Ear, Nose, Throat specialists are doctors and surgeons who are trained in treating and managing ailments affecting the ear, nose and throat area. Dr Dennis Chua from entspecialistsingapore.com affirms that a lot of ENT specialists can manage some common ‘bread and butter’ conditions, such as:
- Sinusitis (inflammation of sinuses)
- Rhinitis (inflammation of the nose)
- Tonsillitis (tonsil infection)
- Ear infections
- Sleep disorders, e.g., sleep apnoea and snoring
Most of ear, nose and throat specialists can also perform surgery on the afflicted areas. These include tonsillectomies and myringotomies which are some of the most common ENT procedures. All in all, the range of conditions that ENT specialist can treat is very broad, which is why a lot of them also have subspecialties which will be discussed below.
Subspecialties of Ear, Nose, Throat Specialists:
Otology and Neurotology
Otology and neurotology deals specifically with the ears and the various disorders and afflictions that can affect them. The ears are some of the most delicate and sensitive parts of the human body and it is of utmost importance that we take care of them as they are prone to damage and infection due to having an entrance for which bacteria, viruses and foreign objects could enter.
Otologists and neurotologists deal with several ear and hearing disorders, such as:
- Hearing loss. There are two types of hearing loss, conductive and nerve. Nearly 0.1% of all born children have advanced nerve hearing loss, while adults usually develop some form of hearing loss as well as they age. These are often treated with hearing aids, and if ineffective, cochlear implants may be needed to help the patient hear.
- Otosclerosis. Otosclerosis is the condition where a small bone in the middle ear, usually the stapes, gets stuck in place. This, in turn, causes conductive hearing loss to the patient. In mild cases, treatment may not be necessary; however, more advanced cases of this condition require hearing aids or surgery for full treatment.
- Ear infections. Usually a result of a hole in the eardrum, chronic ear infections may occur. Treatments for ear infections include eardrops, antibiotics or surgery.
ENT doctors in Singapore who specialise in rhinology and rhinoplasty deal with nose and sinus problems. Rhinologists treat various nose and sinus disorders such as:
- Chronic sinusitis. This happens when your sinuses are swollen and inflamed for a long period of time – about 2 months or more. Treatments include medication, nasal irrigation and surgery.
- Nasal polyps. Nasal polyps are soft, painless growths on your nasal passages or sinuses, which result from inflammation of the sinuses. Patients may opt for these nasal polyps to be surgically removed.
Rhinologists are also equipped in doing endoscopic orbital surgery for surgical treatments of eye problems, as well as endoscopic skull base surgery for treatment of nasal and skull base conditions such as tumours.
Laryngology specializes in dealing with throat or voice disorders, issues with the airways or swallowing, throat cancer diagnosis and other conditions that affect the larynx or voice box. The larynx is responsible for the production of sound, swallowing and as the entrance of the windpipe, and thus is critical in the process of breathing. A lot of larynx disorders are caused by strain or injury to the vocal cords due to misuse of the voice.
Some conditions that affect the larynx are:
- Vocal cord nodules. Small, non-cancerous lesions found on the vocal cords are called vocal cord nodules. These are very common for persons who use their voice a lot such as professional singers, teachers and salespersons.
- Vocal cord polyps. Caused by injury or inflammation, vocal cord polyps are another common condition of the larynx. These are also quite common for persons who smoke a lot.
- Laryngitis. The swelling or inflammation of the larynx or voice box.
- Laryngeal cancer. Cancerous tumours can grow in the larynx, which often starts from squamous cells found in the inner walls of the larynx. If caught early, laryngeal cancer is highly curable.
Head and Neck Surgery
Head and neck surgeons specialize in the surgical removal of cancerous and noncancerous tumours or lesions in the head and neck. These also include tumours found in the thyroid and parathyroid. Some conditions that head and neck surgeons can treat include:
- Pinched nerves
- Thyroid and parathyroid cancer
- Cancer in the lymph nodes and the soft tissues of the face and neck
Paediatric ENT specialists deal with ENT problems of children. They are also trained in examining and treating children in a way that makes the children feel cooperative and relaxed. They also use special equipment designed for children, with their clinics decorated with children in mind.
Some of the conditions that are treated by paediatric ENT specialists include:
- Birth defects of the head and neck
- Ear infections
- Hearing loss
- Nasal problems
- Throat disorders
- Down’s syndrome
A lot of these disorders are also treated by other subspecialists; however, paediatric ENT doctors specialize in cases where these disorders occur in children.
If you’re having trouble sleeping or dealing with loud snoring, then consider seeing a sleep medicine specialist. Some conditions that sleep doctors can help with are:
- Sleep apnoea. This is a potentially serious condition wherein breathing randomly stops and starts during sleep. After waking up, patients afflicted with sleep apnoea often feel tired and exhausted even if it’s a full night’s sleep.
- Loud snoring. Often a symptom of sleep apnoea, snoring loudly can also be an indication of other serious problems, such as heart disease.
Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
For cosmetic or functional needs, plastic and/or reconstructive surgery is one of the most in-demand procedures. ENT specialists who study plastic and reconstructive surgery are often hired to help patients deal with abnormalities and deformations of their face and neck.
In Singapore, ear, nose and throat specialists are a dime a dozen and it may be hard to choose the best one for you and your condition. Make sure you know which type of ENT doctors you’re supposed to meet with based on your condition and symptoms. Consult with a trusted ENT specialist as he/she may refer you to a trusted subspecialist of your condition.