First-aid guide

First aid for ear nose and throat conditions

Tips on how to treat some conditions yourself, before you contact us. This information has been prepared for general guidance only and it is not a substitute for professional medical care. The recommendations are intended only for first aid and the treatment of acute pain, on your own responsibility.

Acute earache

Taking a painkiller is the best treatment in the first instance. Although many people stuff the ear with cotton wool, it is not a good idea and will only increase the spread of any infection. Acute earache in children under the age of two is usually accompanied by fever and must be treated by a doctor at once.


Acute nosebleeds

When blood is dripping out of only one nostril: plug both nostrils with a rolled-up paper handkerchief or with normal or haemostatic cotton wool, and pinch the two nostrils together firmly. Put a cold pack or wrapped ice cubes on the back of the neck.

Sudden hearing loss in one ear

This is often due to impacted ear wax blocking the ear canal completely. But the same symptom may also be due to sudden sensorineural hearing loss.

Seek medical advice within 24 hours.

Cleaning the ears

You should not clean out the ear canals using cotton wool buds, as this can cause injury. A small amount of natural ear wax is harmless. It is much safer to clean your ears using warm water (at body temperature) from the shower.

Acute rotational vertigo/dizziness

Lie down immediately and find the most comfortable position. As a first-aid measure, use a travel sickness medicine (Itinerol/Torecan) in the form of a suppository. You should be able to get up within 24 hours, otherwise consult a doctor.

It is a good idea to consult an ENT specialist promptly, as a diagnosis is often only possible at the start of the condition.

Generalised flu symptoms

Medication to lower the temperature and cold packs may be helpful. Seek medical advice if the fever persists or continues to rise. It is important to drink plenty of fluid. Seek medical advice if there is any localised pain (e.g. headache or chest pain related to breathing).


As a rule, snoring is a harmless irritating sound during night-time breathing which disturbs other people’s sleep. In a small percentage of cases (less than 5%), however, snoring may be dangerous. These cases are associated with frequent pauses in breathing, leading to a loss of deep sleep. As a result, the person suffers from daytime tiredness, microsleeps, loss of concentration, and mood swings, in addition to having an increased risk of cardiovascular failure.

The syndrome, known as obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), is more common in men than in women, and occurs especially in older and overweight individuals.

Campaigns to prevent sleep apnoea syndromes advise losing weight, regularly getting enough sleep, and not drinking alcohol in the evenings. There are various surgical options to counteract snoring. They all aim to eliminate fluttering vibrations in the upper airways. The operations improve nasal breathing and strengthen the soft palate, while splints can be used to push forward the lower jaw (and also the tongue). Surgery can also be carried out at the base of the tongue. Unfortunately, none of these operations has a 100% success rate.

First aid measures are therefore weight loss and changes in sleeping posture (don’t sleep on your back).

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