Recently, Hao “Mimi” Tran, M.D., F.A.C.S., sat down with popular physician rating site Healthgrades.com to discuss her specialty of otolaryngology, and what patients should look for when choosing a specialist. See what she had to say below or check out the full article on HealthGrades.com.

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What do you wish more patients understood about your specialty?

We are not just a surgical specialty. Most ear, nose and throat problems can be handled successfully with non-surgical options. A knowledgeable ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor can provide a full spectrum of treatment options and address the patient’s concerns.  

What are some misconceptions the public seems to hold about otolaryngology?

Many people seem to think that ENT surgery involves performing mainly tonsillectomy and ear tube placement. However, the variety of procedures is much broader and includes handling airway emergencies, nosebleeds, snoring/sleep apnea, head and neck cancer, thyroid surgery, skin cancer on the face, sinus conditions, voice disorders, complex ear problems, salivary gland issues and facial plastic surgery.

The trend is moving towards offering minimally invasive options that can be performed in the office, such as in-office balloon dilation for sinus obstruction, laser treatment for vocal cord lesions, and mouth appliances for sleep apnea to name a few.

What information tends to surprise patients when you share it with them?

Many patients are surprised that we offer allergy skin testing for inhalant allergies and immunotherapy to make them less sensitive to pollen by changing their allergy immune response. Most people have heard of getting allergy shots to desensitize their immune system, but now there is also the option of allergy drops that are given under the tongue.

The second most surprising piece of information is that many ENT practices offer not only hearing tests but also a wide range of hearing aids. These hearing devices are fitted by an audiologist, who truly understands the science of hearing, and will help the patient choose the most appropriate hearing aid.

When should a patient see an ENT? What are some signs it’s time to see a specialist?

Approximately 1 out of 4 patients that see their primary care physician have an ENT related complaint. Some of the most common problems include recurrent ear, nose and/or throat infections, impacted earwax, allergies, nasal blockage, hearing loss, voice change, difficulty swallowing, an abnormal growth in the head and neck present for more than two weeks, and dizziness. If an ENT issue is not cleared up with initial treatment, then seeing a specialist can be beneficial.

What should I look for in an ENT?

It is important to look for an ENT doctor that is board certified. Within the field of otolaryngology, there are fellowship trained specialties such as pediatrics, sleep apnea, laryngology (voice conditions), sinus surgery, neurotology (ear problems), facial plastic surgery and head and neck cancer. I recommend that patients look for a doctor who has experience in your specific condition. Also, it is good to have a trusting relationship with your ENT doctor so make sure to express your concerns and questions so that there can be a two-way conversation.

More About Dr. Tran
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