Ear, Nose & Throat

Rely on the ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialists at Essentia Health to treat a wide array of conditions related to your breathing, hearing, speech, or swallowing. Our specialists treat conditions ranging from recurring ear infections and seasonal allergies to hearing loss and facial reconstruction.

What’s an ENT Doctor?

An ear, nose, and throat specialist, also called an otolaryngologist or ENT for short, is a doctor with specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions related to the ear, nose, sinuses, larynx, mouth, throat, head, and neck.

When to Get Care

Your primary care doctor can diagnose and treat most common ear, nose, and throat conditions. See a health care provider if you experience any of the following symptoms related to your ear, nose, or throat:

  • Dizziness, vertigo, or balance problems
  • Heartburn
  • Loss of ability to smell or taste
  • Lumps or sores that don’t heal
  • Nosebleeds
  • Pain or numbness
  • Speech problems
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Voice changes, sore throat, snoring, or swallowing problems

If you have severe symptoms you will be referred to an ENT specialist. 

Conditions Treated

See the full list of conditions we treat, and select a condition to find providers and locations near you.


Your Care Team

Benefit from the expertise of professionals working together with your best interest in mind. In addition to your primary care provider and ENT specialist, you may also work with:

Diagnostic Tests

Your providers may perform diagnostic tests, including:

  • Hearing tests
  • Esophageal pH monitoring to diagnose gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)
  • Imaging tests
  • Transnasal esophagoscopy (TNE) to visually inspect the throat, larynx, esophagus and upper stomach

Personalized Treatment Plan

You and your provider will work together to create a treatment plan tailored to you. Depending on your condition, your provider may recommend:

  • Lifestyle changes, like quitting smoking if you smoke
  • Using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine
  • Medications
  • Hearing aids
  • Rehabilitation services
  • Radiofrequency ablation
  • Laser treatments
  • Surgery

ENT Surgery

Your doctor will recommend noninvasive treatments, like lifestyle changes or medications, whenever possible. But if you need surgery to treat your condition, trust that your ENT specialist can expertly perform your procedure. Learn more about ENT surgery at Essentia.

Ear Infections

How do you know if it's an ear infection? When is it time to go to the doctor? Learn more in this Medical Insight video.

Medical Insight: Ear Infections Video Transcript


The Essentia Health logo appears, consisting of three leaves in a circle. Text, Essentia Health. Medical Insight. Medical Insight host, Tracy Briggs, speaks to the camera. Nearby, photographs continually scroll of infants and toddlers battling ear infections, or receiving a doctor's ear canal examination.

TRACY BRIGGS: It can be among the most helpless of feelings for a parent. Your child is sick. It might be an ear infection, it might not. But how do you know and how do you know when it's time to go to the doctor?

Dr. Alan Bruns, ear, nose, and throat specialist, speaks to a young girl, and her mother. He wears a white coat, with blue shirt.

DR. ALAN BRUNS: How are your ears feeling today? TRACY BRIGGS: Dr. Alan Bruns is a popular guy with the under 10 set. As an ear, nose, and throat specialist at Essentia Health, he's peeked into a lot of little ears on the lookout for infection. Infections often happen following a cold or virus, when the Eustachian tubes get blocked.

A chart is viewed on a wall, entitled Understanding Middle Ear Infections.

