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What is an Otolaryngologist?
By Christine DeMason, MD
An otolaryngologist is a physician who takes care of diseases of the ears, nose, mouth and neck. Most people know otolaryngologist as an ENT or Ears, Nose and Throat doctor. Otolaryngologist take care of both children and adults.
The official title is Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery, as they treat both the medical and surgical disorders of the head and neck, splitting time between seeing patients in clinic and in the operating room. Otolaryngologist treat a variety of diseases including hearing loss, hoarseness, tonsillitis, sinusitis and allergies (see list below).
Within otolaryngology, there are subspecialist who focus on certain aspects on ENT. These include
- Otology (ear diseases)
- Rhinology (nose and sinus diseases)
- Facial plastics (reconstructive treatment of face, ears and nose)
- Head and neck oncology (cancers of the head and neck)
- Laryngology (voice and swallowing disorders)
- Pediatrics (children with ENT problems)
These fellowships are typically 1-2 years after completing an Otolaryngology residency. On the other hand, a general otolaryngologist treats all aspects of ENT and usually sends complex patients to these subspecialists if need be.
To receive full certification from the American Board of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery (ABOto), applicants must complete college, medical school and a 5-year residency in Otolaryngology and then pass a written and oral examination.
What do Otolaryngologist Treat?
Here are some of the common diseases that Otolaryngologist treat but by no means a complete list.
Ear related diseases such as
- Hearing loss
- Ear infections
- Vertigo/balance disorders
Nose/Allergies diseases such as
- Allergic rhinitis
- Nasal obstruction
- Nasal trauma
- Epistaxis/nose bleeds
- Smell disorder
Throat disorders such as
- Hoarseness and voice changes
- Swallowing difficulties
- Deep neck infections
Head and Neck disorders such as
- Salivary gland diseases
- Thyroid nodules
- Oral and laryngeal (voice box) cancers
- Sleep apnea