Doctors known as otolaryngologists are specialists with a tripartite area of expertise—they specialize in conditions of the ears, nose, and throat. But how are the ears, nose, and throat connected? While all three are in the same neighborhood, so to speak, some of us may not grasp how the part of our body that hears could have anything to do with the part that swallows. But like so many disparate parts of the body with very different jobs, all three work in harmony. Here’s how your ears, nose, and throat are connected—and how one simple pair of tubes can cause complex problems, especially in kids.
Nose and Throat
The ear, nose, and throat connection begins with the nose and throat. As two parts of the respiratory system, the nose and throat work together in many ways. The throat is what connects the mouth to the nose, as well as connects both to the lungs and the esophagus. If you’ve ever choked on spicy food and felt the burn in your nose, their connectivity is not lost on you. This same connectivity is conducive to the spread of infections—an infection in one will soon spread to the other.
Throat and Ears
Do the ears drain into the throat? They do. While the pairing of nose and throat is an intuitive one, you may not immediately think of your ears as connecting to your throat. The Eustachian tubes drain fluid from the ears into the throat by way of the nasopharynx, and for the most part, they do so without incident, even when you have a common cold. In small children, however, the Eustachian tubes have not fully taken position, meaning that they lie horizontally and cannot drain mucus sufficiently. This backup leaves idle matter for bacteria to feast on, causing ear infections. This same bacteria can then find its way into the throat.
Ears and Nose
Believe it or not, by the nasal passage does connect to our ears. The ears, at roughly the same level on our heads as the nose, are also connected by the Eustachian tube, which drains from the ears into the nasopharynx. This is the passage between the upper throat and nasal cavity. It’s through this same route that bacterial and viral infections can spread from ears to nose and vice versa. These tubes connect the entire triangle of ears, nose, and throat.
By understanding how your ears, nose, and throat are connected, you can understand how small and localized infections can quickly get out of hand. If you or your child are suffering from persistent illnesses concerning these parts of the body, Allergy & ENT Associates can connect you with an ear, nose, and throat doctor in the Houston area who specializes in treating such illnesses. Make an appointment today with one of our clinics.