Preparing for your ENT appointment

ENT Physicians

If your primary care physician has referred you to an Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) doctor for further treatment of your sinus condition, there are things you can do to prepare for the appointment. If it’s your first time visiting an ENT, you may not know exactly what to expect. These guidelines are to help give you some idea of what may happen.

Making the appointment

Your primary care doctor or insurance company will likely have provided you with a referral to an ENT specialist. When you call to make the appointment, have your insurance and referral information ready to give to the staff member at the doctor’s office.

Beforehand: Ask questions, come prepared

One of the most helpful things you can do—for yourself and for your doctor—is to ask questions if you’re unsure of something. When you schedule your appointment, take the opportunity to ask if you need to do anything to prepare for the visit. Take note of any instructions and recommendations from the staff member whom you speak with, and follow them closely.

Have you experienced any of the following symptoms for 12 consecutive weeks or longer and are over the age of 18?

  • Facial pain, pressure, or fullness
  • Difficulty breathing through nose
  • Descreased sense of smell
  • Drainage of cloudy or colored mucus
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Write down all your symptoms—even ones that may not seem related to your sinus condition. Also note how long they’ve been going on, whether they come and go or just stick around, and whether anything makes them better or worse.

Write down other conditions you’re being treated for. If you have allergies that you know of, for example, this knowledge can guide the doctor as he or she considers treatment options.

Also write down the name, dose, and frequency of any medication that you take—either prescription or over-the-counter, even vitamins and supplements. This helps avoid possible unwanted interactions between medicines, which can sometimes cause negative consequences.

If you have a trusted companion you can bring to the appointment, bring them.

During: Ask more questions, be clear about your main symptoms

If you’ve prepared beforehand, you’ll be able to answer the doctor’s questions in detail. Your doctor will need to know, among other things, what your symptoms are, how long you’ve had them, and if you’ve ever had similar symptoms before. This information can help the doctor to diagnose and treat your condition as accurately as possible.

The initial exam

Prepare for the doctor to examine your sinuses. The doctor will probably use a handheld instrument to look inside your ears, nose, and throat to determine the extent and condition. In certain cases, the doctor may want to look more closely into your sinuses by using a thin, lighted video camera (nasal endoscope) that is advanced through the nostril opening. This part of the exam is purely for visualization and usually only takes a few minutes. The endoscope allows the doctor to clearly see inside the nose and sinuses—helping determine the extent of inflammation and/or potential anatomic abnormalities.

Additionally, your ENT may order a type of X-ray called a CT (or CAT) scan; if so, you’ll be given more information at the time of your appointment.

If there’s anything you’re not clear on, the appointment is your chance to ask the doctor. Common questions include:

  • can you explain the cause of my symptoms?
  • based on my symptoms, which treatment(s) should I consider?
  • what’s the long-term prognosis for this condition?
  • is my sinus condition likely to affect my health in other ways?

If you have any specific questions about what to expect from an appointment with an ENT specialist, it is appropriate to call the specialist’s office. The staff members on duty will be able to explain what you should expect from your visit.



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The purpose of the site is to help create awareness about sinusitis and treatment options for the disease. Please note that information contained on this site is not medical advice. It should not be used as a substitute for speaking with your physician. Always talk with your physician about diagnosis and treatment information.