You are with sore throatearache, with suspicion of laryngitistonsillitis or need sleep apnea treatment? For all these cases, there is a professional who can help you: the otorhinolaryngologist. This comprehensive specialty of Medicine acts in the therapy and prevention of various diseases of the ear canal, nose and throat. In celebration of Otorhinolaryngologist’s Day, March 3rd, Care for Life interviewed an expert on the subject, Dr. Luísi Rabaioli, to clarify what this specialty does and when we should look for this professional.
Otorhinolaryngologist: what does he do? Understand the areas that this professional studies
The otorhinolaryngologist is the physician responsible for nose health care, ears and throat. But, Dr. Luísi points out that the specialty goes beyond that: “It also operates in facial aesthetics, in Sleep Medicine… the otorhinolaryngologist is responsible for three of the five senses: hearing, smell and taste”. Another curiosity about this area is that, to become an otorhinolaryngologist, you need at least nine years of study: six in medicine and three more in residency in otorhinolaryngology. Some even carry out subspecializations in specific areas within the specialty.
From sore throat to tonsillitis: main diseases that the otolaryngologist treats
Otorhinolaryngology is a very broad specialty, capable of treating various diseases of the ear, nose and throat: “Rhinitissinusitis, colds and flu, tonsillitishearing loss, otitisvoice changes, snoring and sleep apneabalance disorders, tinnitus… The specialty meets demands of all ages, from babies to the elderly, in addition to working in consultations and surgeries”, details the doctor.
Problems also tend to vary according to the season, as explained by the specialist: “In summer, there are many problems with the ear, related to swimming in the pool and sea. In autumn and spring, it’s the turn of allergic rhinitis attacks. In winter, flu, cold, fever and cough usually come with everything”. So this is usually a doctor you can go to all year round.
When to look for the otorhinolaryngologist?
The main warning signs that indicate the need to seek out this professional are: difficulty breathing through the nose, nosebleeds, decreased sense of smell, snoring and sleep apnea, earachedifficulty hearing, excess wax in the ears, tinnitus, coughing, throat clearing, sore throat, voice changes, dizziness and imbalance, difficulty swallowing and gagging.
“Certainly, everyone will need an evaluation with an otorhinolaryngologist at some point in their lives. In addition, we also work on speech delays in children, injuries or nodules in the head or neck region and cosmetic surgeries such as rhinoplasty and otoplasty”, adds Dr. Luísi.
Consultation with a general practitioner, emergency service or care with an otorhinolaryngologist: how to differentiate each case?
For each situation, it’s important to pay attention to the signs your body emits. “Emergency services are the first choice in situations that require a quick assessment or are life-threatening, such as nosebleeds or fractures, high fever and malaise, intense dizziness, foreign objects placed in the nose and throat”, warns the specialist. In some hospitals, it is already possible to find an otorhinolaryngological emergency service, where it is possible to carry out these evaluations, but if the unit does not have one, a general practitioner can perform immediate care.
For less serious situations, when the symptoms do not cause major discomfort, the recommendation is to schedule an evaluation with the otorhinolaryngologist as soon as possible. “In the office, the otorhinolaryngologist has specialized devices for evaluating the ears, nose and throat. In addition, it is possible to perform a simple and very useful exam called videonasolaryngoscopy, in which a microcamera is inserted through the nose and allows the evaluation of all structures of the airway, such as sinuses, adenoid, pharynx, larynx, vocal folds. This exam is quick and does not require fasting or anesthesia, and can also be done in children”, concludes the doctor.