Otolaryngology

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, which may include:

    • Hearing problems

    • Ear infections

    • Balance disorders

    • Tinnitus

    • Some cranial nerve disorders, such as facial paralysis

  • Nose, which may include:

    • Allergies

    • Problems with smelling

    • Appearance of the nose

    • Sinus infections

  • Throat, which may include:

    • Diseases of the larynx (voice box)

    • Upper digestive tract disorders

    • Disorders involving the esophagus

    • Voice disorders

    • Swallowing disorders

  • Related structures of the head and neck, which may include:

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

    • Infectious diseases

    • Benign and malignant tumors

    • Trauma to the face

    • Deformities of the face

    • Cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery

    • Sleep disorders

Doctors who specialize in otolaryngology are called otolaryngologists. Sometimes they are referred to as ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialists.

Otolaryngologists may also choose to specialize in any of the following:

  • Pediatric otolaryngology (children’s disorders)

  • Otology/neurotology (disorders of hearing, balance, facial nerve, and skull base)

  • Allergy

  • Facial cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery

  • Head and neck diseases

  • Laryngology (throat)

  • Rhinology (nose)

  • Sleep medicine



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