What is an Otolaryngologist, and Can They Help Me?

Do you suffer from chronically sore throats? Are you always congested or dealing with constant post-nasal drip?

An otolaryngologist is a physician trained to medically and surgically manage disorders and diseases of the ear, nose, throat, mouth, sinuses, larynx, and related areas in the neck and head. If you have an issue that concerns any of these areas, you should see an otolaryngologist.

An otolaryngologist is another name for an ear, nose, and throat doctor, or ENT. Seeing an otolaryngologist helps ensure you receive the best possible treatment and start feeling better from your associated symptoms.

Keep reading to learn more about otolaryngologists, the reasons to see one, and how they can help you if you’re experiencing ear, nose, or throat symptoms that require treatment.

Education and Board-Certification

An otolaryngologist spends four years in college, an additional four years at medical school, and then at least five years of residency specializing in this area. Many otolaryngologists complete another one to two-year fellowship to acquire more extensive training.

To become an otolaryngologist, a doctor must receive certification from the American Board of Otolaryngology. The American Board of Otolaryngology ensures that certified physicians meet their standards of training, knowledge, and professionalism through initial and continuing certification.

Reasons to Visit an Otolaryngologist

There are many reasons why you may need to see an otolaryngologist. They include:

Chronic Ear Infections

A chronic ear infection happens when you or your child has an infection that recurs four times per year or doesn’t completely heal. Children are more prone to ear infections than adults because their Eustachian tubes are narrower, smaller, and more horizontal.

Their immune systems are also underdeveloped, making them more likely to end up with ear infections and other afflictions. Ear infections can negatively impact your day-to-day and overall quality of life when left untreated. In children, they may lead to development, speech, and social delays.

Eventually, chronic ear infections can cause permanent hearing and ear damage. Children suffering from recurring or multiple ear infections should see an otolaryngologist as soon as possible.

An otolaryngologist can offer the best treatment to end the infections and prevent long-term complications.


Sinusitis occurs when the sinuses become swollen or inflamed. The inflammation or swelling can interfere with how mucus usually drains, making your nose stuffy or congested.

You may get a sinus infection when mucus is blocked and can’t drain properly from the nose. Some of the unpleasant symptoms of a sinus infection include:

  • Difficulty breathing through your nose
  • Decreased sense of taste and smell
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Halitosis or bad breath
  • Yellow or green discharge from your nose
  • Tenderness, swelling, and pain around your nose, eyes, forehead, and cheeks

Sinusitis typically develops after a cold. Other causes of a sinus infection are allergies, upper respiratory infections, structural abnormalities, and environmental irritants.

You’ll need to see an otolaryngologist if your sinus infection is an ongoing problem. Your ENT specialist will determine the underlying cause of your sinus infection and provide effective treatment that alleviates your symptoms and brings long-term relief.


The tonsils are two fleshy tissues found on either side at the back of your throat. They’re part of the immune system and help fight germs and bacteria that can make you sick.

But sometimes, they can also be susceptible to bacterial or viral infection. Tonsillitis is the infection of your tonsils. It occurs in both children and adults.

While it’s a common condition, it comes with serious side effects. It can be hard to eat or drink when your tonsils are swollen due to tonsillitis.

You may also experience other symptoms like:

  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Coughing
  • Fever and chills
  • Ear pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Red tonsils
  • Bad breath
  • Stiff neck

If you’re suffering from tonsillitis, make an appointment with an ENT specialist at Suburban Otolaryngology to find appropriate treatment options. Your otolaryngologist can prescribe medication to help improve your symptoms.

They may also suggest a tonsillectomy if your tonsillitis doesn’t respond to treatments, occurs frequently, or causes serious complications.

Sleep Apnea

Another common reason to visit an otolaryngologist is sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a serious sleeping disorder that occurs when you repeatedly stop breathing during sleep.

Every time that happens, your brain wakes you up so you can start breathing again. You may make choking noises or gasp for air as you try to breathe.

Often, your partner or a roommate will be the one that notices symptoms of sleep apnea, like pauses in breathing, loud snoring, and gasping for air.

Other symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Waking up with a headache
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive daytime fatigue and sleepiness
  • Waking up with a sore throat or dry mouth

If your partner has noticed any sleep apnea symptoms, it’s vital to go to an otolaryngologist. Not seeing an ENT specialist puts you at risk of developing other health problems if you don’t seek treatment for sleep apnea, like:

  • Obesity
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke

An otolaryngologist can recommend you complete a sleep study to determine if you have sleep apnea, how severe it is, and the most effective treatment option. Treatment may include lifestyle changes like losing weight or wearing an oral appliance that repositions your jaw while sleeping.

You can also undergo a minimally-invasive procedure called Coblation to open up your sinuses and help you breathe easier while sleeping. Coblation removes and shrinks excess tissue inside the soft palate using a specially designed radiofrequency device to reduce snoring or reduce nasal stuffiness.

Trusted, Experienced Otolaryngologists

If you suffer from any of these or another condition that an otolaryngologist can address, it’s essential to see one of the top-rated ENT specialists at Suburban Otolaryngology. The sooner you seek expert help, the quicker you’ll find lasting relief and prevent your condition from worsening.

Schedule your appointment today at Suburban Otolaryngology in Berwyn, IL, to get to the bottom of your problem and alleviate your symptoms.


3340 S. Oak Park Ave Suite 204,
Berwyn, IL 60402

Phone: 708-749-3070
Map to Suburban Otolaryngology Location