On Your Health

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What is an ENT?

10 August 2018

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If you experience chronic ear infections, nasal congestion or chronic hoarseness, you may be a candidate to see a specialist. An otolaryngologist is an ear, nose and throat doctor, otherwise known as an “ENT” for short. Many people aren’t exactly sure why they might need to go see an ENT, so we’re here to give you an earful (pardon the pun).

What is an ENT, anyway?

ENTs are physicians trained to treat patients with diseases and disorders of the ear, nose or throat­­. Otolaryngologists diagnose, manage diseases and surgically treat conditions of the ears, nose, sinuses, larynx, mouth and throat.

ENTs also often specialize in head and neck complications as corrective surgeries because they are trained in both medicine and surgery.

What do ENTs treat?

The more aware you are of your symptoms, the faster you’ll be on the path to resolving them. Here’s a look at some common symptoms ENTs treat.

Ear - ENTs are trained in the medical and surgical treatment of hearing loss, ear infections, ear pain, tinnitus, eardrum perforations, ear drainage and ear pain.

Nose - Treatment of the nasal cavity and sinuses are key skills of otolaryngologists. This includes nasal congestion, nose bleeds, nasal polyps, chronic sinus infections and chronic allergies.

Neck and Throat - ENTs are trained to identify and treat chronic tonsillitis, hoarseness, airway issues, snoring disorders, Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), thyroid problems and neck masses.

Common symptoms that may signal a visit to an ENT

We spoke with Dr. Wendy McConnell, DO, a board certified and fellowship trained otolaryngologist with INTEGRIS, about common symptoms to look for that may warrant a visit to an ENT doctor.

“Typically, if you experience hoarseness that lasts longer than six weeks, especially someone with tobacco history, talk with your primary health physician to help refer you to an ENT specialist,” McConnell says. “Additionally, keep an eye out for persistent enlarged cervical lymph nodes or unilateral nasal symptoms (like congestion/obstruction or anterior or posterior nasal drainage), as these symptoms may need to be further diagnosed.”

Other symptoms to look for include:

  • Severe sinus pain that causes pain on the face, upper teeth or your ears.
  • A constant sore throat that does not go away, even after doctor visits and antibiotics.
  • Severe headaches that could be chronic sinusitis.
  • Hearing loss.

Oklahoma allergies and how ENTs can help

Many Oklahomans suffer from allergies, and for chronic sufferers ENTs can help find a solution.  “Allergies and sinus infections are definitely linked,” McConnell says. “I can help maximize a patient’s allergy therapy and then refer them to an allergist if allergy shots or testing are necessary.”  Read more about how allergies can affect asthma.

When you have a problem in your ear, nose or throat, it can cause a wide variety of complex, interrelated conditions. If you are interested in learning more about your symptoms, contact one of our INTEGRIS specialists.