Ear, Nose And Throat Basics
Ear, Nose And Throat Basics
Jason Hamilton (Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon) gives expert video advice on: What disorders are treated by otolaryngologists?; When should I consult an otolaryngologist? and more...
What is "otolaryngology"?
Otolaryngology is the practice of medicine and surgery for the treatment of disorders of the ear, nose, throat, head and neck. The real name used is Otorhinolaryngology, but they took the rhino out because it didn't sound that aesthetically pleasing.
What disorders are treated by otolaryngologists?
Otolaryngologists treat patients with breathing problems or sinusitis. They also treat allergy. They treat problems with hearing and dizziness. Otolaryngologists also treat patients who have problems with swallowing or voice disorders. They treat tumors that are involved with the head and neck region in general. Otolaryngologists treat pediatric and adult patients. They also provide services such as cosmetic and facioplastic surgery to help reconstruct patients who might have had cancer surgeries or just want to look better and improve their appearance.
What is an "ENT" or "Ear, Nose and Throat" physician, and is it the same as an otolaryngologist?
An otolaryngologist and an ENT physician are the same. Some otolaryngologists who just practice general otolaryngology refer to themselves as ENTs. Otolaryngologists who practice the subspecialties will either call themselves a laryngologist if they do voice, or they'll call themselves a rhinologist if they deal with the nose and sinuses or allergy, or a facioplastic surgeon if they deal with reconstructive and cosmetic surgery.
What kind of special training do otolaryngologists receive?
Otolaryngologists train in medicine and surgery for five years; that is mandatory. After that training, many otalryngologists go on to complete one to two year fellowships in a sub-specialty within otolaryngology. Those sub-specialties allow the physician to practice solely in that particular area. For example, otologists will practice only in the treatment of ear disorders, or a laryngologist will practice only in the area of voice. Doctors who do fellowships have a real passion about the area that they decide to do a fellowship in, and they want to do extra training so that they can focus just on that when they're done with their general otolaryngology training.
What are the subspecialties, or special areas of expertise, of otolaryngology?
The subspecialties of otolaryngology include pediatric otolaryngology, allergy, rhinology, laryngology, head and neck surgery, facial plastics and reconstructive surgery, and otology.
When should I consult an otolaryngologist?
An otolaryngologist has the advantage of treating patients for medical and surgical disorders. A patient should consult an otolaryngologist when they feel that any problems with their nose, throat or ears has been going on for more than a 2-week period. They can consult with their general medical doctor, or they can see the otolaryngologist initially, because the otolaryngologist is an expert in medicine and surgical disorders of the head and neck. 60-70% of all visits to primary care physicians are for sinus, cold, sore throat or ear problems, and an otolaryngologist can treat those as well. Seeing an otolaryngologist, if you've had any problems with these areas for more than a 2-week period, would mean that something has probably advanced and needs to be seen by a specialist.