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What is an ENT?

July 6, 2023
2 minutes

ENT stands for ear, nose and throat. It refers to the doctors who specialize in treating people with a range of diseases and disorders that involve those three specific body parts.

Formally, ENTs are known as otolaryngologists. Theirs is one of the oldest medical specialties in the U.S.

In addition to ear, nose and throat issues, ENTs handle other problems related to the head and neck. Unlike many other medical specialists, ENTs are trained to provide surgical and medical treatments–not just one or the other.

Why see an ENT?

Among other things, ENTs offer expert, advanced care for:

  • Problems with balance and hearing, ringing in the ears, and ear infections.
  • Sinus troubles, allergies, nasal obstructions, sleep apnea and problems with the sense of smell.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and cancer or other growths in the throat.

ENTs can also perform reconstructive or cosmetic surgery of the face, head and neck. For example, they can repair a cleft palate or deviated septum and remove a polyp or tumor in the nasal area.

Some ENTs specialize in treating children. That can include, for instance, a toddler with a repeat ear or tonsil infection or a newborn with a birth defect involving the head or neck.

If you have a persistent condition involving the ears, nose or throat, ask your primary care doctor if you should see an ENT.

Sources: American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery; American Academy of Pediatrics; American College of Surgeons

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