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BackTable / ENT / Podcast / Episode #65

Lifestyle Medicine in Otolaryngology

with Dr. Jessica Lee

In this episode of BackTable ENT, Dr. Shah and Dr. Agan discuss the role of lifestyle medicine and non-pharmacological therapy in otolaryngology with Dr. Jessica Lee, a general ENT who is certified in lifestyle medicine.

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Lifestyle Medicine in Otolaryngology with Dr. Jessica Lee on the BackTable ENT Podcast)
Ep 65 Lifestyle Medicine in Otolaryngology with Dr. Jessica Lee
00:00 / 01:04

BackTable, LLC (Producer). (2022, July 26). Ep. 65 – Lifestyle Medicine in Otolaryngology [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from

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Podcast Contributors

Dr. Jessica Lee discusses Lifestyle Medicine in Otolaryngology on the BackTable 65 Podcast

Dr. Jessica Lee

Dr. Jessica Lee is a practicing otolaryngologist and lifestyle medicine specialist in Charleston, South Carolina.

Dr. Ashley Agan discusses Lifestyle Medicine in Otolaryngology on the BackTable 65 Podcast

Dr. Ashley Agan

Dr. Ashley Agan is a practicing ENT and assistant professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, TX.

Dr. Gopi Shah discusses Lifestyle Medicine in Otolaryngology on the BackTable 65 Podcast

Dr. Gopi Shah

Dr. Gopi Shah is a practicing ENT at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, TX.

Show Notes

First, Dr. Lee explains the philosophy behind lifestyle medicine. The purpose of the field is to treat and/or reverse chronic ailments using basic pillars, such as plant based nutrition, quality sleep, emotional connections, avoidance of risky substances, adequate physical activity, etc. Certification in lifestyle medicine is open to all board-certified physicians. Dr. Lee underwent 1.5 years of preparation, which included 30 hours of CME courses online and 10 hours of in person CME. At the end of her program, she was required to pass a board certification exam. Her initial motivation for obtaining her lifestyle medicine certification stemmed from a realization that many ENT concerns were a result of systemic chronic diseases. Dr. Lee views her lifestyle medicine approach as a partnership between her, her patient, and their PCP. Before she offers lifestyle medicine counseling separate from ENT counseling, she always ensures that the patient is open to pursuing this approach.

Next, the doctors discuss diet, the most evidence-based pillar of lifestyle medicine. In this field of medicine, the best diet is plant-based. Dr. Lee notes that a “plant-based” diet does not mean vegetarian or vegan, but instead just a plant-heavy diet. Additionally, she recommends reducing alcohol use and starting a low histamine diet for patients with chronic inflammation. However, she emphasizes to always set an endpoint to restrictive diets in order to effectively find a good threshold for the patient. For laryngopharyngeal reflux, she recommends eliminating nighttime ice cream snacks and alcoholic beverages.

Then, the doctors discuss effective approaches to smoking cessation. Dr. Lee emphasizes the importance of discussing support systems with patients wanting to quit smoking. Additionally, she agrees that the most effective smoking cessation therapy is a combination of nicotine replacement and group counseling. Although the effects of marijuana and vaping as substitutes for cigarettes are not widely studied, Dr. Lee notes that marijuana can be an irritant and vaping can cause lung injury.

Another pillar of lifestyle medicine is emotional health. Through cognitive behavior therapy, she has been able to mitigate her patients’ symptoms of tinnitus and globus pharyngeus. Additionally, she does not prescribe medications for anxiety or depression, as research has shown that daily physical activity is equivalent to daily medications for mild to moderate depression. Regarding adequate sleep, Dr. Lee warns doctors not to correlate the number of hours the patient spends in bed with the number of hours they spend asleep. She acknowledges that health tracker devices can be helpful for tracking sleep hours and dysfunction. Finally, she advises doctors who are interested in lifestyle medicine to refer their patients to specialists who share the same philosophy for consistent continuation of care.


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Disclaimer: The Materials available on are for informational and educational purposes only and are not a substitute for the professional judgment of a healthcare professional in diagnosing and treating patients. The opinions expressed by participants of the BackTable Podcast belong solely to the participants, and do not necessarily reflect the views of BackTable.

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