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What is an otolaryngologist anyway? -

What is an otolaryngologist anyway?

Otolaryngologists (pronounced OH-TOE-LAR-IN-GOLL-OH-JIST) are doctors who specialize in providing medical and surgical care for patients with diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, throat and related structures. They are commonly referred to as ENT (ear, nose, and throat) physicians.


Otolaryngology is considered to be the very first medical specialty in the United States. The word itself is short for otorhinolaryngology and is derived from the Greek words for ear (oto), nose (rhino) and throat (laryn). Over the past several decades, the specialty has evolved to include disorders of the head and neck.

Common conditions treated include the following:

  • Ears – hearing loss impacts approximately 20% of Americans and one-third of adults 65 and older. Aging, exposure to loud noise, viruses, heart conditions, head injuries and trauma, stroke and tumors have all been known to lead to gradual hearing loss. Otolaryngologists treat this and a number of other ear-related conditions including ear trauma and injury, ear drum perforations, ear infections and ear aches, fluid in the ears, and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). And because ears and balance are so closely intertwined, ENT physicians also treat balance disorders such as vertigo and Meniere’s disease.
  • Nose – chronic sinusitis is among the most common conditions treated by ENT physicians, impacting nearly 30 million adults in the U.S. every year. Other nasal conditions commonly by ENT doctors include allergies, nasal obstruction and deviated septum, loss of smell, postnasal drip and nose bleeds.
  • Throat – voice and swallowing disorders often involve the larynx (voice box) or esophagus, with symptoms often including chronic sore throat and hoarseness. Other conditions include sleep apnea, tonsillitis, polyps and reflux.
  • Head and Neck –benign (non-cancerous) and malignant (cancerous) tumors, Bell’s palsy, thyroid and parathyroid disorders, TMJ, and facial and cranial nerve disorders are among the varied conditions treated by otolaryngologist.

The specialty of otolaryngology requires an undergraduate degree, a 4-year medical degree, and a 5-year residency program. During their specialty training, otolaryngology residents are trained in surgical skills, emergency medicine, critical care, and anesthesia, followed by two years dedicated to specialized training.

Oakdale Ear, Nose & Throat Clinic’s highly-trained and board-certified physicians see patients at our clinics in Robbinsdale, Maple Grove and Plymouth. We offer innovative diagnostic testing and treatment options that bring real results, improving the quality of life for our patients.

To learn how we can help you or a family member, schedule an appointment.