Common ear, nose and throat problems

Many factors can lead patients to see their local ear, nose and throat doctor. These specialists, also called ENT doctors or otolaryngology doctors, treat a wide range of conditions related to the head and neck.

Some of the conditions treated by an ENT doctor include:

Someone with trauma injuries or cosmetic defects that involve the head or neck may also receive treatment from an ear, nose and throat doctor.

Treatments provided by otolaryngology specialist vary depending on the diagnosis. Some of the surgeries ear, nose and throat doctors perform on a regular basis including tonsil removal, placing ear tubes, and sinus, thyroid, and reconstruction operation.

ENT doctor subspecialties

A doctor specializing in allergies and licensed to diagnose disorders related to allergies can use such treatments as immunotherapy.

Laryngologists specialize in helping patients who have problems with damaged vocal chords.

Facial and reconstructive surgery involves only surgery on the face, whether the issues are cosmetic or reconstructive.

Rhinology and sinus doctors specialize in treating problems related to the nose or the sinuses, such as sinusitis.

A head and neck subspecialty diagnoses and treats problems with those exact areas, such as identifying lumps or treating cancerous tumors on the voice box (larynx), neck or head.

Otology includes any diagnosis or treatment for the ears, including diseases affecting the outer and inner ear, and swimmers ear.

Picking an ENT doctor

If you feel you or your child needs to see a physician about an ear, nose or throat concern, experts generally advise first visiting a primary care physician for a complete exam. Your primary care physician will decide whether the problems you're having call for treatment through an ear, nose and throat doctor, and provide a referral as necessary. Some insurance plans require you to visit a primary care physician before you can see a specialist.

After receiving the referral, contact your health insurance provider to make sure the referred doctor is an approved provider. If the referred doctor is not on your health provider's list of approved physicians, ask for a list of local providers who are in network. Verify their qualifications, check licensure and see member reviews on Angie's List

When calling ENT doctors' offices, find out whether they are accepting new patients, and get information about office hours, available appointments and subspecialties. Remember to ask what hospital the doctor is affiliated with to make sure you will be covered through your health insurance network.

On your first visit, take note of the staff:

  • Are they courteous and respectful?

  • Is the waiting room busy?

  • Is the doctor friendly and informative?

If you aren't comfortable or don't feel as though the doctor will be a good fit for you, contact other providers.

Pediatric ENT doctors

Your family doctor or pediatrician can treat minor earaches or ear, nose and throat problems, but for more serious issues, such as hearing loss, consider a pediatric ENT. Pediatric otolaryngologists are trained to offer specialized medical and surgical treatment for children with issues related to the head or neck.

Check out Angie's List's Guide to Pediatric Ear, Nose and Throat Care.

Hearing tests/audiology

Audiologists test patients' hearing to determine the extent of hearing loss or damage and identify the cause. Along with ENTs, audiologists work to determine the best options for treatment of hearing loss, including hearing aids.

LEARN MORE: Angie's List Guide to Hearing Tests/Audiology.

Hearing aids

A hearing aid uses a microphone, amplifier and receiver to help patients with hearing loss to hear better. Options include digital and analog, and patients can choose from six different hearing aid models, from traditional behind-the ear hearing aids to completely-in-canal hearing aids.

LEARN MORE: Angie's List Guide to Hearing Aids

Speech therapy

Speech therapists evaluate, diagnose and treat patients who are working through speech disorders. A speech therapist may work with all age groups, from young children to older adults.

Learn More: Angie's List Guide to Speech Therapy

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Subject: Ear Infection

I'm going to see my local GP tomorrow morning but today I'm now on my 5th day of taking antibiotics and 2nd day of ear drops. The pain has gone down a considerable amount however my ear is still blocked and ringing and worrying me. If I have to see an ENT is it expensive and if there's a waiting list how long am I looking at as I'm extremely worried about my hearing! Thank you.

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