OAT answers your frequently asked questions. Learn more about ear, nose, and throat care, allergy relief, cancer care, and more.


What is Otolaryngology?

Otolaryngology (pronounced oh/toe/lair/in/goll/oh/jee) is the oldest medical specialty in the United States. Otolaryngologists are physicians trained in the medical and surgical management and treatment of patients with diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, throat (ENT), and related structures of the head and neck. They are commonly referred to as ENT physicians.

Their special skills include diagnosing and managing diseases of the sinuses, larynx (voice box), oral cavity, and upper pharynx (mouth and throat), as well as structures of the neck and face. Otolaryngologists diagnose, treat, and manage specialty-specific disorders as well as many primary care problems in both children and adults (American Academy of Otolaryngology).

How Do You Become an Otolaryngologist?

Otolaryngologists are certified to begin practicing after completing up to 15 years of college and postgraduate training and have passed the American Board of Otolaryngology examination. Upon completing medical school, graduates spend 3-5 years in an ENT residency program which includes a year of surgical training. Doctors must renew their license every 7-10 years. Meet our team of board-certified medical providers and audiologists online!

What Can I Expect During at ENT Exam?

Obviously, your exam will be tailored to your symptoms; however, you should be prepared to share a detailed medical history and a very thorough examination of the different areas of your ears, nose, and throat. Because otolaryngology is a specialty, your doctor will likely use sophisticated equipment to get a better picture of your overall condition. An otoscope may be used to illuminate your eardrum, for example, so your surgeon can better understand your ears and ear pathology. Tuning forks and microscopes may also be used. To see the insides of your nasal cavities more clearly, a speculum or endoscope may be used. For better visualization of the back of your nose or your voicebox, an otolaryngologist may use a flexible, fiberoptic nasendoscope.

What Are OAT’s Hours of Operation?

We are open from 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM, Monday-Friday. We have four convenient locations throughout the Greater Nashville area at Midtown Plaza, Centennial, State Street, and in Williamson County.

Allergy FAQ

How Do Allergy Drops Work?

Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is a well-researched and innovative approach to allergy treatment that doesn’t require painful shots. It has helped many thousands of people worldwide combat the symptoms of allergies and chronic sinusitis. Although it’s a relatively new practice in the U.S., it has been successfully used in Europe for more than 30 years. Much like injection therapy, sublingual immunotherapy delivers a slowly increasing dose of FDA-approved antigen that over time can build the body’s tolerance to an allergen. Eventually, this desensitization to the allergen results in fewer symptoms and medication needs. However, unlike injection therapy, allergy drops are placed under the tongue and affect the immune system through the mouth—the dendritic cells through the oral mucosa—which research shows to be a friendlier and more effective route to building tolerance.

What Are Some of the Advantages of Allergy Drops?

Allergy drops are not only painless and easily administered, but once our allergists have established the nature of your allergies, there’s no need for a monthly visit, as there is with injection therapy. Testing requires minimal lab work—usually just a single a blood draw—and limited need for skin tests. Furthermore, because treatment is so easy, patients are more likely to follow through and see results and enjoy an improved quality of life.

What Causes Allergies?

Allergies are caused by a reaction (an allergic reaction) to a trigger. For many allergy sufferers, common triggers include mold, pollen, dust, and animal dander. While some experience allergies year-round, many experience seasonal allergies with spring and fall taking the prize here in Middle Tennessee. For a month-by-month breakdown of seasonal allergy triggers here in Middle Tennessee, check out our blog, “When are Seasonal Allergies the Worst?

How Can I Tell if I have Allergies or a Cold?

Allergies and cold symptoms can be quite similar. So if you’re asking yourself if you have a cold, sinus infection or allergies, pay close attention to how long you’ve been sneezing or experiencing that runny nose. Colds typically last for 7-10 days while allergies can linger much longer. Furthermore, nasal discharge tends to be clear and watery with allergies and may be thick, cloudy, or yellowish with a cold.