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Seeing An Ear, Nose, And Throat Specialist For Asthma

If you have asthma, an ear, nose, and throat specialist can be an important part of your care team. Also known as otolaryngologists or ENTs, these doctors specialize in the treatment and management of the ears, nose, and throat. ENTs also address diseases and disorders that affect other parts of the head and neck.1

What conditions do ENTs treat?

ENTs treat people with a wide range of issues, including:1,2

  • Allergies
  • Balance disorders and dizziness
  • Breathing problems, including asthma
  • Deviated septum
  • Ear infections
  • Hearing loss
  • Infections in the adenoids and tonsils
  • Inflamed and swollen sinuses (sinusitis)
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Smell disorders
  • Swallowing problems
  • Voice disorders

How can an ENT help with asthma care?

Asthma is one of the breathing problems treated by an ENT specialist. Certain activities and harmful matter in the air like auto fumes and dust inflame the airways in people with this chronic condition. The swelling constricts the airways and leads to coughing, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, and wheezing.3

If you have asthma, seeing an ENT specialist can help you get the best care and outcomes. ENT specialists often partner with asthma specialists, such as allergists and pulmonologists. These doctors can work together to ensure you receive proper testing, an accurate diagnosis, and the most thorough care.2,4

An ENT specialist helps with asthma care by detecting and treating any ENT conditions that may occur with asthma and trigger asthma symptoms. These can include allergic rhinitis, chronic rhinosinusitis, and gastroesophageal/laryngopharyngeal reflux. Other disorders can also affect the airways and worsen asthma. If ENT conditions are present, treating and controlling them can aid in asthma management.2,4

How does an ENT differ from an allergist?

Two primary things set an ENT specialist apart from an allergist. The first is their training and certification. The second is their skills, mainly the ability to perform surgery.

An ENT specialist usually trains for 15 years before practicing in their field of medicine. This includes 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, and 5 years of training in the specialty of otolaryngology. They also undergo 1 or 2 years of training in a subspecialty. Allergy, facial plastic and reconstructive surgery, and pediatric otolaryngology are some of the specialties within otolaryngology.1,5

The training to become an allergist usually takes 13 to 14 years. This training also includes 4 years of college and 4 years of medical school. Then comes 3 to 4 years of studying internal medicine, pediatrics, or both, along with a 2-year fellowship in allergy/immunology.6

Both ENT specialists and allergists take exams to be certified by accredited boards in their respective fields. The American Board of Otolaryngology certifies ENT specialists. Allergists receive certification from the American Board of Internal Medicine, the American Board of Pediatrics, and/or the American Board of Allergy & Immunology.1,5,6

Along with the training in their special areas of focus, the skills of ENT specialists and allergists differ. ENT specialists are trained and skilled to perform surgery. Allergists use methods of treatment that do not involve surgery, such as allergen avoidance, drugs, and immunotherapy. Allergists are also skilled in conducting tests such as allergy and spirometry testing.1,2,5

Choosing an ENT specialist

If you have asthma and other issues that affect your ears, nose, and throat, an ENT specialist can help. These doctors have expert training and skills that benefit people with these conditions. Since otolaryngology is the oldest medical specialty in America, ENT specialists also have a long history of providing medical and surgical care.1

If you have questions about how an ENT specialist can help you manage your asthma, talk to your primary care doctor or other doctors that are already part of your treatment team.

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