What is an ENT
(Ear Nose and Throat Doctor)
An ear, nose, and throat doctor (ENT) specializes in everything having to do with those parts of the body. They’re also called otolaryngologists.
What Does an ENT do?
ENTs deal with anything that has to do with the head, neck, and ears in adults and children, including:
- The adenoids and tonsils
- The thyroid
- The sinuses
- The larynx
- The mouth
- The throat
- Ear tubes
- Ear surgeries
- Cancers of the head, neck, and throat
- Reconstructive and cosmetic surgery on the head and neck
Reasons to See an ENT
Long-term (chronic) throat, ear, or sinus issues
Ear infections are one of the most common reasons why parents take kids to the doctor. ENTs usually treat them with antibiotics, but if the infections keep coming back, they may recommend surgery.
Tonsillitis is an infection of the tonsils. Again, doctors often treat it with antibiotics, but if it persists, they may recommend that you get your tonsils taken out.
Sinus problems that last more than 4 months are called chronic sinusitis. ENTs can help get to the bottom of the issue and treat the underlying problem.
Hearing loss is normal as you age. But sudden hearing problems can be a sign of something more serious. Either way, an otolaryngologist will be able to figure out what’s going on and help you get any treatments you need to hear better. If you need hearing aids, your ENT may send you to an audiologist to get fitted for them.
A lump in your neck
A lump in the neck that lasts more than 2 weeks could be a sign of mouth, throat, thyroid, or blood cancer. Cancers that start in these areas often spread to the lymph nodes in your throat first.
A lump is different from swollen lymph nodes, which can also be a sign of a serious illness but often happen due to common conditions like strep throat or an ear infection.
A child who is a heavy snorer
Snoring is common in adults but unusual in children. It may not be a sign of a serious problem, but it’s best to talk to your pediatrician about whether they recommend seeing an ENT. It may be a sign of sleep apnea, which can lead to a problem with bones in the face, or bedwetting.