Most cases of hearing loss are managed by an audiologist. But sometimes, a medical specialist may be needed. You may be referred to an otolaryngologist or neurotologist for a number of reasons. Understanding what these medical professionals do will help you seek treatment from the appropriate source.
What Is an ENT?
Otolaryngologists are most commonly referred to as ENTs because they focus on the treatment of disorders of the ears, nose and throat. These conditions include:
- Ear infections
- Hearing loss
- Dizziness or trouble balancing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Voice issues
- Sleep apnea
- Tumors in the head or neck
Otolaryngologists are often brought in to rule out or diagnose a medical cause for hearing loss. They are also responsible for diagnosing vestibular disorders.
In order to become an otolaryngologist, you must complete four years of medical school and five years of residency. After becoming certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology, ENTs can choose to sub-specialize in more specific areas by completing additional training. These areas include:
- Allergy – treating environmental allergies with medication or immunotherapy
- Facial reconstructive surgery – performing cosmetic surgery including rhinoplasty and facelifts
- Head and neck – removing tumors in the nose, mouth and throat
- Laryngology – treating disorders that affect the voice box and vocal cords
- Otology and neurtology – focusing on issues of the inner ear
- Pediatric ENT – providing ear, nose and throat care to children
- Rhinology – correcting nasal congestion and chronic sinus infections
- Sleep – specializing in sleep disorders that involve your breathing
What Is a Neurotologist?
This ENT sub-specialty focuses on complex disorders of the inner ear, auditory nerve and base of the skull.
Patients are referred to a neurotologists for cochlear implant surgery and implantation of their bone anchored hearing aid. They can also treat tinnitus, acoustic neuromas, dizziness and balance problems, and skull base disorders. Meeting with the correct professional can ensure you receive the best quality and most appropriate level of care. To learn more about treating your hearing loss or to schedule an appointment with an experienced expert, contact Charleston ENT & Allergy today.