Otolaryngologists, also known as ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctors, diagnose and treat ENT conditions and disease. Otolaryngologists also are known as head and neck surgeons.
Specialists in this field have training in both surgery and medicine. ENT doctors focus on a number of medical specialties and various sub-specialties. These include such disciplines as pediatrics, oncology, sinus disease, and surgery. Because of their range of capabilities, ENT surgeons might one day correct a child’s tonsillitis and on the next day treat an adult’s larynx cancer.
Approximately 10% of North Americans are plagued by loss of hearing. Ear and hearing disorders are one of the focus areas of ENT physicians, who can diagnose and manage these conditions. These doctors are trained to diagnose, treat, and, if necessary, operate on conditions involving loss of hearing, noise in the ears, infections of the ear, as well as certain disorders entailing cranial nerves. These ear disorders are often present from birth.
One of the more frequent health issues in North America is common and often reoccurring sinusitis, which involves the inflammation of the nasal passages for an extended period of time – often for up to three months. ENT doctors specialize in caring for the passages and sinuses. They may have to address allergies, polyps, and obstructions in the nasal area.
ENT physicians are experts in addressing throat, voice box, and food pipe disorders, including swallowing and voice issues. This is a pretty important sub-specialty considering that talking and consuming food is pretty basic to one’s survival.
The ability to see, smell, and hear are based in the head and neck area of the body. ENT doctors best know how to treat conditions ranging from benign or cancerous tumors to infections and trauma that may occur in this area. They can carry out either cosmetic or reconstructive procedures.
Allergies: Often treated by ENT doctors with medicines and allergy shots, they instruct patients to avoid mold, dust, pollen, and other irritants. The conditions treated include inflamed mucous membranes, sore throats, ear aches, an inflamed voice box, and loss of balance.
Facial surgery: ENT physicians can perform plastic and reconstructive procedures to correct face, neck, and ear abnormalities. They may perform face lifts, remove lesions and other growths, and correct cleft palates or deformities of the ear.
Head region: ENT specialists can operate on head and neck tumors, including tumors and other abnormalities found in the nose, throat, mouth, larynx, voice box and food pipe. A stuffy nose and anosmia can also be addressed.
Throat: ENT doctors can address swallowing disorders. They treat problems such as unusual voice changes, dysphagia (which can occur at different stages of the swallowing process), reflux disorders, and various infections and inflammations.
Ear: Otolaryngologists can treat ear nerve disorders that may impact one’s balance as well as hearing ability. These conditions include swimmer’s ear, face and neck discomfort, vertigo and ringing.
Pediatric conditions: Children with special ENT issues, such as congenital head and neck conditions, sleep apnea, and those with delayed growth issues can be treated by ENT physicians. Breathing and airway problems, allergies, and sinus conditions can also be corrected.
Reviewed by Susha Cheriyedath, MSc