This question is common, as ear doctors are known by several different names. In fact, ear doctors are often confused with other professionals such as audiologists. This article will help answer your questions about ear doctors and their services.
What Is an Ear Doctor Called?
Ear doctors are often referred to using various names like Otolaryngologists, Head and Neck surgeons, or Ear, Nose, Throat (ENT) surgeons. Each of these names refers to the same type of doctor.
Otolaryngologists are medical doctors who diagnose, manage, and treat disorders of the ears, nose, throat, and related structures of the head and neck. These professionals are trained in both medical and surgical care.
What Does an Ear Doctor Do?
Otolaryngologists, also known as ENT specialists, are qualified to prescribe medicines and perform surgery on the ears, nose, throat, and related parts of the head and neck.
Below are the various structure-specific treatments Otolaryngologists provide.
Otolaryngologists play a crucial role in the treatment of ear disorders. These professionals are trained in both the medical and surgical treatment of ear infections, tinnitus or “ringing sound,” dizziness, neck pain, and facial and cranial nerve disorders.
ENT doctors also specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of congenital deformities of the outer and inner ear.
According to a National Health Interview Survey, between 14% to 16% of the US population suffer from chronic sinusitis.
Otolaryngologists play a significant role in the diagnosis and treatment of medical issues regarding the nose, nasal cavity, and sinuses. These can include sinus infections, allergies, deviated septums, smell disorders, nasal obstructions, and headaches.
Head and Neck
Otolaryngologists are experienced in treating benign and malignant tumors, deformities of the face, facial trauma, and other infectious diseases.
However, ENTs do not treat all regions of the head. For instance, Neurologists treat problems with the brain and nervous system, and Ophthalmologists deal with vision problems.
A throat doctor (Ent) can provide treatment for medical conditions related to the throat, such as diseases of the voice box or larynx, diseases of the upper digestive tract or esophagus, tumors (malignant and benign), voice disorders, and swallowing difficulties.
The Difference Between an Ear Doctor and an Audiologist
While otolaryngologists diagnose and treat diseases of the ear, nose, and throat, hearing doctors have a medical specialty as hearing professionals. Audiologists treat hearing and balance disorders and dispense hearing aids.
Audiologists determine the type and severity of hearing loss, prescribe hearing aids or other amplification devices, and help the patient improve communication. The treatment services provided by audiologists are non-invasive, as opposed to Otolaryngologists.
If the underlying cause is medically treatable, the audiologist will refer the patient to an otolaryngologist who will prescribe medicines or perform surgery as required.
When to Consult an ENT Doctor
Diseases of the ear, nose, and throat are extremely common. Mentioned below are 6 signs that it may be time to consult an ENT Doctor.
Apart from the signs mentioned above, you can consult an ENT doctor if you experience any other symptoms affecting the ears, nose, or throat.
How Do I Find an Otolaryngologist?
To find an otolaryngologist, ask your primary health care provider for a referral list. You can also open the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery website and search for an otolaryngologist in your area.
Once you shortlist the best ENT specialists, research their credentials and experience. You can also read patient reviews to learn more about the quality of care and patient engagement.
Be sure to prepare before consulting an ENT. Write down all of your symptoms, along with their severity and duration. If you are currently taking any medications, discuss the name, dosage, and purpose.
If you prepare ahead of time, you can be sure to clearly answer the doctor’s questions. You will also be ready to express your concerns and ask questions about your condition.