Assessing the head, eyes, ears, nose, and throat

  

Most ear, nose, and throat conditions that arise in non-critical care settings are minor in nature. However, subtle symptoms can sometimes escalate into life-threatening conditions that require prompt assessment and treatment.

Nurses conducting assessments of the ears, nose, and throat must be able to identify the small differences between life-threatening conditions and benign ones. For instance, if a patient with a sore throat and a runny nose also has inflamed lymph nodes, the inflammation is probably due to the pathogen causing the sore throat rather than a case of throat cancer. With this knowledge and a sufficient patient health history, a nurse would not need to escalate the assessment to a biopsy or an MRI of the lymph nodes but would probably perform a simple strep test.

The Case Study/Scenario: 

Jason, a 13-year-old male comes in with Mom complaining of painful swallowing. Started yesterday as a “really bad sore throat” made worse with swallowing. He reports feeling very tired. His Mom gave him over-the-counter Children’s Motrin which made his fever better but did not help his sore throat. He reports his symptoms are especially, worse during nighttime. His tonsils are 2+ and erythematous, tonsil stones are present on the right side. He has white patches on his tongue

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