Commonly called ENTs, otolaryngologists are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions involving the ears, nose, throat, head and neck. The specialization often includes work with hearing loss, balance disorders, sinus problems, allergies, head/neck cancers, facial plastics and some sleep conditions. Their patients range in age from infant to adult. Otolaryngologists commonly perform surgeries and procedures.
What do otolaryngologists treat?
The ears—Hearing loss affects one in ten North Americans. The unique domain of otolaryngologists is the treatment of ear disorders. They are trained in both the medical and surgical treatment of hearing loss, ear infections, balance disorders, ear noise (tinnitus), and some cranial nerve disorders. Otolaryngologists also manage congenital (birth) disorders of the outer and inner ear.
The nose—About 35 million people develop chronic sinusitis each year, making it one of the most common health complaints in America. Care of the nasal cavity and sinuses is one of the primary skills of otolaryngologists. Problems in the nasal area include allergies, smell disorders, polyps, and nasal obstruction due to a deviated septum. Otolaryngologists can also correct the appearance of the nose (rhinoplasty surgery).
The throat—Communicating (speech and singing) and eating a meal all involve this vital area. Specific to otolaryngologists is expertise in managing diseases of the throat, larynx (voice box), and the upper aero-digestive tract or esophagus, including voice and swallowing disorders.
The head and neck—This area of the body includes the important functions of sight, smell, hearing, and the appearance of the face. In the head and neck area, otolaryngologists are trained to treat infections, benign (non-cancerous) and malignant (cancerous) tumors, facial trauma, and deformities of the face.
Otolaryngologists diagnose and treat many conditions, including:
Facial nerve paralysis and injuries
Nasal breathing problems
Loss or change of sense of smell and taste
Throat and voice disorders
Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD
Sleep disturbances (including snoring and sleep apnea problems)
Tumors (both cancerous and noncancerous)
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