Otolaryngology describes the field of medicine concerned with disorders of the ear, nose, throat, as well as the associated structures of the head and neck.
The term is an abbreviation of otorhinolaryngology, which itself is a mashup of the three primary specialty areas: ears (otology), nose (rhinology), and throat (laryngology).
Doctors who are specially trained to diagnose and treat problems in these areas are commonly referred to as ENTs (for “ear, nose, and throat” doctors). They are also sometimes called otolaryngologists or otorhinolaryngologists.
Conditions ENTs Treat
ENTs treat a wide variety of disorders, including:
- Sinus Infections. Your sinuses are an intricate set of hollow cavities and tunnels around the nose and above the eyes. When these passageways become inflamed due to the buildup of mucus, it can cause a sinus infection. If you’ve ever had sinusitis, your nose and sinuses will feel stuffed up and congested, and headaches caused by the buildup of pressure in the sinus cavities are common.
- Allergies. Some ENTs specialize in allergies and use various testing methods to narrow down the possible triggers if you’re experiencing what you think may be an allergic reaction. Your treatment options will depend on the type of allergy you have as well as the severity of your symptoms and may include medications and allergy shots (immunotherapy).
- Sleep Apnea and Snoring. There are a number of conditions that can cause snoring and lead to sleep apnea, when you repeatedly stop breathing for brief periods during sleep. For example, nasal polyps, a deviated septum, or thickened tissue around the throat may all obstruct the flow of air during sleep. Many people with sleep apnea may not even be aware they have the problem, although snoring, daytime drowsiness, and headaches upon awakening are all clues.
- Ear Infections. Anyone who has endured an earache can tell you it can leave you in agony. Children are especially susceptible to ear infections due to the size and position of their ear canals.
- And so much more. This includes problems swallowing or with the vocal cords. Tonsillitis, inflammation of the lymphatic tissue at either side of the back of the throat, is a common reason children will see an ENT. Ringing in the ears (tinnitus) is a common reason older adults will see an ENT. They also perform surgical repairs for birth defects or for those who have suffered facial trauma that has left them disfigured. ENTs are trained to surgically remove and otherwise treat tumors that develop in the ear, nose, or throat.
Most important, rather than just treating you ear, nose, or throat symptoms, an ENT can diagnose the cause of your symptoms and develop a treatment plan to address it.
Educational Training of an ENT
Like most doctors, ENTs undergo four years of medical school. They then spend three to five years in specialized residency training.
Some ENTs may also opt to complete a year or two of fellowship training in a subspecialty area such as head and neck surgery.
If you have a condition affecting your ears, nose, or throat, schedule a visit with an ENT at Intercoastal Medical Group by calling (941) 538-0018 in Bradenton or (941) 379-1800 in Sarasota, Florida. You can also request an appointment online now.