What is otolaryngology?

Anatomy of the ear, nose, and throat
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Otolaryngology is the oldest medical specialty in the U.S. It focuses on medical and surgical treatment for people who have disorders of the ear, nose, throat, and related areas.

  • Ear problems include:

    • Hearing problems

    • Ear infections

    • Balance disorders

    • Ringing or other sounds in the ear (tinnitus)

    • Some cranial nerve disorders, such as facial paralysis

  • Nose problems include:

    • Allergies

    • Problems with smelling

    • How the nose looks

    • Sinus infections

  • Throat problems include:

    • Voice box (larynx) diseases

    • Upper digestive tract disorders

    • Esophagus disorders

    • Voice disorders

    • Swallowing disorders

  • Problems of related head and neck structures include:

    • Nerves that control sight, smell, hearing, and the face

    • Infectious diseases

    • Noncancer (benign) and cancer (malignant) tumors

    • Facial injury

    • Facial deformities

    • Cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery

    • Sleep disorders

Doctors who specialize in this are called otolaryngologists. They are also called ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialists.

These doctors may also specialize in any of the following:

  • Children's disorders

  • Hearing, balance, facial nerve, and skull base disorders

  • Allergy

  • Facial cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery

  • Head and neck diseases

  • Throat

  • Nose

  • Sleep medicine

Online Medical Reviewer: Ashutosh Kacker MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith RN MSN CCRC
Online Medical Reviewer: Ronald Karlin MD
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2019
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