Otolaryngology is the United States’ oldest medical specialty. Physicians who specialize in otolaryngology are referred to as ear, nose, and throat (ENT) physicians or otolaryngologists. They treat patients of all ages with disorders and diseases of those structures, as well as related conditions in the head and neck. This covers a wide range of health issues, ranging from hearing loss and balance problems to allergies and infections and swallowing disorders. Additionally, otolaryngologists handle such things as cancerous tumors in the head and neck, along with facial trauma and deformities.
Within their specialty, otolaryngologists can focus on one of seven areas, including rhinology, laryngology, facial plastic surgery, and allergies. Many physicians will complete a one- or two-year fellowship in one of these subspecialties before beginning their practice in that area. However, there are otolaryngologists who do not focus their practice on a single area and instead treat ENT problems of all kinds.