What Conditions Does an ENT Treat?

Medically Reviewed on 5/13/2021
ENT doctor
An ENT doctor specializes in the treatment of your ears, nose and throat

An ENT doctor, also called an otolaryngologist, is trained in the care and treatment of a wide range of conditions that affect the areas in and around your ears, nose and throat, as well as head and neck problems. Common conditions they treat may include:

  • Hearing problems
  • Ringing in ears
  • Allergies (seasonal or perennial)
  • Inflammation in the sinuses due to sensitivity or infections
  • Nasal congestion
  • Polyps (noncancerous masses) inside the nose
  • Throat or vocal cord issues that cause voice hoarseness
  • Tonsillar infections and enlarged tonsils
  • Giddiness and vertigo

An ENT physician may specialize in the following areas:

  • Otology/neurotology: Diseases of the ear that affect hearing and balance, such as trauma (injury), cancer and nerve pathway disorders.
  • Pediatric otolaryngology: Diseases in children with special ENT problems, including birth defects in the head and neck and developmental delays.
  • Facial plastic and reconstructive surgery: Cosmetic, functional and reconstructive surgical treatment of abnormalities of the face and neck.
  • Rhinology: Disorders of the nose and sinuses.
  • Laryngology: Disorders of the throat, including voice and swallowing problems.
  • Allergy: Treatment by medication, immunotherapy (allergy shots) and/or avoiding pollen, dust, mold, food and other sensitivities that affect the ear, nose and throat.

Can an ENT doctor perform surgery?

An ENT doctor can perform the following surgeries:

  • Cochlear implants (to restore hearing)
  • Deviated nasal septum (to repair nasal passages)
  • Tonsillectomies (to remove tonsils and adenoids)
  • Sinus drainage
  • Removal of tumors in the upper respiratory areas
  • Reconstructive surgeries like nose reconstruction
  • Head and neck cancer surgery
  • Mastoid surgery
  • Eardrum repair
  • Vocal cord repair
  • Tracheotomy

When should I see an ENT doctor?

You should see an ENT doctor if you have the following symptoms:

  • Persistent hearing loss: While temporary hearing loss can happen occasionally, it may be a sign of permanent ear damage if the problem persists for more than a week or two.
  • Ringing in the ears: If you are experiencing a constant ringing sensation in your ears, you may have tinnitus. In some cases, tinnitus is an early symptom of hearing loss. However, it can also be a sign of an ear infection or another hearing problem. 
  • Sinusoidal pain: Sinus pain includes pain in the face, ear, upper teeth region and nose. Your face may be sore and swollen in these areas, and if the inflammation lasts for several days, it could indicate a serious problem.
  • Persistent nasal congestion: A clogged nose or symptoms that make breathing difficult could be caused by airborne allergies, infections or a deviated septum. If symptoms are persistent, your ENT doctor may be able to help you resolve the underlying issue.
  • Sore throat: While sore throats are common, if yours is so severe that you find it extremely difficult to drink water or the pain has lasted longer than a week, you may need to undergo an examination to rule out something serious like tonsillitis or GERD.

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Medically Reviewed on 5/13/2021
References
WebMD. What Is an Otolaryngologist? https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/ear-infection/otolaryngologist-ear-throat

University of Utah Health. Ear, Nose, & Throat (ENT) Doctor or Primary Care Physician: When to See an ENT. https://healthcare.utah.edu/ent/ent-or-primary-care-doctor.php