When a doctor specializes in diagnosing and treating medical issues affecting the ears, nose, and throat, they are often known as an ENT or otolaryngologist.
This medical specialty was formed in the 19th century when doctors started to understand that the ears, nose, and throat are connected by a system of passages and tubes. Previously, general physicians were the go-to providers for these conditions.
But, as this specialty emerged in the medical industry, doctors began to develop unique treatment options that address these specific issues. Now, there are a variety of tools, tests, and services that are available through ENTs to help with many different upper respiratory conditions.
Types of Medical Conditions Treated by an ENT Doctor
The good news is that ENTs can offer treatments and surgery for a wide range of medical concerns.
- Ears: Hearing loss, infections, or vertigo (difficulty with balance)
- Nose and Sinuses: Congestion, allergies, sinus infections, or polyps
- Throat: Voice problems, tonsillitis, or difficulty swallowing
- Sleep Apnea: Or any other airway problems while sleeping
- Tumors: Either malignant or benign growths in the face, neck, or head
- Infections: Any type of infection in the face, neck, or head (bacterial, fungal, viral, etc.)
ENTs focus on the upper respiratory tract specifically. Depending on the condition, sometimes it makes sense for an ENT to work hand-in-hand with another medical specialist, such as a neurologist or eye doctor.
When a Primary Care Physician Isn’t Enough
There are many times when patients visit a primary care physician for issues affecting their ears, nose, and throat. A generalist can offer basic, standard care. But they will often refer people to a specialist if more in-depth diagnostics or treatments are needed.
In fact, nearly half of the visits to a primary care provider could be handled by an ENT. Many of the symptoms include nasal congestion, sore throat, ear problems, and more.
A primary care physician might offer initial treatments, then send you to an ENT if you aren’t achieving the relief that you desire. Or some patients visit an ENT directly when they know they are dealing with a chronic condition or need specialized care.
Minimally-Invasive Treatments, Surgery, and More
Many ENTs have experience with surgical treatments. But just because you are visiting a surgeon doesn’t mean that you will need to go under the knife.
In fact, our team of specialists prefers to use minimally-invasive treatments first. Then, if more intensive services are needed, we might recommend surgery or another treatment that is more intensive.
We take a personalized approach for every patient, ensuring you receive the hands-on care you deserve. Rest assured, knowing that we don’t use a cookie-cutter approach for treatment. Instead, our goal is to get to the root of the problem so that we can design the ideal treatment plan for your unique needs.
Since You Should Visit an ENT Doctor
How do you know you should visit an ENT doctor instead of a primary care provider? Watch for these signs for yourself or a loved one.
Chronic Ear Problems
Do you have a child with chronic or repetitive earaches or infections? Young children are at a higher risk for these infections due to the shape and size of the delicate parts of the ear (the eustachian tubes and middle ears).
ENT doctors look for the root cause contributing to the development of ear infections. For example, there are often situations where treating allergies, flu, or a cold will clear up the ears, and the symptoms subside.
Or, it might be necessary to place ear tubes to help with fluid drainage, preventing ear infections and pain.
Another common reason to visit an ENT is because of hearing loss. You might notice small changes in your hearing. Or, sometimes, sudden hearing loss occurs and is a cause for concern.
Do you find that you are always turning up the volume on the TV or radio? Or, maybe you have a hard time understanding when other people are talking to you. These seemingly small signs of hearing loss should be acknowledged.
It’s smart to schedule a hearing test with a local provider. It might be a simple fix to clear earwax or treat an ear infection. Or you might need to start using hearing devices such as hearing aids.
Tinnitus (Ringing in the Ears)
Do you have difficulty paying attention to daily activities because you are distracted by a constant ringing in the ears? These recurring issues can feel frustrating – especially when you don’t know the underlying cause.
Unfortunately, doctors are still looking for a way to cure tinnitus. But, if you are experiencing these symptoms regularly, it can be helpful to talk to an ENT to see if there is an underlying diagnosis that needs to be treated.
Plus, an ENT can help with management strategies to minimize how tinnitus affects your life.
Vertigo or Dizziness
The inner ear plays an important role to help you maintain balance. If something goes wrong with the inner ear, then you might experience problems with dizziness.
Often, vertigo is a short-term situation related to a temporary situation, such as a medication you are using or the development of a migraine.
But some patients have ongoing vertigo that could be caused by calcium crystals in the inner ear that aren’t in their normal position. These crystals can move when a patient bends over or changes their head position.
One of the most common reasons to visit an ENT is chronic sinus problems. If you have congestion that never goes away or are living with recurring sinus infections, then it’s important to talk to a specialist.
Our office has ENTs specializing in sinuses, giving you access to top-notch care and proven treatments to alleviate these symptoms.
Other ENT Conditions
There are many other reasons why you might choose to visit an ENT.
- Sore throat
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Lumps in the neck or head
- Sleep apnea
- Vocal problems
- Recurring sore throat
How to Find an ENT
There are two common methods for finding an ENT doctor. The first solution is to talk to your primary care physician to get a referral.
Or you can take matters into your own hands and find a local specialist who offers the unique treatments and services you need.
The most important thing is to check with your insurance provider to ensure that coverage is available for your appointment and treatments.
If you are looking for a local ENT doctor in Collin County or Dallas, Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat is the team to contact. We offer two nearby offices in Frisco and Plano, TX. You can complete our online form to request an appointment or call us at your convenience: (972) 596-4005.