Air is unable to reach the middle ear, which creates a vacuum, which pulls fluid and germs from the nose into the middle ear. The fluid is unable to drain from the swollen tubes, becoming a perfect breeding ground for bacteria or viruses to grow into an ear infection. Bruns says 90% of children will get at least one ear infection growing up. DR. ALAN BRUNS: In younger children, they have a shorter Eustachian tube. It tends to be a little bit more horizontal, and oftentimes there's a hereditary component to this, as well, where it just doesn't work as well as it should. TRACY BRIGGS: Doctor Bruns says when the ear gets infected, you'll notice the child pulling on her ear. She might not sleep as well, be irritable, and have a low grade fever. Typically, you can treat the infection with Tylenol and warm compresses to ease the pain. He says it makes sense for parents to try what he calls watchful waiting to see if the child is fighting the illness or needs immediate attention. DR. ALAN BRUNS: And that's one of the things a physician will look at in terms of do we give antibiotics or not? How sick is the child? If the child is just a little irritated and irritable, then probably waiting a few days is not necessarily a bad thing. But if all of a sudden they have this fever and they're just really not doing well and have sharp, shooting pain, oftentimes, those are patients that would benefit from an antibiotic. TRACY BRIGGS: Most children can fight the infections with antibiotics, such as amoxicillin or augmentin. But some will need more drastic measures. Dr. Bruns says if a child has her first ear infection before the age of one or had four or so infections in six months, they would consider surgery to insert pressure equalizing, or PE tubes, to help with the drainage. He says, as children grow the tubes will come out on their own and 80% won't need another set. For Essentia Health Medical Insight, I'm Tracy Briggs.

The Essentia Health logo appears, consisting of three leaves in a circle. Text, Essentia Health. Medical Insight.


Find out when snoring is annoying, versus serious, and get tips for reducing snoring.

Medical Insight: Snoring Video Transcript

Logo, Essentia Health, Medical Insight. A man lies sleeping in bed, snoring.

[SNORING]TRACY BRIGGS: It's responsible for more sleepless nights than horror movies and coffee for together. When your spouse snores, the nights can last forever. But what causes snoring? And how do you know if it's serious or simply annoying? [SNORING]

Dr. Bruns speaks to the camera.

Dr. Alan Bruns is an ear, nose and throat doctor at Essentia Health. He says snoring is the vibration of tissue due to a narrowing of the airway in the nose or throat. It becomes serious when it causes you to stop breathing for more than 10 seconds at a time, something called obstructive sleep apnea. ALAN BRUNS:

Dr. Alan Bruns, Essentia Health Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist.

And that actually can occur several times per hour. And in those situations, you can actually have some life-threatening issues, such as cardiac disease, pulmonary disease. Because what's happening is that you don't have enough oxygen that's going to the vital organs within your body. TRACY BRIGGS: Bruns says a good way to tell if you have sleep apnea is to look at how you feel during the day. Are you frequently tired? Do you fall asleep on car rides or during movies? And how often does your husband or wife complain about your snoring? ALAN BRUNS: Something that happens every night and also if you start to notice some gasping and sputtering with the individual-- and that's probably a good time to come in to have it evaluated. TRACY BRIGGS: The evaluation happens in a place like this, a sleep lab, where they'll hook you up to a machine that will assess how much oxygen is in your blood and how often you stop breathing in the middle of the night. You'll be rated on a scale of no sleep apnea to severe sleep apnea. ALAN BRUNS: A couple minutes to wake up or a couple of hours or--TRACY BRIGGS: Bruns says depending upon its severity, you can tackle snoring in a few ways-- by sleeping on your side, putting your head up with extra pillows or a special pillow, cutting back on alcohol and caffeine, or losing weight. And there are even some over-the-counter sprays that stiffen up the airwaves to alleviate the vibrations. For more serious forms of sleep apnea, doctors will recommend you try a CPAP machine, which provides positive pressure in the airways when worn overnight.

Dr. Bruns examines the throat of a patient.

Other times surgery is recommended when there's some kind of abnormality causing obstruction in the airways, such as deviated septums and enlarged tonsils. Dr. Bruns says he's seen a marked difference in the lives of people who finally address their snoring. ALAN BRUNS: They feel that fatigue is just normal. And it's not until they have relief, oftentimes from a CPAP machine, where all of a sudden they realize that, wow, I can feel a lot better than I really do. ALAN BRUNS: With this medical insight, I'm Tracy Briggs.

Logo, Essentia Health, Medical Insight.

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