What is Rhinology?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 October 2019
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Rhinology is a medical discipline that is usually considered a subspecialty of ear, nose, and throat medicine. In particular, rhinology is the study of health issues that can impact the structure and function of the nose. The discipline also addresses the treatment these issues, and range from the use of antibiotics to treat infection to surgical techniques to correct abnormalities of some type.

The healthcare professional who specializes in the treatment of the nose is normally referred to as a rhinologist. Like most medical professionals, rhinologists receive special training that makes it possible to accurately diagnose and treat all sorts of ailments. This includes identifying and removing tumors, diagnosing allergies that cause swelling in nasal passages, and even in using surgery to correct damage that took place during the course of an accident.

A medical professional who provides rhinologic care is sometimes considered to be a specialist in the field of otology. However, rhinology is somewhat broader, in the sense that the rhinologist is likely to also be proficient in treating health issues that occur in the general area of the nose. For example, this can include treating tear ducts that are blocked or surgically removing a tumor that is placing pressure on the area directly below the nasal passages. Because of the scope of practice involved, such subcategories as otology rhinology and laryngology rhinology have developed.


The exact origins of rhinology are unknown. However, many historians believe that the study and treatment of the nose can be traced back to ancient Egypt. Regardless of when this type of medical discipline began to emerge, there can be no doubt that the 20th century saw a considerable increase in the ability to accurately diagnose and treat illnesses that were connected with the nose and the nasal passages.

Notable advances in rhinology have included a better understanding of the function of the nasal passages and how those functions interact with the surrounding tissue and organs. At the same time, this discipline has also seen the creation of a wider range of medications that can be used to effectively deal with many issues such as inflammation and infection. Surgical procedures have also been developed that are less invasive, making recovery from rhinology surgery much easier for a patient. Many conditions can now be treated using keyhole surgery, a form of endoscopy that produces less pain for the patient and requires very little in the way of recovery time.


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