ENT specialists, or otolaryngologists, specialize in treating disorders and illness relating to the ears, nose, and throat, as well as surrounding regions of the neck and head. When you have a medical problem in this area, your general practitioner may refer you to an otolaryngologist.
How can an otolaryngologist help you?
An ENT specialist is has completed no less than five years of special training and passed an examination for certification by the American Board of Otolaryngology in addition to medical school. This training gives them the expertise to medically and surgically treat:
- Ear Conditions – An ear, nose, and throat doctor can help treat and manage conditions such as ear infections, disorders affecting balance, ear pain, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), or hearing loss. Congenital anomalies – conditions existing since birth – are often treated by ENT specialists.
- Nose Conditions – Problems affecting smell, breathing, and physical appearance often begin with the nose, nasal cavity, or sinuses, and would require an ENT doctor for specific treatment.
- Throat Conditions – Throat disorders or conditions can affect speech, singing, swallowing, eating, and even digestion. An ENT specialist can diagnose and treat these ailments.
- Other Conditions of the Head and Neck – Beyond typical ear, nose, and throat problems, ENT doctors specialize in treating deformities, trauma, tumors, and diseases of the head and neck. They can also perform reconstructive and cosmetic surgery when needed and help treat nerve problems that control abilities such as smell, sight, facial muscle control, and hearing.
With a few years of extensive training, ENT specialists often choose to practice one or more, narrower, subspecialties of otolaryngology. Subspecialties include:
- Pediatric otolaryngology (dealing with ENT problems in children specifically)
- Head and neck surgeries (specializing in tumors of the head and neck)
- Rhinology (nose and sinus cavity specialty)
- Laryngology (throat, voice, and swallowing)
- Sleep medicine
- Facial plastic and reconstructive surgery
- Otology/neurotology/audiology (dealing with the ears, balance, and tinnitus)
Why See an ENT Specialist?
If you suffer from any of these common conditions, an ENT doctor will have the specialized training to treat the problem:
- Balance problems
- Breathing problems
- Cleft palate
- Deviated septum
- Down’s syndrome
- Drooping of the eyelids
- Ear infection
- Ear, nose, or throat birth defects
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Growth or tumor in your ears, nose, or throat
- Hair loss
- Hearing impairment
- Injury to your ears, nose, or throat
- Nasal congestion
- Nerve problems in your ears, nose, or throat
- Nose bleeds
- Pain in your ears, nose, or throat
- Problems with smell
- Sinus problem
- Sore throat
- Swimmer’s ear
- Tonsil or adenoid infection
- Undesired appearance of the nose or face
- Voice or swallowing problems
Your primary care doctor will be able to help you determine if an ENT specialist can help you with these or any other problems affecting your ears, nose, or throat.