SEEING, HEARING, smelling, tasting, talking and swallowing are things we do everyday and, therefore, take for granted.
“But as everyone knows, when things go wrong with any one of these, life can be extremely difficult,” say Dr. Ricky Fernandez.
“Whenever we get a ‘simple’ cold, we find it hard to breathe, we can’t hear normally, we can’t smell and taste our food, sometimes our ears hurt,” he says. “What more for more serious or complicated conditions?”
Fernandez is the chair of Makati Medical Center’s Ear, Nose, Throat department and he recommends a check-up at least once a year at their ENT Diagnostic Center just to make sure everything is in tip-top shape, or to catch potential problems early on.
“It’s always easier to treat a problem when it’s still at its beginning stages, rather than waiting until it’s a big problem.”
The center is home to the hospital’s otolaryngologists, who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of ear, nose, throat and head and neck disorders—which is why doctors who specialize in this field are more commonly referred to as ENT (ear, nose, throat) doctors.
They treat a whole range of problems from stuffy noses to balance problems (the ears play an important part in helping our brain figure out how to balance our bodies).
“Imagine, our ability to stand straight, walk, play basketball or dance are all affected by our ears,” he says.
To help increase awareness of the importance of ENT health, the department is organizing a fun run dubbed “Run Doctor Run” on July 23 at Dasmariñas Village.
Event head organizer Cherrie Miguel says the fun run’s objective is to raise funds for the department’s head and neck cancer charity patients.
“The ENT department also has experts for the treatment of cancer. Not many people know this, but the department helps out patients who are not able to afford treatment,” she says. “We’d love for everyone to support our fun run so they can help out these patients while having a good time and meeting new friends at the same time.”
“It’s also a good opportunity to awaken the camaraderie and fitness attitude of all the hospital’s employees, doctors, patients and the residents of Makati Med’s neighbors.”
Makati Med’s Ear, Nose, Throat department is staffed by clinical audiologists and technicians who supervise the diagnostic tests that help doctors determine what condition a patient has so they can recommend the most appropriate treatment plans.
It has a host of equipment that perform different kinds of tests to check patient’s conditions. Hearing tests are usually done in sound-proof booths (that look like recording studio booths). Dr. Jay Ongsiako, the department’s training officer, says the tests are done to “identify a patient’s hearing threshold to determine the degree, type and configuration of hearing loss.”
“Some tests are very easy—for example, patients simply need to push a button when they hear a tone on their headphones,” he says.
The tests are adjusted for children. For example, they’re tasked to put toys in a box instead of pushing buttons. The center also helps patients with hearing aids if needed.
For dizziness or vertigo, the center uses electronystagmography, a procedure that video-records eye movement so doctors can identify if eye muscles might be making involuntary or uncontrolled movements that can trigger problems.
“Another often-abused or mis-used part of our bodies is our throats,” says Ongsiako. “People who use their voice a lot like singers, announcers or teachers should watch out for prolonged hoarseness, it could be a symptom of a condition that should be treated early. Excessive smokers and drinkers should also have their throats checked regularly.”
The center uses videolaryngostroboscopy, a way to video-record a patient’s vocal cords, which is then viewed by doctors on a monitor. A thin flexible tube called a fiberoptic rhinolaryngoscope can be used for patients who are excitable or have a gag reflex.
“This way we can catch any small abnormalities inside the throat such as masses or lesions, abnormal motion, swelling, etc.”
Fernandez is proud of the fact that their center has its own operating room.
“Procedures that do not require general anesthesia can all be done here, we’re a one-stop-shop,” he says. “We average close to 400 patients every month and they consistently give us an above-average satisfaction rating in our surveys.”
Ongsiako points out that the operating room has a built-in camera that projects videos of any procedure into the department’s conference room.
“As the training officer, I’m always on the lookout for ways to improve the education of our doctors. This system allows them to watch and learn from complicated procedures and procedures done on unusual cases.”
To sponsor “Run Doctor Run” or to participate, call 0917-840-8781, 0915-628-2156 or 888-8999 loc ENT.