Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) issues represent a significant portion of common childhood illnesses. It is important that you are able to recognize the symptoms of ear nose and throat problems in children and adolescents. Knowing when to contact appropriate doctors could mean the difference between minor medical treatments or serious surgical intervention.
Here is a list of 5 Common ENT Issues.
1. Ear Infections
By the age of three the majority of children will have had an ear infection, and 30% of those children will have suffered from at least three.
Children suffering from an ear infection will often display irritability, fevers, and ear drainage. Ear infections are often a result of viruses and occur when inner ear tubes become blocked and fluid accumulates behind the eardrum.
Typical treatment for ear infections includes pain relievers and, in more severe cases, antibiotics.
2. Hearing Loss
In children, genes cause 50-60% of all hearing loss. Other common causes include trauma, disease and noise exposure.
Conductive Hearing Loss (CHL) happens when sound transmission through the outer and middle ear is interrupted. This type of hearing loss is often a result of:
- wax buildup
- perforated eardrum
- middle ear fluid
- damaged bones
Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SHL) happens in the inner ear, when sound cannot be transmitted through the cochlea or auditory nerve. Common causes include: loud noise, trauma and normal aging processes. Mixed Hearing Loss (MHL) is a combination of CHL and SHL problems.
Hearing loss can be treated through medical and surgical procedures, depending on the type and severity.
3. Sinus Problems
Sinus infections occur when the cavities around nasal passages become inflamed. Symptoms of sinus infections include:
- nasal congestion
- pain in the eyes, ears and face
- facial swelling
Over the counter drugs like ibuprofen and Flonase can treat sinus infections. However, chronic sinus infections should be looked at by a physician. Surgical measures like endoscopic sinus surgery may be required to repair damaged sinuses.
4. Sleep Apnea
Sleep Apnea occurs when breathing is fully, or almost completely, interrupted for brief periods of time while you sleep. While 10% of children snore regularly, 2-4% have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).
Symptoms of sleep apnea include: snoring, gasping during sleep, not being able to sleep a full night, and waking up with headaches.
Doctors typically diagnose sleep apnea through a sleep study. Sleep studies monitor heart rate, breathing, oxygen levels and other functions to determine what treatments to administer. Wearing mouthpieces while sleeping and air pressure treatments can reduce or eliminate sleep apnea.
5. Tonsil and Adenoid Problems
Tonsillitis occurs when tonsils become inflamed. Recurring sore throats, difficulty swallowing and swollen tonsils are major signs of tonsillitis. The illness can be treated with regular pain relievers or antibiotics, but symptoms will often recur. Surgically removing the tonsils, known as a tonsillectomy, is the only way to permanently prevent tonsillitis.
Similar illnesses to tonsillitis, are adenoiditis and adenoid hypertrophy. Adenoiditis and adenoid hypertrophy both occur when adenoids, tissue between the nose and throat, become enlarged.
Adenoiditis is a result of adenoids becoming infected. Symptoms include: sore throat, swollen glands and ear pain. Adenoid hypertrophy is unusual growth of the adenoid tonsils. Enlarged adenoids can block the airflow of nasal passages, making it difficult to breath. Both adenoiditis and adenoid hypertrophy can be treated by an adenoidectomy, the removal of the adenoids.
ENT problems can become serious and painful issues for your child. Be mindful of any symptoms your child begins to exhibit and seek proper medical treatment when necessary.