alt=an allergist and an ENT with a question mark between them

Allergists Versus ENTs: What Is the Difference?

Last updated: November 2022

You might not think twice about which type of doctor to see for a cold or the flu. But what if you are dealing with allergies? Knowing where to start when seeking help for allergy-related symptoms or allergies can be confusing.

Should you see an allergist or an ENT (ear, nose, and throat specialist)?

Knowing the difference between these 2 is essential because they treat different conditions. Below is a closer look at these types of providers.

What is an allergist?

Allergists are doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating conditions caused by allergies. For example, if you have seasonal allergies, food allergies, or asthma, an allergist can help. Allergists use skin tests and blood tests to diagnose allergies. Your allergist will work with you to develop a treatment plan. These plans may include:1

Common reasons to see an allergist

Allergies can cause a wide range of symptoms, from mild to severe. Some common symptoms include:1

  • Frequent sneezing or sniffling
  • Itchy eyes, nose, or throat
  • Runny nose
  • Postnasal drip
  • Coughing
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Fatigue

It is a good idea to see an allergist for testing if you experience any of these symptoms regularly. If the symptoms seem triggered by certain substances or situations, tell your allergist about the pattern. That information can help them figure out what you are allergic to.1

Your allergist can help you develop a plan to minimize your contact with substances that trigger these symptoms. In severe cases, an allergist may also prescribe medicine to help relieve symptoms.1

What is an ENT?

ENTs are also known as otolaryngologists. They are doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating conditions affecting the ear, nose, and throat. For example, they can treat colds, sinus infections, hearing loss, and balance disorders.2

However, ENTs can also treat more severe conditions such as hearing loss and cancers of the head and neck. In some cases, ENTs also perform surgery. For example, they may remove tonsils or adenoids. Or, if a child has chronic ear infections, the ENT may place tubes in the child's ears.2

Common reasons to see an ENT

Some of the most common reasons to visit an ENT doctor include the following:2

  • Ear pain or hearing loss. ENTs are experts in diagnosing and treating ear infections and other ear problems. If you are experiencing ear pain or have noticed a change in your hearing, they can help.
  • Nosebleeds or sinus problems.Nosebleeds are common. But if they occur frequently or come with other symptoms like facial pain or swelling, they could be a sign of a more severe issue. ENTs can also help to treat your sinus infections and other sinus problems.
  • Throat pain or hoarseness. Throat pain can be caused by several things, including viral infections, allergies, and cancer. An ENT can determine any serious underlying conditions if you are experiencing persistent throat pain or hoarseness.

If you are still unsure whether you need an ENT or an allergist, your best bet is to see your primary care doctor first. Your doctor can help you figure out what is going on and refer you to the right specialist.

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