What Is An ENT?
An ear, nose, and throat specialist, also known as an ENT or otolaryngologist, is a doctor who possesses a set of specialized skills. Those who work within this field diagnose and treat a wide variety of conditions related to the ears, nose, and throat. ENTs may treat acute conditions, or they may work in primary care, providing services to both adults and children.
When a condition is severe, the ENT doctor determines the cause and then finds the right method of treatment for the individual. Otolaryngology specialists also provide checkups, perform surgeries, and test for many diseases associated with the head.
What Conditions Do ENTs Treat?
There are numerous ear-related conditions that are treated by ENT doctors. When working with the ears, these doctors identify, evaluate, and correct many clinical problems. They use different devices or surgery to treat conditions such as hearing loss, ear infections, nerve damage, malformations, balance disorders, and even birth disorders that affect both the inner or outer area of the ear.
Problems involving the nose are also treated by ENTs, such as deviated septum, malformation, nerve disorders, chronic sinusitis, and smell and sensory issues. They can also treat allergies and breathing problems that are the result of a problem with the nasal cavity.
Treatment of the throat area involves cancer, speech problems, and vocal issues, as well as eating disabilities and speaking limitations. ENTs also treat infections of the throat that are acute or chronic, and perform surgery as necessary.
What Services Do ENTs Offer?
ENTs use different tools, devices, and techniques in order to detect problems occurring within the ear, nose, and/or throat. Through diagnostic measures, the doctor can find the root of the problem and determine the best method of treatment. These specialists treat various health conditions through the use of medication, medical devices, and in some cases, they use corrective surgery. ENTs often find it necessary to operate because of an internal issue or to provide reconstructive surgery on congenital birth defects.
Common Reasons To Visit An ENT
- A lump in the neck
- Change in voice
- A growth in the mouth
- Spitting up blood
- Difficulty swallowing
- Changes in the skin
- Persistent earache
- Recurrent sinusitis
- Persistent allergies
- Deviated septum
- Loss of smell
- Hearing problems
What Is An Audiologist?
Audiologists are healthcare professionals who evaluate, diagnose, treat, and manage hearing loss and hearing conditions like tinnitus and balance disorders. An audiologist holds a minimum of a Master’s degree in Audiology. Professionals seeking education in Audiology who do not currently hold a Master’s degree must now pursue a Doctoral degree in Audiology (Au.D). Audiologists must be licensed in the state where they practice, and are regulated by the Division of Consumer Affairs.
An audiologist may be awarded the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), otherwise known as the CCC-A. With additional training and expertise, the audiologist may receive the honor of Fellow, which is bestowed by the American Academy of Audiology (AAA).
What Causes Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss can be due to several factors such as the aging process, exposure to loud noise, medications, infections, head or ear trauma, congenital (birth) or genetic factors, diseases, as well as a number of other causes. Recent data shows that about 20 percent of adults in the United States (48 million) report some degree of hearing loss. Hearing loss often occurs gradually throughout a lifetime.
What Are The Different Types Of Hearing Loss?
1. Sensorineural hearing loss: When the problem is in the inner ear, a sensorineural hearing loss is the result. This commonly occurs from damage to the small hair cells, or nerve fibers, in the organ of hearing. Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss and accounts for more than 90 percent of hearing loss in all hearing aid wearers. The most common causes of this hearing loss are age-related changes and noise exposure.
2. Conductive hearing loss: When there is a problem in the external or middle ear, a conductive hearing impairment occurs. Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound is not conducted efficiently through the ear canal, eardrum, or tiny bones of the middle ear, resulting in a reduction of the loudness of sound that is heard. Conductive losses may result from earwax blocking the ear canal, fluid in the middle ear, middle ear infection, obstruction of the ear canal, perforation (hole) in the eardrum membrane.
3. Mixed hearing loss – When there are problems in the middle and inner ear, a mixed hearing impairment is the result (i.e. conductive and a sensorineural impairment).
4. Auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder (ANSD): The least common hearing impairment is ANSD. This type of loss requires more in-depth diagnostic testing, including a hearing evaluation with pure tones, otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) and auditory brainstem response (ABR) testing. In this type of hearing loss, the nerve fibers in the organ of hearing typically appear to be functioning well, but a breakdown of the information occurs along the pathway to the brain.
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