What is Otolaryngology, Anyway? A Guide to the Specialties

Everyone knows what a pediatrician does, but what the heck is a nephrologist, and why would you need one? Here’s your answer. Any of these titles could be important to know someday, and even if you never need to call on one of these specialists, you can always use this list to sharpen your kid’s spelling bee skills.

Allergy/Immunology: Doctors in this area specialize in treatment of disorders of the immune system, and adverse reactions to a specific substance.

Anesthesiology: The anesthesiologist provides pain relief and suppresses consciousness during surgery or a medical procedure. He or she also monitors and assesses a patient’s condition during operations.

Cardiology: Cardiologists specialize in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders of the heart and circulatory system.

Dermatology: Dermatologists treat skin disorders and diseases including acne and cancer, among others.

Emergency Care: Doctors in this specialty provide immediate care to patients with acute injuries or illnesses, usually in a hospital emergency department.

Endocrinology: Endocrinologists treat the glands, hormones and related disorders such as diabetes, menstrual problems and metabolic diseases.

Gastroenterology: Doctors in this specialty treat disorders of the digestive system.

Geriatrics: A specialty for elder care, the geriatrician deals with Alzheimer’s, incontinence and other health issues affecting older adults.

General/Family Practice: These doctors protect and promote general health and wellbeing, and are concerned with preventing disease for patients of all ages.

Gynecological Oncology: These specialists treat patients with cancer of the female reproductive and urinary systems.

Gynecology: A gynecologist treats the female reproductive system.

Hematology/Oncology: This specialty involves the treatment of blood diseases (and blood-forming organs) and cancer.

Infectious Diseases: The study of germs and diseases of all types and organs that suppress the immune system.

Internal Medicine: A field where a primary care physician gives comprehensive care in the diagnosis and nonsurgical treatment of adult general illness and injury.

Nephrology: This specialty focuses on functions or diseases of the kidneys, including dialysis and high blood pressure.

Neurology: A neurologist treats diseases and impaired function of the brain and nervous system.

Obstetrics: OB doctors focus on women during pregnancy, labor and delivery, as well as the time period immediately following childbirth.

Ophthalmology: An ophthalmologist diagnoses and treats eye and vision disorders and diseases.

Otolaryngology: Also known as ear, nose and throat doctors; facial plastic surgery is also part of this discipline.

Pathology: Pathologists analyze the nature of disease through organs, tissues, cells and alterations in body chemistry to help diagnose and treat it.

Pediatrics: Doctors who specialize in the health of children from birth to adolescence.

Podiatry: The treatment of diseases and disorders of the feet.

Psychiatry: Psychiatrists diagnose and treat mental, emotional and behavioral disorders such as depression or eating disorders.

Pulmonary Diseases: Doctors in this specialty are concerned with the lungs and airways, diagnosing and treating diseases such as pneumonia, cancer, asthma, bronchitis and emphysema, among others.

Radiology: A radiologist uses X-rays, CT scans, MRIs and other image-guided procedures to diagnose and treat diseases.

Reproductive Medicine: This specialty relates to reproductive hormones and glands, and infertility.

Rehabilitation/Physical Medicine: Doctors in this field manage the injury and improvement of the muscle/nerve/skeletal system.

Rheumatology: The diagnosis and treatment of inflammatory diseases in muscles and joints, such as arthritis.

Sports Medicine: This specialty deals not only with the enhancement of health and fitness through sports, but also prevention of injury and illness, as well as orthopedic surgery when necessary. Physicians in this field are concerned with exercise physiology, nutrition and physical rehabilitation, among other things.

Surgery: Surgeons of all kinds treat injuries and disease through surgical operations.