One of the most important doctors you can have as part of your family’s health care team is an ENT, or an ears, nose and throat physician. If your child has chronic ear infections, you’ll likely seek out an ENT for treatment. Or, if you’re a senior, you may have a hearing issue that needs an ENT’s care.
Learn what an ENT treats and how they can help you or a family member with specific health issues.
What is an ENT?
The field of medicine that an ENT treats is called otolaryngology. Otolaryngologists diagnose, manage, and treat disorders of your head and neck. An ENT doctor looks at your ears, nose, throat, sinuses, larynx, and other related parts of your body.
Otolaryngologists are doctors who go through a rigorous course of specialty training after earning a medical degree. ENTs are board certified in otolaryngology and maintain their licenses by taking extra medical classes and attending conferences on a regular basis.
Some of the specialty areas in otolaryngology include:
- Pediatric otolaryngology
- Reconstructive facial and plastic surgeries
- Rhinology specializing in nose and sinus cavity issues
- Laryngology specializing in swallowing, voice and throat issues
- Otology, neurotology and audiology specializing in ears, balance and tinnitus
What does an ENT treat?
ENTs can treat the following conditions and perform following procedures on patients of all ages:
- Adenoid removal
- Chronic ear infections
- Cochlear implants for hearing restoration
- Congenital abnormalities (like a cleft palate or lip or a loss of smell)
- Deviated septum repairs
- Eardrum perforation repairs
- Ear tube inserts
- Hearing aid fittings
- Hearing loss
- Plastic and maxillofacial surgeries
- Reconstructive surgery
- Sleep disorders (sleep apnea)
- Speech disorders
- Swallowing disorders
- Tumor removal from the head and neck
When to see an ENT
Your general physician may be able to diagnose a minor problem. However, an ENT can do specific tests to identify a disorder of your head or neck.
You should see an ENT if you or a loved one has the following complaints:
- Balancing issues or dizziness
- Breathing difficulties
- Chronic sinusitis and allergies
- Ear infections
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Hearing issues
- Hoarseness and chronic sore throats
- Pain in the ear
- Problems sleeping
- Swallowing difficulties
- Swimmer’s ear
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
Your primary care physician should be able to provide an ENT referral for you.
During your first visit to an ENT, the doctor will ask about your symptoms and examine you. Some of the tests during your first visit may include:
- Audiometric testing for patients complaining of hearing loss or balance issues
- Nasal endoscopy with a small telescope to examine the inside of your nose and look for abnormalities
- Nasal exam to look at tissues in your nose, including your septum
- Neck exam to look at your lymph nodes, thyroid gland and salivary glands
- Pressure testing your eardrum for fluid, which may cause hearing loss
- Voicebox examination
Learn more about the ENT services available at Bon Secours.