Runny noses, earaches and sinus headaches may not seem like serious health conditions. You may be tempted to ignore these symptoms. Maybe you just notice your runny nose in the morning but by the time lunch rolls around it is gone. Maybe you think those ear infections are because you get water in your ears in the shower. You might decide to talk to your family doctor about these symptoms, but the otolaryngologist (ENT) doctor is the doctor you need to see if you have problems related to your ears, nose or throat.

The ENT doctor is a specialist

The ENT doctor’s specialty is diseases and injury related to the ears, nose and throat. ENT doctors complete medical school like all doctors. Then ENTs study their special field for five more years. In addition to their training in disease and injury, ENTs are also trained as surgeons. It is only after the five years in their special training that they can take the ENT certification exam. This examination is conducted by the American Board of Otolaryngology.

Once certified, ENT doctors see many different types of illnesses and injuries. In the course of a normal day they can see cases related to:

  • Ears. This can be everything from a suspected hearing impairment to an ear ache from an infection. ENTs also treat balance disorders and tinnitus.
  • Nose. Problems with the nose, nasal cavity and sinuses can cause serious problems with breathing and the ability to smell. Chronic sinusitis, nasal polyps and allergies can make you miserable during the day. Obstructions in the airways can be the cause of sleep apnea, another condition treated by the ENT doctor.
  • Throat. These conditions can affect your speech, singing, eating, swallowing and digestion. Chronic hoarseness and laryngitis are other conditions related to the throat that are treated by ENT doctors.
  • Neck and Head. ENTs are trained in the treatment of tumors, trauma and deformities of the head and neck. This includes the salivary glands too. As skilled surgeons, ENTs can also perform reconstructive and corrective surgery as well.

Additional ENT specialties

After finishing their medical school training and five years of ENT training, some ENTs decide to complete an additional two years of training to specialize in a special field of ear, nose, and throat related conditions. These specialties include:

  • Pediatric otolaryngology for children’s ear, nose, and throat conditions
  • Otology/neurotology/audiology for treatment of balance disorders and tinnitus
  • Allergy
  • Facial plastic and reconstructive surgery
  • Head and neck surgery for problems with tumors of the head and neck
  • Laryngology
  • Rhinology

See the ENT for help

If you have a runny nose that won’t go away; it might not be a stubborn cold it could be allergies. An ENT doctor can work to identify your allergen triggers and prescribe an allergy control program.

If you have sinus headaches more than just a few times a year you may have chronic sinusitis. Chronic sinusitis needs aggressive treatment and the ENT is the doctor to see. The ENT can determine the cause of the recurrent infections and prescribe treatment that can include medication or surgery.

Ringing in the ears can be a sign of hearing loss. The ENT can evaluate your condition and even perform hearing tests. Many ENTs provide hearing aid fitting services as well.

If you have a ear, nose, or throat condition it’s time to see the doctor. Don’t suffer any longer; see your local ENT.