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Otolaryngology is the branch of medicine that deals with disorders of the ear, nose and throat. Otolaryngologists, also known as ENT doctors, have been trained in the treatment of patients with disorders of the ear, nose and throat.
Subspecialties of Otolaryngology
Otolaryngologists provide services in this area by treating patients with ear, nose and throat sensitivities to dust, mold, pollen or pet dander. Most treatments involve medication or injections. ENT physicians treat seasonal allergies, chronic rhinitis, laryngitis or sinusitis, sore throat, dizziness and infection of the middle ear.
Otolaryngologists who specialize in laryngology focus their attention on disorders of the throat, concerning themselves with diagnosing and treating disorders of the voice and swallowing difficulties. Such physicians treat chronic sore throats, hoarseness, gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, and infections and tumors of the larynx.
Otologists specialize in diagnosing and treating disorders affecting balance and hearing. ENT physicians commonly treat ear, neck or face pain, dizziness, tinnitus, swimmer’s ear, ear infections and loss of hearing.
Pediatric otolaryngologists specialize in the ENT problems of children. These may include birth defects of the head and neck, developmental delays, ear infections, asthma or other airway problems, allergy or sinus disease, neck tumors or tonsil and adenoid infections.
Rhinologists specialize in diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the nose and sinuses. They commonly treat frequent nose bleeds, loss of smell, sinus problems and nasal polyps and tumors.
Common Conditions Treated by Otolaryngologists
Otolaryngologists are trained in the medical and surgical treatment of hearing loss whether it results from congenital defect, ear infections, balance disorders, tinnitus, a ringing in the ears, and problems with balance. Approximately 10 percent of the population is affected by hearing loss at some point in life.
Otolaryngologists are trained to treat problems of the nose which may include allergies, smell disorders and nasal obstructions due to polyps or a deviated septum.
Disorders of the Throat
The throat is a vital body part both in terms of ingestion of food and communication. Part of the specialty of otolaryngology involves a focus on the region of the throat, including the larynx and the upper section of the esophagus. This means that otolaryngologists are concerned with disorders of speech, singing and swallowing.
Disorders of the Head and Neck
Otolaryngologists are also trained in the diagnosis and treatment of certain conditions of the head and neck area, which may include the following:
- Sight, smell and hearing
- Appearance of the face
- Tumors, both malignant and benign
- Deformities of the face, such as cleft lip
- National Institutes of Health
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
- U.S. National Library of Medicine
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