Ear, Nose & Throat

Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) vs. Primary Care

written by Becki Andrus
Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) vs. Primary Care

From sore throats to ear infections (and everything in between), there are many reasons why you might schedule an appointment with a primary care physician. While general services are available from your regular doctor, there are times when it makes sense to visit with an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist instead.

A primary care doctor is an excellent resource for many different health concerns. For example, regular visits are recommended for annual checkups and other routine medical care.

How do you know when it’s time to see a specialist instead of your primary care physician? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

General Medical Care vs. Specialized ENT Services

Knowing which type of doctor to see is a personal decision. This choice depends on the level of care you receive from a primary care physician and whether you have moderate, severe, or chronic health concerns that require specialized care.

When you visit a primary care physician, they can look at everything and offer general treatments. But, if the symptoms don’t clear up with basic medical care or the health problems are beyond the scope of services from the primary provider, then it’s likely that your doctor will refer you to see a specialist.

Doctors that specialize in the ears, nose, and throat are known as otolaryngologists. They continue beyond medical school to receive additional training and expertise in health conditions affecting these parts of the body.

Since ENTs train for years, they have better insights and experience to know the best solutions for diagnosing and treating patients with related health concerns.

The Difference Between a Primary Care Doctor and an ENT

Both types of doctors have medical training, but there are differences in the specialties they offer:

Primary Care Doctor

When a doctor offers primary care services, it means they are qualified and experienced in taking care of general health concerns. These types of doctors are the best resource for checkups, vaccinations, and treating minor injuries and illnesses.

Even though a primary care doctor can provide services for a range of health conditions, there are times when it makes sense to refer a patient to a specialist. Their referral is common when the health concern isn’t responding to treatment.

ENT (Otolaryngologist)

Ear, nose, and throat specialists go through medical school – similar to a primary care doctor. Once this education is complete, they continue training under industry specialists to learn more specifically about the ears, nose, and throat.

This continued training for another few years means that ENTs have knowledge and insights that go far beyond the general medical services available from a primary care physician. ENTs work with the ears, nose, and throat all day long. As a result, they have much more hands-on experience with illnesses and injuries affecting these parts of the body.

Moving from PCP to ENT Services

There’s no doubt that your primary care physician can write a prescription to treat a sore throat or ear infection. But there are times when it makes sense to visit an ENT instead.

For example, if you take your child to a primary care physician multiple times a year for ear infections, consider choosing an ENT instead. These specialized services can help you get to the root of the problem and avoid ongoing health issues in the future.

Sometimes, the primary care physician will provide a referral for you to see a specialist. Or you also have the option to seek out a local ENT if you feel like specialized services are required. However, you don’t need a referral to schedule a visit with a local ENT in most situations.

Services Available from an ENT

ENTs can assist with health conditions affecting the upper respiratory system, including both the head and neck. Most of the services fall within a few specific categories:


ENTs not only recognize and treat ear infections, but they can also assist with chronic conditions affecting the ears. Other conditions relating to the ears include balance issues and vertigo.

Additionally, you should visit an ENT clinic for hearing issues and hearing testing. The doctor will determine if hearing loss is related to an injury or illness, then help you find the ideal treatment to restore or improve your hearing if possible.


Open airways are essential for breathing and comfort. Suppose there is a blockage in the nasal passages or sinuses. It can lead to sinus infections that are both painful and potentially serious if the infection is left untreated.

An ENT can help you get to the root cause of recurring sinus infections. For example, you might have polyps or growths in the sinus cavities that are causing complications. ENTs can also treat other structural issues, such as deviated septums.


Many different illnesses can affect the throat, and all of these conditions can be treated by an ENT: the flu, common cold, bronchitis, bacterial infections, and more. Minor symptoms are usually managed using at-home treatments and over-the-counter remedies.

But don’t hesitate to reach out to an ENT if you have chronic symptoms affecting the throat. An ENT will help you identify other health conditions that are contributing to your symptoms, such as acid reflux, vocal cord issues, strep, or even cancer.

ENTs can also assist with minor surgical procedures, such as removing the adenoids or tonsils if necessary.

ENT Expertise

When choosing an ENT, choosing a doctor who offers expertise specific to your unique health conditions makes sense. ENTs can specialize in otolaryngology, offering a variety of specialized services:

  • Allergies: Seasonal and ongoing
  • Sleep disorders: Such as sleep apnea
  • Rhinology: Trauma and diseases affecting the nose
  • Pediatrics: ENT services for children and youth under the age of 18
  • Otology/Neurotology: Ear trauma and disease
  • Laryngology: Throat conditions
  • Neck and Head: Tumors (both cancerous and noncancerous)
  • Surgery: Reconstructive treatments for both trauma and cosmetic purposes

The good news is that many ENTs provide services for people of all ages. So, you can choose a specialist in the area who offers services for the entire family.

Schedule an ENT Consultation

Is it time for you to see a specialist instead of your primary care provider? Reach out to our team at Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat to meet with a doctor for an examination and conversation. We offer services for families in and around Collin County and Dallas.

Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat is a well-known provider in the local industry, with offices in Frisco and Plano, TX. Complete our online form when you are ready for an appointment, or call our office at (972) 596-4005tel:(972) 596-4005.

Our clients' stories

We find our patients’ experiences the most rewarding part of the job. Without them, we wouldn’t be one of the longest standing ENT practices in the area!

“We consulted Dr Tseng based on our pediatrician's recommendation. He's so great a doctor who took time to explain us everything and genuinely guided us in the right direction. He's such a caring, genuine and knowledgeable doctor. Oh how I wish there were more like him! ”

Hetal U. user icon

“I have used Collin Co. ENT and Dr. Kenny Carter for over 3 years, primarily for ear problems. The staff has been consistently helpful and friendly to me. When I have had problems needing immediate attention and explained the need, have been able to get an appointment within a reasonable time to address the problem. I recommend Dr. Carter and his staff.”

Stan B. user icon

“Dr. Matheny performed 2 surgeries on my wife, both were successful with great results. He is not only a great surgeon, but a great person. It was a pleasure working with him. One of the best doctors we have ever seen in our lives.”

Mehrdad M. user icon
Make an appointment