What’s an ENT?

ENTs Treat the Fundamental Functions of Life

Imagine a singer not being able to sing, or you not being able to hear her beautiful music.

Imagine not being able to smell the earth after a spring rain, or not being able to taste and enjoy your favorite holiday meal.

Imagine not being able to sleep through the night next to your loved one because they snore.

These are some of the fundamental functions of life that make living so rich and wonderful. Yet when one or more of these functions no longer work the way they should, living is diminished or even jeopardized.

Hearing and balance, swallowing and speech, breathing and sleep issues, allergies and sinuses, head and neck cancer, skin disorders, even facial plastic surgery are just some of the conditions that “ENT” (ear, nose, and throat) specialists treat. Professionally, ENT specialists are called “otolaryngologists” (pronounced: oh/toe/lair/in/goll/oh/jists), but it’s easier just to say “ENT.”

What's an ENT?

ENTs Treat the Simple to Severe

Did you know that nearly half of patients going to primary care offices have some sort of ENT issue?

Think about it. Almost everyone has had a stuffy nose, clogged ears, or sore throat, but ENT specialists treat a diverse range of conditions and disorders of the ears, nose, throat, head, and neck region—from simple to severe, for all persons, at all stages of life.

ENT specialists are not only medical doctors who can treat your sinus headache, your child’s swimmer’s ear, or your dad’s sleep apnea. They are also surgeons who can perform extremely delicate operations to restore hearing of the middle ear, open blocked airways, remove head, neck, and throat cancers, and rebuild these essential structures. This requires an additional five to eight years of intensive, post-graduate training beyond medical school.

Organized ENTs have been setting the treatment standards that pediatric and primary care providers have been following since 1896, making otolaryngology one of the oldest medical specialties in the United States.

“I like to say that ENT specialists treat pretty much everything from the collarbone up, except for the brain and eyes. So much of this work, medical and surgical, affects how people perceive themselves as human beings, and it is a unique privilege to care for my patient’s ENT health due to the personal and profound nature of this specialty.”

- WILLIAM R. BLYTHE, MD

What Conditions Do ENTs Treat?

General otolaryngologists do not limit their practice to any one portion of the head and neck, and can treat a variety of conditions. Some ENT specialists, however, pursue additional training in one of these subspecialty areas:

  • Ears (otology/neurotology)—Hearing and balance are critical to how we conduct our daily lives. ENT specialists treat conditions such as ear infection, hearing loss, dizziness, ringing in the ears (called tinnitus), ear, face, or neck pain, and more.
  • Nose (rhinology)—Our noses facilitate breathing by helping to keep out potentially harmful dirt, allergens, and other agents. In addition to allergies, ENT specialists treat deviated septum, rhinitis, sinusitis, sinus headaches and migraines, nasal obstruction and surgery, and more.
  • Throat (laryngology)—Disorders that affect our ability to speak and swallow properly can have a tremendous impact on our lives and livelihoods. ENT specialists treat sore throat, hoarseness, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), infections, throat tumors, airway and vocal cord disorders, and more.
  • Head and Neck/Thyroid—The head and neck include some of our body’s most vital organs, which can be especially susceptible to tumors and cancer. In addition to cancers of the head and neck, ENT specialists treat neck masses, Grave’s disease, enlarged thyroid glands, and more.
  • Sleep—Being able to breathe and sleep well through the night has an impact on the way we experience life and perform our work. ENT specialists treat sleep-disordered breathing, nasal and airway obstruction, snoring and sleep apnea, and more.
  • Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (coming soon)—Facial trauma and the resulting change in appearance caused by an accident, injury, birth defect, or medical condition side effect can be distressing. ENT specialists in facial plastic surgery treat cleft palates, drooping eyelids, hair loss, ear deformities, facial paralysis, trauma reconstruction, head and neck cancer reconstruction, and revisions of facial cosmetic surgery.
  • Pediatrics—Children and their developing bodies and senses often need special attention. ENT specialists treat birth defects of the head and neck, developmental delays, ear infection, tonsil and adenoid infection, airway problems, asthma and allergy, and more.

How do you say Otolaryngology?

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