Nasal Polyps: Why See a Specialist?
Nasal polyps are noncancerous teardrop-shaped growths that grow along the lining of the nose and sinuses. They occur as a result of chronic inflammation, and people with asthma and allergies are more likely to experience them. While small polyps might not cause problems, larger ones can lead to discomfort, cold-like symptoms, facial pain, loss of smell, and even block your nasal passages so it’s harder to breathe. Nasal polyps affect everyone differently, which is why all patients should follow unique treatment plans tailored to their specific needs. But your primary care doctor may not have all the information you need to manage your nasal polyps successfully. That’s where a specialist comes in: a nasal polyps specialist, called an otolaryngologist or more commonly, an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor, has the right skills and insight to help you stay in control of your nasal polyps. Here’s why:
An ENT is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders in the head and neck–in particular, the ears, nose, and throat. These conditions might range from ear infections to sinusitis to nose bleeds and more, and ENTs must train extensively to master this area of study. An ENT will have expertise in treating nasal polyps and other conditions related to their field.
All doctors complete a training program called a residency after they finish medical school. But ENTs receive considerable training beyond that. ENTs spend several additional years in a fellowship, during which they train under experienced ENTs and focus on patients with nasal polyps and other problems affecting the ears, nose, and throat. At the end of this period, they can take an exam to become board-certified otolaryngologists. Look for a doctor who is board certified in otolaryngology and you’ll know you’re seeing an expert.
To maintain their board certifications, ENTs must keep up with new developments in their field. They’re required to complete continuing education and renew their licenses every few years, depending on the state in which they practice and other factors. By following these requirements, board-certified ENTs stay on top of new treatments and discoveries about the mechanisms involved in nasal polyps, so they can then provide their patients with insightful, informed, and up-to-date treatment plans.
ENTs see a higher volume and concentration of patients with nasal polyps, and thus are more experienced in treating the condition successfully. Because of this experience, they can add real-world knowledge of the disease to their academic and clinical training. They’re able to assess how well patients respond to certain treatments, consider new therapies, have a deeper understanding of the causes of nasal polyps, share insight about effectively implementing lifestyle changes, and recognize symptoms that a general practitioner may miss, among other skills.
ENTs work with teams of other health care providers who treat patients with nasal polyps and can connect patients with allergists, surgeons, nurse practitioners, and other experts in nasal polyps management. Working with a team can help patients address all aspects of the issue and ensure success.
There are thousands of ENTs in the United States, so how do you know which is the right doctor for you? By searching on Healthgrades.com, you can identify the best ENT to help you manage your nasal polyps successfully.