7 Things Your Ear, Nose and Throat Doctor Wants You to Know

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Katie Lambert on April 11, 2021
  • Doctor
    Real Advice from ENT Doctors
    From the neck up, excluding the brain, is the domain of otolaryngology, or the study of diseases of the ear, nose and throat. So-called "ENT" doctors also treat conditions of the head and neck. But ear, nose and throat doctors do much more than just examine tonsils and insert ear tubes. Here are seven things ENT doctors told us they wish their patients knew.
  • Doctor examining man's neck
    1. "ENT issues are very common."
    "Approximately 1 out of 4 patients who see their primary care physician have an ENT-related complaint," says Dr. Hao “Mimi” Tran, a board-certified adult and pediatric otolaryngologist with The Ear, Nose, Throat & Plastic Surgery Associates in Orlando, Fla. "Some of the most common problems include recurrent ear, nose and/or throat infections, impacted ear wax, allergies, nasal blockage, hearing loss, voice change, difficulty swallowing, an abnormal growth in the head and neck present for more than 2 weeks, and dizziness,” Dr. Tran says. "If an ENT issue is not cleared up with initial treatment, then seeing a specialist can be beneficial."
  • Ear exam
    2. "ENT complaints are often very treatable."
    "So many people, I feel, have simply learned to live with their conditions and relegated themselves to a subpar quality of life because of this," says Dr. Tim Simplot, a board-certified otolaryngologist at the Iowa ENT Center. "People often think of ENT doctors as only dealing with tonsil issues and ear tubes. We are so much more and can offer many more services to help people feel their best," Dr. Simplot says."Patients are always amazed when I show them how much better their breathing can be through the nose with easy interventions. The looks on people’s faces can be very rewarding when you first truly open the nose up and show them what real airflow is meant to be."
  • Surgeons
    3. "ENTs are surgeons."
    "People should know that we are surgeons and not just medical practitioners," says Dr. Brian Moore, chairman of Ear Nose and Throat at Ochsner Health System. "In addition to treating common ailments of the head and neck, like sinus infections and hearing loss, ENT physicians also perform surgery on the face, nose/sinuses, throat, thyroid and parathyroid glands, salivary glands, and soft tissues of the neck," Dr. Moore says. "This includes the removal of benign and malignant tumors of the mouth and throat, thyroid/parathyroid glands, salivary glands, and skin cancers. [We also perform] hearing loss and ear-related procedures, facial reconstruction for congenital, traumatic, or cancer-related problems, and voice and swallowing disorders."
  • Child with doctor
    4. "But we do a lot of non-surgical work, too."
    "We are not just a surgical specialty," says Dr. Tran. "Most ear, nose and throat problems can be handled successfully with non-surgical options. A knowledgeable ENT doctor can provide a full spectrum of treatment options and address the patient's concerns."
  • Patient and doctor
    5. "Sometimes treatment requires both surgery and medication."
    "Otolaryngologists treat patients with both medical and surgical therapies," says Dr. Cristina Cabrera-Muffly, assistant professor in the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. "For example, patients with nasal congestion may have allergies, a deviated septum (where the cartilage that divides the two sides of the nose curves to one side or the other), sinusitis, or a combination of these problems," Dr. Cabrera-Muffly says. "Depending on what the problem is, we can treat these patients with medications, allergy shots, or surgery to make more room inside the nose and relieve symptoms."
  • Teen girl has ear examined
    6. "ENTs specialize, so find the right one for you."
    "Within the field of otolaryngology, there are fellowship-trained specialties such as pediatrics, sleep apnea, laryngology (voice conditions), sinus surgery, neurotology (ear problems), facial plastic surgery and head and neck cancer," says Dr. Tran. "I recommend that patients look for a doctor who has experience in your specific condition. Also, it is good to have a trusting relationship with your ENT doctor. So make sure to express your concerns and questions so there can be a two-way conversation."
  • woman talking to male doctor
    7. "Technology is changing everything."
    "Technology has greatly expanded the treatments available for our patients," says Dr. Cabrera-Muffly. "For many years now, cameras and microscopes have helped us do surgery in the ear, nose and throat without any external scars. Hearing aids have become digital, much smaller, and more effective. Cochlear implants allow us to treat patients with severe hearing loss," she says. "One of the newest innovations is a hypoglossal nerve stimulator that can be used to treat sleep apnea. This device brings the tongue forward when the patient is sleeping to decrease the collapse in the throat that causes blockage in patients with sleep apnea." Dr. Tran adds, "The trend is moving towards offering minimally invasive options that can be performed in the office, such as in-office balloon dilation for sinus obstruction and laser treatment for vocal cord lesions."
Things Your Ear, Nose and Throat Doctor Wants You to Know

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Last Review Date: 2021 Apr 11
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.