Finding the Best ENT Treatment

How to Find an Otolarygologist to Treat Ear, Nose, or Throat Conditions

ENT exam
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Although general practitioners and pediatricians treat a number of ear, nose, and throat (ENT) disorders, your family doctor may not feel comfortable treating your condition and may refer you to an ENT specialist. ENT doctors are also called otolaryngologists. Seeking out a specialist on your own may also be helpful if you are not satisfied with the care you have received, need a second opinion, or want more information than your general practitioner can provide.

Types of Otolaryngologists—ENT Specialists

Otolaryngologists are physicians who begin their training with four years of college and four years of medical school. Then they enter five years of residency training in their specialty. Unlike many other specialties, they are trained both in surgery and medicine. They must pass an examination by the American Board of Otolaryngology. Many also then complete a fellowship in a subspecialty area. You can find ENTs who specialize in these areas:

  • Allergies that affect the ear, nose, and throat
  • Facial plastic and reconstructive surgery, including facelifts and nose jobs
  • Head and neck disorders including cancers and tumors of the thyroid or voice box
  • Laryngology—disorders of the throat including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and swallowing problems
  • Otology/nuerotology—disorders of the ear including hearing loss, infection, and tinnitus
  • Pediatric otolaryngology—focusing on children needing treatment for birth defects, ear infection, tonsillitis, asthma, and allergies
  • Rhinology—disorders affecting the nose and sinuses

Finding an ENT Specialist

If you have been referred to an ENT specialist by your family doctor, he or she probably already has a specific doctor in mind. If not, you can use the directory from the American Academy of Otolaryngology to find a list of ENT specialists in your area.

ENT Treatments Provided By Otolaryngologists

The best ENT treatment will vary according to what type of problems or symptoms you are having. An advantage of treatment by an ENT specialist is that these physicians can either treat you medically or perform surgery. Your treatment may begin with medication and lifestyle modifications. But if you need surgery, the ENT can perform it rather than needing to refer you to a surgeon.

Widening Your Treatment Team

In some cases, an ENT specialist may diagnose your problem, but ultimately send you to another specialist for treatment. For example, many ENT doctors will diagnose cancer of the head and neck. They may surgically remove tumors and then send you to an oncologist for radiation or chemotherapy. Likewise, some children with chronic ear infections may have delayed speech development. In these cases, the ENT specialist and a speech pathologist may work together as a team to treat the child. Your ENT doctor can assist you in seeking out other medical specialists.

A Word From Verywell

Prevention is the best treatment for any disease, but if you find yourself experiencing an ENT disorder, remember that information is powerful. Make sure you find a physician who involves you in the treatment of your condition. You are your best advocate.