ENT Meaning: What Is an ENT, and When Should You See One?

man dapping nose with tissue


An otorhinolaryngologist is a specialist who focuses on diagnosing and treating disorders occurring in the ear, nose and throat. 

Because “otorhinolaryngologist” is a bit difficult to pronounce (and tricky to spell), most patients refer to this kind of doctor as an ear, nose and throat specialist. The abbreviation is simply “ENT,” meaning doctors specializing in ear, nose and throat issues.

[Related: 7 New Year’s Resolutions To Improve Your ENT Health]

What Does an ENT Doctor Do?

ENT doctors take care of a variety of conditions that occur in or around the ears, nose and throat. 

They routinely provide care for common ear ailments, including balance disorders, tinnitus and hearing impairment. They also can address nasal passage blockages, congestion, sinus conditions and chronic nose bleeds. In terms of throat conditions, ENT doctors treat tonsil infections, asthma and even thyroid issues. 

Why See an ENT Doctor?

You might schedule an appointment with an ENT doctor for multiple reasons. Whether something as common as seasonal allergies or as painful as an ear infection is bothering you, visiting an ENT is a wise choice. 

Certain specialist ENT doctors may have different areas of expertise and treat more serious conditions, like these:

  • Neurotology
  • Thyroid problems
  • Head and neck cancers
  • Craniofacial surgery
  • Pediatric airway conditions

You might still wonder, “Why see an ENT doctor?” Well, here are some common issues that could warrant an appointment.

Ear Infections and Tinnitus

Many patients visit an ENT doctor for chronic ear infections. If you’re suffering from a painful ear infection that doesn’t go away in a day or two or reoccurs, you should make an appointment. 

While ear infections are more common in children, they can occur in adults as well. An ENT doctor should address any ear pain, regardless of age. 

ENT doctors also can treat tinnitus — it’s a persistent ringing noise in the ears. There’s no cure for tinnitus, but ENT doctors can provide great management strategies to minimize its negative impact on your daily life. 

[Related: When To Get a Sleep Study for Your Snoring]

Dizziness and Vertigo

The inner ear is partially responsible for maintaining our balance. If you’re experiencing regular dizziness or vertigo, an ENT doctor can likely help you with the issue. For example, ENT doctors can develop a treatment plan to steady your footing and ease your dizziness.

Hearing Loss

We can expect a minor degree of hearing loss as we age. However, that doesn’t mean you should ignore signs that you’re actively losing your hearing — especially if hearing loss comes on suddenly. Hearing loss can come with symptoms that signal a more severe illness or underlying cause. 

An ENT doctor can work with you to find the reason for your hearing loss and research the best treatment options.


Whether you suffer from seasonal allergies or experience a one-off allergic reaction, an ENT doctor is your best bet for getting help. Allergies can happen anywhere on the body, and they particularly affect your skin, eyes, sinuses, nose, throat and/or lungs. 

Ultimately, an ENT doctor can address your allergies before they get worse — and get you back to breathing easily. 


When your sinuses become inflamed and swollen, you could be suffering from sinusitis. This condition might make breathing difficult and painful. 

A variety of factors can cause these long-lasting sinus infections, including nasal polyps, deviated septums, respiratory infections or allergies. Fortunately, an ENT doctor can determine the best course of treatment to ease your symptoms.

[Related: Losing Quality Sleep? Here’s What’s Causing Your Sleeping Problems]

Consistent Sore Throat and Tonsillitis

Do you have a consistent and severe sore throat? If so, you may have to get your tonsils removed. 

Tonsillitis is an inflammation of the tonsils that can cause swelling, soreness and difficulty swallowing. It’s best to address it quickly! An ENT doctor can accurately diagnose the cause of tonsillitis so that you can move forward with your best treatment option.

Enlarged Lymph Nodes

Another reason you might make an appointment with an ENT doctor is because you have swollen or enlarged lymph nodes. Your lymph nodes are an important line of defense against infections, so when bacteria or viruses infect them, it’s crucial to get treatment. 

You should certainly see an ENT doctor if you experience any of the following:

  • Enlarged lymph nodes that don’t get smaller after a week or so 
  • Lymph nodes that get bigger 
  • Lymph nodes that feel hard or rubbery 

Plus, certain cancers can spread to the lymph nodes before they move elsewhere. So when you feel like something may be wrong in that area, it’s essential to be proactive.

Sleep Apnea

You might think your snoring isn’t that big of a deal — but it could be negatively affecting your health. Sleep apnea is a serious health condition that occurs when you stop breathing or breathe shallowly while sleeping. When this happens, your brain and body become oxygen-deprived, and it can disrupt your sleep. 

Sleep apnea can also increase your risk of suffering more serious health conditions, including heart attacks and strokes.

Visit an ENT doctor or sleep specialist to find the root of your sleep apnea. Together, you’ll find the most effective treatment route for you.

Breathe Easy and Take Care of Your ENT Health With Dr. Matorin

Life should be about enjoying the moment and making memories with friends and family — not worrying about your breathing. Dr. Matorin, Houston ENT, is ready to help you breathe easier and live a fuller life. 

Take the first step and schedule an appointment at our clinic today.

Featured image via Unsplash


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