An ear nose throat doctor, also known as an otolaryngologist, head and neck Surgeon, or an ENT physician, is a professional who specialises in the diagnosis, treatment and surgery of conditions afflicting the structures of the head and neck.
Below are some examples of the health conditions that an ENT surgeon treats:
- Hearing diseases such as conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss, otitis media and perforated ear drum
- Nasal and sinus problems such as perforated septum, sinus polyps or fractured nasal bone
- Head and neck conditions such as tonsil disorders, foreign body problems and lymph node enlargement
- Vocal conditions such as vocal cord nodules, cyst, polyp or palsy
- Sleep and snoring problems
- Balance concerns
In order for an individual to become an ENT specialist, they must meet the following requirements:
- Bachelor’s degree (4-year undergraduate course, should include units in biology, physics, chemistry and mathematics)
- Doctor of medicine degree (4 years in medical school)
- Internship experience
- Residency training (5 years) – should be accredited by the Council for Graduate Medical Education. The training program should have encompassed the diagnosis, identification, treatment and surgery of problems covering the ears, neck, head, throat and associated structures.
Once an aspiring ENT has completed the aforementioned requirements, they need to take and pass the UK Medical Licensing Examination.
Afterwards, an ENT Surgeon can also take a subspecialty training, which usually lasts from 1 to 2 years. Here are the subspecialties ENTs can study after residency:
- Head and neck – endocrine surgery, reconstruction and surgical oncology
- Otology – ear and hearing problems
- Neuro-otology – skull base, dizziness, temporal bone, inner and middle ear conditions
- Sinus and Rhinology – allergy, apnoea and snoring, sinusitis and anterior skull base problems
- Laryngology – phono-surgery and voice therapy
- Facial Plastic Surgery – trauma, maxillofacial and facial cosmetic surgery
- Paediatric otolaryngology – Cleft lip and palate, velopalatine insufficiency, vascular malformations, cochlear implant and airway problems
An ENT expert usually works in a hospital, medical centre or health care set-up, saying this they can also engage in private practice. Like other doctors, an ENT specialist needs to endure long, gruelling hours of work and engage in on-call consultations at any time of the day or sometimes night.
What To Look For In An ENT Doctor
If you suffer from any of the conditions mentioned above, then it is advisable to seek the help of an ENT specialist. If you want to get the best diagnosis and treatment possible you should ascertain that your doctor has the following:
- Comprehensive knowledge of the structures and organs located in the head and neck
- Certification by the American Board of Otolaryngology
- Excellent communication skills
- Impressive manual dexterity
- Physical stamina
- Empathy and patience
When it comes to head and neck problems, you need to consult an ear nose throat specialist at the first sign or symptom. It is best if you visit a licensed and board-certified doctor while the condition is still in the early stages for immediate diagnosis and treatment.