An otolaryngologist, commonly referred to as an ENT doctor, is a physician trained to diagnose and manage diseases and disorders of the nose, ear and throat, including the sinuses, larynx, mouth, and various structures of the face and neck. In addition to treating allergies, otolaryngologists treat patients for deviated septums, cleft palates and hair loss. Otolaryngologists can perform facial plastic surgery and reconstructive surgery of the head and neck, and individuals with sleep apnea are usually treated by an otolaryngologist.
Otolaryngologists are the only physicians trained to treat disorders of the ear, including medical and surgical treatment of hearing loss, balance disorders and ear infections. These physicians also diagnose and treat cancerous and non-cancerous tumors of the head, neck and thyroid.
Training in otolaryngology requires up to 15 years of college and post-graduate education, including a minimum of five years of specialty training. These physicians must also pass the American Board of Otolaryngology examination, and many go on to complete additional training in one or more of the field's sub-speciality areas, such as pediatric otolaryngology. Otolaryngologists differ from most other physicians because they are trained in both medicine and surgery and do not need to refer patients out when surgery is required.