Dr. Neal Burkhalter is a physician with Lexington ENT & Allergy, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice. He joined our hospital network recently. We sat down with him to get to know him and ask him some clinical questions related to his specialty.
When did you decide that you wanted to be a doctor?
I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a doctor – probably by age 12 or 13 – and that persisted throughout my education. I also had great educators who encouraged me and gave me confidence to pursue medicine.
I had an early love for science and I love people. It seemed like a natural fit. I’m very extroverted, and I also love the challenge of thinking through problems and “fixing” things.
Why did you choose ENT as your specialty?
I knew pretty quickly in my medical education that I wanted to do something surgical, but I also struggled with the fact that I wanted longer-term relationships. That usually doesn’t happen with a surgical specialty. ENT provided a good mix of those two things. I love the complex surgical aspects of head and neck surgery, and the relationships I have from treating patients medically over time.
What are your favorite parts of the job?
I love the diversity of ENT. We serve a wide variety of patients – from premature infants to the very elderly. Some are relatively easy problems like runny noses and some are very complex, such as advanced head and neck cancer.
What are some common problems that you see in your practice?
I commonly see kids and adults with recurrent ear infections, chronic sinus infections, tonsil problems, allergies and hoarseness.
What do you want patients to know about how to treat those problems?
Ear infections and sinus infections are common and can be difficult to treat. They both can be treated with medicines, but sometimes surgery is necessary.
Tonsil problems can range from ongoing tonsil infections to large tonsils that can cause sleep apnea and have a wide range of health and life effects.
Allergies are very complex and often require multiple visits to try to find the right combination of medications and allergy testing to help know to what things you are allergic.
There are multiple reasons for hoarseness, but anyone who has been hoarse for six weeks or more should have their voice box examined by an ENT, especially if they have a history of smoking.
Dr. Burkhalter is accepting new patients. For more information, visit the practice’s website.