What is otolaryngology?

Anatomy of the ear, nose, and throat

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

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