The ear, nose and throat of a human body are very essential organs, which are all interconnected by a system of tubes and passages. Hence, a common specialist can treat all problems related to these three organs including ear, nose and throat. This medical specialist is referred to as an otolaryngologist, who is commonly called an ENT specialist.
An ENT specialist can treat various conditions and also perform surgery to cure diseases and problems affecting the ear, nose and throat. Some of the common problems treated by an otolaryngologist are:
- Infections of the ear, nose and throat
- Hearing loss
- Trouble with balance
- Deviated Septum
- Hair loss
- Nose bleeds
- Nasal congestion
- Smell problems
- Cleft palate
- Breathing problems
- Swimmer’s ear
- Nerve problems of the ear, nose and throat
- Problems in swallowing or drinking
- Vocal issues
- Strep Throat
- Infections and tumours of the head and neck
- Snoring issue
- Obstructive sleep apnea
What is otolaryngology?
The branch of study involves diagnosing and treating problems of the below structures:
- Ears: All infections, allergies, hearing disorders, etc.
- Nose: Problems such as chronic sinusitis, nasal cavity issues, allergies, problems of smell, etc.
- Throat: Diseases and issues related to the laryngeal and upper esophageal, as well as vocal issues, swallowing problems
- Head and neck: Otolaryngology also involves treating problems of the face, head and neck including infections, bacterial infections, trauma, injury, deformities and tumour. However, for some specific problems, a multi-speciality approach may be required.
Some otolaryngologists undertake special studies to gain expertise in any of the following seven areas:
- Allergic treatment through medication, immunotherapy, etc.
- Surgery of the face, neck, ear for various reasons such as cosmetic, functional or reconstruction
- Tumour removal
- Throat management
- Ear disorders and problems such as tumours, nerve issues affecting hearing and balance’
- ENT specialist for children
- Nose and sinus disorder management
What are the common procedures performed by Otolaryngologists?
An ENT specialist or an otolaryngologist can perform a wide variety of functions to treat problems related to the ear, nose, throat and related structures such as head and neck. These procedures vary in complexity and can range from microvascular reconstruction to reconstructing entire neck.
Some of the common procedures performed by Otolaryngologists are:
Blepharoplasty: This procedure involves repairing drooping eyelids by removing excess skin, muscle or fat tissue. This is done to improvise vision or could also be done for cosmetic purposes.
Endoscopic Sinus Surgery: This surgery is performed to cure infectious and inflammatory sinus problems. In this procedure, the otolaryngologist inserts a flexible instrument known as an endoscope into the nostril to fairly see the sinuses and guide other surgical instruments including lasers to remove the blockage.
Excision and Biopsy: An ENT specialist can take a piece of tissue of the concerned organ to check for abnormal growth, masses or tumour. This procedure is called a biopsy.
Facial Plastic Surgery: In some cases, an ENT specialist can also perform cosmetic or reconstructive surgery to correct congenital abnormalities, cleft palates, etc. These could also be done to remove scars, accident marks, and other reasons.
Myringotomy and pressure equalization (PE): This procedure can help patients who experience frequent ear infections or are experiencing hearing impairment due to formation of excessive fluid n the ear. The ENT specialist will place tubes through the eardrum to let the air pass into the deep ear. In a myringotomy, the surgeon makes a small incision in the eardrum to release the pressure of it which is essentially caused due to fluid build-up.
Septoplasty: This procedure is conducted to correct a deviated septum or permit more nasal access to remove polyps. This involves separating the nasal passage from the cartilage to straighten the deviated cartilage as required.
Surgery for snoring or obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): In this procedure, the ENT specialist will remove the surplus soft palate tissue to allow the airway to function properly. In other procedures, the surgeon can also inject the palate to make it stuff or insert rods to minimise vibration.
Thyroid Surgery: An ENT specialist will aim to remove some or all of the thyroid gland depending per complexity. This surgery is effective in cases of thyroid cancer, doubtful lumps, obstruction of the esophagus, etc.
Tonsillectomy: In this procedure, the surgeon removes the tonsils to cure the infection or treat breathing problems in case of problematic adenoids.
Tracheostomy: This procedure involves forming an opening via the neck to the windpipe by inserting a tube to allow the opening of an airway or remove lung secretions.
There are many other procedures that are performed by an ENT specialist or medically called an otolaryngologist. If people experiencing any problems with the ear, nose, throat or related structures – the common go-to specialist is an otolaryngologist.