An ENT doctor is a specialist who works with the ear, nose, and throat. An ENT specialist, also called an otolaryngologist, is trained in both medicine and surgery. While primary care physicians can sometimes treat certain ear, nose, and throat issues, ENTs have trained to care for the more serious and complex issues.
What Conditions Does an ENT Treat?
ENT doctors have expertise in the following areas:
· Facial surgery such as plastic and reconstructive surgery
· Head and neck, including both cancerous and noncancerous tumors
· Throat conditions
· Ear diseases and injuries
· Nose diseases and injuries
· Sleep disorders
· Birth defects and childhood diseases of the head or neck
Your primary care physician may be able to treat certain issues pertaining to the ear, nose, and throat such as ringing in the ears, vertigo, and sinusitis, but if your primary care physician believes the condition is complex, they will refer you to an ENT specialist for diagnosis and treatment.
When Should I See an ENT?
Some patients might not have an ENT, so it is always okay to start by making an appointment first with your primary care physician who can make your referral to an ENT and advise you. The following are a few conditions that you might go directly to an ENT for:
· Sudden hearing loss
· Chronic ear infections, especially in children
· Chronic sore throats, tonsil problems, and difficulty swallowing
· Chronic nose issues such as nose bleeds, deviated septa, breathing problems, and sinus conditions
· Lump in the neck
· Hoarse voice for longer than six weeks, which could be a sign of vocal cord lesions, larynx cancer, or gastroesophageal reflux
If you suffer from any of these issues and think you may need to see an ENT specialist, ask your primary care physician to refer you to one. Some medical insurances require a referral before they will pay for specialist visits, and your doctor can recommend an ENT doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment that you need.