Otolaryngology: the role of ENT

The ENT is the specialist in the ENT sphere: ears, nose, throat, and salivary glands. It intervenes in many cases, both in children and adults.

When to consult an otolaryngologist and what is his role? In this article, here is everything you need to know about the ENT profession.

What is otolaryngology?

Otolaryngology, or ENT, is the medical specialty devoted to the affections and abnormalities of the “ENT sphere”, namely:

  • the ear (outer, middle, and internal);
  • nose and sinuses;
  • throat and neck (mouth, tongue, larynx, trachea);
  • salivary glands.

ENT is therefore interested in hearing, voice, breathing, smell and taste, balance, and aesthetics of the face. It includes, in fact, head and neck surgery.

Many conditions and abnormalities can be managed by an otolaryngologist since all organs of the ENT sphere can be affected by:

  • birth defects
  • tumors
  • infections or inflammations;
  • trauma or injury;
  • degeneration (including deafness);
  • paralysis (facial, laryngeal)
  • but also, indications for plastic and aesthetic surgery of the face and neck.

When to consult an ENT?

The otolaryngologist (or otolaryngologist) is involved in the treatment of many diseases. Here is a non-exhaustive list of problems that can be supported in ENT:

  • in the mouth: removal (excision) of the tonsils, adenoids, tumors or infections of the salivary glands, and tumors of the mouth, and tongue;
  • at the level of the nose;
  • chronic nasal congestion;
  • snoring and sleep apnea ;
  • Sinusitis ;
  • rhinoplasty (operation to “redo” the nose);
  • impaired sense of smell;
  • recurrent otitis;
  • hearing loss or deafness;
  • earache (ear pain);
  • tinnitus ;
  • balance disorders, dizziness;
  • pathologies of the voice;
  • stridor (noise during breathing);
  • thyroid disorders (in collaboration with an endocrinologist);
  • gastrolaryngeal reflux;
  • cancers of the larynx, cervical masses;
  • at the level of the ears;
  • at the throat.

Risk factors

Although pathologies of the ENT sphere can affect everyone, there are some recognized risk factors, including:

  • smoking;
  • excessive alcohol consumption;
  • overweight or obesity (snoring, apneas);
  • Young age: Children are more prone to ear infections and other ENT infections than adults.

What does ENT do?

To reach a diagnosis and identify the origin of the disorders, the otolaryngologist:

  • questions his patient to know the nature of the disorders, their date of onset and their mode of triggering, and the degree of discomfort felt;
  • performs a clinical examination of the organs in question, using instruments adapted to the nose, ears, or throat (spatulas, otoscope);
  • may use additional tests (e.g. X-ray).

Depending on the problem and the treatment to be provided, the otolaryngologist may use:

  • various medications;
  • fiberscopes or endoscopies, to visualize the inside of the airways for example;
  • surgical interventions (ENT is a surgical specialty), whether tumor, restorative or reconstructive procedures;
  • prostheses or implants;
  • rehabilitation.

What are the risks during the consultation with an ENT?

Consultation with an otolaryngologist does not involve any particular risks for the patient.

Image Credit: Image by Drazen Zigic on Freepik

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