Ear, Nose & Throat issues are extremely common in young children. As mentioned in our previous post “Does your child need to see a Pediatric ENT” the ear, nose, and throat regions are not fully developed until age 6 which can lead to improper function. Millions of children see their pediatrician each year for ear infections alone. Ear infections and tonsil & adenoids are two of the most common ENT complications children experience. The purpose of this post is to explore these and some other common pediatric ENT problems and what can be done about them.
Ear infections occur when bacteria or viruses collect within the middle ear right behind the eardrum. Children are more prone to ear infections because the bone is still developing and the parts of the ear that drain fluid is smaller and more horizontal than vertical. This can lead to drainage complications creating the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive once mucus begins to build up. Ear infections can easily be diagnosed and treated by your pediatrician with antibiotics and/or over the counter pain relievers. If the ear infection continues to return and treatment does not help, a pediatric ENT can preform a surgical procedure that places small ventilation tubes within the ear to improve air flow and minimize fluid back up that leads to infections. These tubes will eventually fall out on their own. If tubes still do not resolve frequent ear infections, your ENT may also consider removing the adenoids.
Adenoids & Tonsils
Adenoids are patches of tissues that sit in the back of the nasal cavity. Both tonsils and adenoids do important work to trap bacteria and viruses and fight off infection. Adenoids can become swollen leading to further infection and complications. If adenoids become a source of sickness, your doctor may recommend their removal. Tonsils and adenoids are frequently removed at the same time.
In Louisiana where “allergy season” seems to be year round, allergies are a very common source of pediatric ENT visits. Common allergy triggers in children are pollen, insect bites/stings, pets, dust mites, mold, cigarette smoke, perfume, and a variety of food allergies including peanuts, eggs, and milk products. Allergy symptoms are typically easy to identify. If you notice skin rashes or hives, difficulty breathing, sneezing, coughing, runny nose and itchy eyes with no other signs of a cold, its likely allergies. Start by keeping track of symptoms and the environment when they are at their peak. This will be helpful for helping your ENT narrow down the source and finding the best treatment options. If your child seems to have lots of triggers, allergy testing may be recommended prior to a treatment plan.
Allergies are the most common source of nasal congestion (stuffy nose) in children. When one or both sides of the nose are fully blocked it is called a nasal obstruction. This can lead to mouth breathing, especially while sleeping, preventing your little one from getting proper rest. If left untreated, nasal congestion and mouth breathing over time can have negative impacts on overall health including teeth and bone growth and difficulty learning due to lack of sleep.
Sinusitis & Rhinitis
The sinuses are not fully developed until late into the teen years. Sinusitis can be difficult to diagnose due to the similarities in symptoms in common viral illness or allergies. If you notice a cold lasing more than 10-14 days, fever, thick recurring nasal drainage and post nasal drip, frequent headaches, fatigue, swelling around the eyes, or frequent sinus infections you should see a pediatric ENT. A pediatric ENT will examine the ear, nose, and throat and look for factors that are likely leading to the frequent sinus infections such as structural changes, allergies, and more. Allergy testing may be recommended and treatment may be a part of the overall solution. Depending on your child’s situation, medical or surgical treatment may be necessary. Surgery is considered for a small percentage of children with sever and persistent sinusitis symptoms.
Some other issues that can stem from ear, nose, and throat issues in children include sore throats, snoring, hearing & balance disorders, and voice disorders. If your child has any of the issues mentioned or discussed in this article that is negatively impacting their health and/or quality of life, Camellia ENT would love the opportunity to sit down with you and your family to discuss an appropriate plan of action.