smell, smelling odors that are not really present, or the inability to identify odors. These can significant affect quality of life for a patient, causing anxiety and decreased enjoyment of food. Changes in taste and smell can occasionally be dangerous for patients, such as when you cannot smell smoke or other warning odors.

What causes abnormal sense of taste and smell?

The most common causes of smell disorders are nasal and/or sinus disease, viral upper respiratory infections, and head trauma. The most common causes of taste disorders are upper respiratory tract infections and head injuries. Other infrequent causes of both include masses in the nasal or oral passageways, endocrine problems, side effects from medications, and degenerative processes of the brain.

How are these diseases diagnosed?

The first step in diagnosis is a thorough history and physical examination. It is important to provide information to your doctor regarding respiratory illnesses, nasal or sinus symptoms, history of trauma, other medical conditions, and medication use.

What are the treatments of taste and smell disorders?

Treatments of taste and smell disorders are directed towards the underlying cause. Nasal or sinus conditions should be managed with either medication or surgical therapy, depending on the severity of the disease. Endocrine disorders such as hypothyroidism should be treated appropriately. Medications that may be causing the smell and/or taste disturbance can sometimes be substituted with another medication.

Ear Wax Impaction (Cerumen)

Ear Wax Impaction (Cerumen)

What is cerumen impaction?

Cerumen impaction is trapping of ear wax in the ears. If this is severe, it can cause hearing loss. Occasionally, cerumen impactions can lead to ear infections with bacteria or fungus growth.

What are the symptoms of cerumen impaction?

If mild, no symptoms may be present. Most commonly, cerumen impaction leads to a “plugged up” feeling in the ears. If severe, it can cause hearing loss, ringing in the ears, pain, and occasionally, dizziness. 

What causes cerumen impaction?

Some people are more prone to impactions than others, either because they produce more wax or have small ear canals that trap the wax. Using cotton swabs can make this problem worse by pushing the wax further into the ear canal.

How is cerumen impaction diagnosed?

An exam with an otoscope (lighted instrument used to look in the ear) will reveal whether ear wax is present.

What is the treatment of cerumen impaction?

Removal of the wax usually causes immediate relief. There are a variety of ways to do this, including sucking out the wax with a vacuum, removing it with a loop, and flushing it out. These should be done by a medical professional, since injury to the ear canal and ear drum can result if not done properly. Ear candling is not recommended for removal of wax, since this can lead to burns.