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A Guide to Your Ear, Nose and Throat Questions

What is an ENT doctor?

An ENT doctor is called an otolaryngologist. I know, it’s not the easiest to say, let alone spell. Simply, we are ear, nose and throat specialists and perform surgeries of the head and neck. These highly-trained surgical specialists spend five to seven years in special training during a residency after completing four years of medical school and four years of college. Some do an additional one to two years of training in a fellowship after their residency. Only about two percent of all physicians specialize in the field of otolaryngology, which is unfortunate as ear, nose and throat conditions affect all of us at one time or another.

Why would you see an ENT doctor?

An otolaryngologist treats adults and children for a variety of conditions, cancerous and non-cancerous. Some of the most common reasons people see us are chronic ear infections, asthma and sinus issues. Here’s a more complete list of why you may see us:

  • Ear infections
  • Hearing loss
  • Dizziness
  • Ringing in the ears (called tinnitus)
  • Ear, face or neck pain
  • Deviated septum
  • Rhinitis
  • Sinusitis
  • Sinus headaches and migraines
  • Nasal and airway obstruction
  • Sore throats
  • Hoarseness
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Throat tumors
  • Airway and vocal cord disorders
  • Head and neck cancers
  • Neck masses
  • Salivary gland tumors
  • Snoring and sleep apnea
  • Birth defects of the head and neck Tonsil and adenoid infection
  • Asthma and allergy conditions

Facial plastic and reconstructive surgery including trauma reconstruction, head and neck cancer reconstruction, and skin cancer removal and repair are also performed by otolaryngologists.

When should I see an ENT doctor?

Start with your primary care provider. Your primary care provider may be able to successfully treat minor cases of these conditions and will refer to an ENT doctor when necessary. Self-referrals are accepted too, but some health insurances may require a referral. Starting with your primary care provider is your best first step.


David Stone, MD, FACS, is an Prevea Health otolaryngologist, seeing patients at HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chippewa Falls. Prevea Health is a community partner of Chippewa Valley Family magazine. For more information or to make an appointment with Dr. Stone, call (715) 717-6885 or visit prevea.com.

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