Glossary of ENT and ENT-related terms


  • Cholesteatoma – A cyst-like sac most commonly found in the middle ear; can enlarge and destroy nearby bones.
  • Dizziness (see Vertigo)
  • Ear Infections (see Otitis Externa and Otitis Media)
  • Eustachian Tube Dysfunction – The tube that connects the ear to the throat is not working properly; blockage of the tube leads to ear infections or pressure.
  • Fullness in the Ears – Sense that the ears are plugged.
  • Hearing Loss – Loss of hearing that can be caused by a variety of factors.
  • Impacted Cerumen – Earwax that has accumulated in the ear canal and frequently needs to be removed by a professional.
  • Labyrinthitis – Inflammation of the passages of the inner ear (labyrinths), which can cause dizziness and vomiting.
  • Mastoiditis – Inflammation or infection of the mastoid bone, which is located behind the ear.
  • Meniere’s Disease – Condition characterized by symptoms such as hearing loss, ringing in the ear, dizziness, and a sensation of fullness or pressure in the ears.
  • Otalgia – Earache or pain in the ear.
  • Otitis Externa – Inflammation or infection of the outside of the ear or ear canal.
  • Otitis Media – Inflammation or infection of the middle ear.
  • Otorrhea – Drainage from the ear.
  • Otosclerosis – A condition characterized by hardening of the bones in the ear which can cause hearing loss.
  • Ringing in the ears (see Tinnitus)
  • Sudden Hearing Loss – Hearing loss that occurs within a short period of time.
  • Tinnitus – Ringing, buzzing, humming, or clicking sound in the ears.
  • Tympanic Membrane Perforation – A hole in the eardrum.
  • Tympanosclerosis – Scarring of the eardrum.
  • Vertigo – Sensation of moving around in space or of having objects move around the person.


  • Bell’s Palsy – Paralysis of the face thought to be caused by a swelling of the facial nerve.
  • Facial Fracture – A broken bone in the face.
  • Neuralgia – Pain caused by inflammation or injury to a nerve.
  • TMJ Syndrome (Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome) – Severe aching in the joint of the jaw, made worse by chewing.

Throat & Mouth

  • Adenoiditis – Inflammation of the adenoids, the lymphatic tissue in the back wall of the nose.
  • Aphthous Stomatitis – Canker sores.
  • Dysphagia – Difficulty swallowing.
  • Epiglottitis – Inflammation or infection of the epiglottis, the flap of cartilage behind the tongue.
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux (Reflux Esophagitis) – The return of stomach acid and contents back into the esophagus, often causing heartburn.
  • Globus Sensation – A feeling of a lump in the throat.
  • Hoarseness – Voice disturbance or voice change.
  • Hypertrophy (Tonsils with Adenoids) – Enlargement of tonsil/adenoid area.
  • Laryngitis – Vocal cord inflammation, often causing hoarseness.
  • Odynophagia – Painful swallowing.
  • Paralysis of the Vocal Cords – Vocal cord(s) that do not move.
  • Pharyngitis – Inflammation of the throat.
  • Peritonsillar Abscess – Infection in a pocket behind the tonsils.
  • Stomatitis – Inflammation in the mouth.
  • Stridor – Harsh sound produced when breathing.
  • Tonsils – Lymphatic tissue located on the sides of the throat.
  • Tonsillitis – Inflammation or infection of the tonsils.
  • Uvula – Fleshy structure that hangs down the back of the throat.
  • Vocal Cords – Membranous folds stretched across the larynx, which produce sound by their vibrations as air passes between them.
  • Vocal Cord Polyps or Nodules – Growths on the vocal cords, which can cause changes in the voice.


  • Cough – A protective reflex that occurs when an irritant stimulates one of the several cough receptors in the airway.

Head & Neck

  • Lymphadenopathy – Enlarged lymph nodes (glands).
  • Parotitis – Inflammation of the parotid gland, the salivary gland situated in front of
  • Sialadenitis – Inflammation of the salivary gland, which produces saliva in the mouth.
  • Sialolithiasis – Presence of tiny, stone-like substances in the salivary gland.

Thyroid & Parathyroid

  • Goiter – Enlargement of the thyroid gland, located in the front of the neck.
  • Parathyroid Glands – Four small endocrine glands lying close to the posterior surface of the thyroid gland. The gland secretes the hormone parathormone.
  • Thyroid and Parathyroid Diseases – Any of several conditions that result when the thyroid or parathyroid glands produce too little or too much hormone.
  • Thyroid Gland – Ductless gland found on both sides of the trachea. Secretes thyroxine which controls metabolism.
  • Thyroid Nodule – A little knot of cells on the thyroid gland.
  • Thyroiditis – Inflammation of the thyroid gland.

Nose & Sinus

  • Allergic Rhinitis – Inflammation of the lining of the nose caused by allergies.
  • Anosmia – Is a lack of functioning olfaction or in other words, an inability to perceive odors.
  • Deviated Nasal Septum – A bend in the bony wall that divides the two sides of the nose.
  • Epistaxis – Bleeding from the nose. See also What Causes Nosebleeds.
  • Hypertrophy of Turbinates – Enlargement of tissue located in the nose that often causes difficult nasal breathing.
  • Nasal Contusion – Bruising of the nasal bone or linings.
  • Nasal Fracture – Broken nose.
  • Nasal Polyp – A small growth of inflammatory tissue found in the nose.
  • Nosebleed (see Epistaxis and What Causes Nosebleeds)
  • Sinusitis – Inflammation or infection of a sinus.
  • Vestibulitis – Inflammation or infection of the nose lining.

General Conditions

  • Foreign Body – An object in an abnormal location which can cause obstruction and infection.
  • Inflammation – The reaction of tissue to an injury or insult, resulting in swelling of the offended area.
  • Infection – Occurs when the body or portion of the body is invaded by an organism such as bacteria or virus.
  • Sleep Apnea – A disorder characterized by the inability to breathe during sleep.
  • Snoring – The noise produced while breathing through the mouth during sleep.
  • Speech/Language Disorder – Problems with producing words or individual sounds.
  • Tumors – Benign or malignant masses.


  • Allergic Conjunctivitis – Inflammation of the tissue lining of the eyelid due to exposure to allergens.
  • Allergic Hives (Urticaria) – Swollen red bumps or blotches that appear on the skin, often accompanied by intense itching.
  • Allergy Testing (Serial Endpoint Titration Method) – A series of needle pricks to determine which airborne allergens the individual is allergic to and the degree to which the individual is allergic to each one.
  • Allergic Rhinitis – Inflammation of the nasal tissue, often due to sensitivity to an allergen.
  • Anaphylaxis – A life-threatening allergic hypersensitive reaction of the body to a foreign protein or drug.
  • Spirometry – Measurement of breathing capacity with a spirometer.