If you know what the medical specialty otolaryngology, or otorhinolaryngology, is, you’re either a medical professional or you’ve had a lot of problems with your ears, nose or throat.
Otolaryngologists are more commonly known as ENTs — doctors who are ear, nose and throat specialists. These skilled physicians provide medical and surgical services for children and adults who have disorders or diseases of the head and neck.
That’s a summary description of a specialty that treats a big range of ailments. Here are some highlights:
Your eye sockets are the recesses in your skull that are the homes of your eyes. ENTs treat issues such as breaks in the bones around the eye sockets.
This includes injuries to your face or jaw. ENTs treat serious cuts or fractures of your skull, cheekbones or jawbone.
A variety of cancers are treated by the ENT specialist. These include head and neck melanoma, cancers of the mouth, throat and salivary glands, along with sinus cancer.
Two health care specialties focus hearing: audiologists and ENTs. Audiologists treat problems such as age related hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
ENTs treat hearing problems that are caused by issues such as infections, tumors, eardrum injuries and inner-ear problems.
Your voice is created by muscles that can become fatigued, injured or diseased. That can cause problems with your voice. Common problems with the larynx and voice include cancer; vocal cord nodules, polyps or cysts; and hoarseness brought on with age.
Sinus and nasal conditions are pretty common. Problems can arise due to allergies and hay fever, nasal membrane or sinus inflammation, or a deviated septum (your nasal septum is the membrane that divides your nasal cavity in half. In most people, it’s a bit off center, but if it’s far off center, it can create breathing problems and cause repeated sinus infections).
The thyroid is a gland near the base of your neck. It makes hormones that control a lot of functions in your body, including your metabolism. ENTs treat thyroid diseases such as cancer, hyperthyroidism (when the thyroid is overactive) and hypothyroidism (when the thyroid under produces.)
Some might consider snoring to be a simple nuisance. But if it prevents you from getting a good night’s sleep, it can be detrimental to your health.
Sleep apnea is common. It causes your breathing to temporarily stop or get shallow while you sleep and causes long term strain on your heart and lungs.
Both of these issues can be diagnosed and treated by an ENT.
Your throat is divided into two “pipes.” Your windpipe – your trachea – carries air to your lungs. Your esophagus carries food to your stomach. Swallowing disorders can develop in this part of your body.
As you can see, an ear, nose and throat specialist can help you with a lot of medical concerns. This list only touches on some of the ways an ENT can help you live well.
If you have questions about the health of your ears, nose or throat, see a otolaryngologist — an ear, nose and throat specialist.
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