Young children are especially susceptible to various ear, nose and throat conditions. This is mainly because they have immature immune systems and are more prone to infections, especially in the first several years of life. Knowing the signs and symptoms is important when deciding when to seek care. We take the time to explain diagnoses, treatment options and preventive measures in a clear and understandable manner.
Our providers follow clinical practice guidelines for recommendations "intended to optimize patient care that are informed by a systematic review of evidence and an assessment of the benefits and harms of alternative care options" developed by the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery. Our patients must meet these criteria before we pursue surgical measures.
Otitis media, or an infection of the middle ear, is the most frequent diagnosis for children who visit physicians for illness. It is also the most common cause of hearing loss in children. Patients experience discomfort due to inflammation and fluid build-up behind the eardrum. The use of antibiotics, ear drops and making specific lifestyle changes may be considered for treating the condition.
For chronic infections, an alternative treatment is the placement of ear tubes. Ear tubes, also known as tympanostomy tubes or grommets, are tiny cylindrical devices that are surgically inserted into the eardrum. The primary function of these tubes is to help drain fluid and equalize pressure in the middle ear, which is the area behind the eardrum. The results typically reduce the risk of ear infections, improve hearing and relieve pain and discomfort for the child.
Nasal obstruction—Young children tend to insert various objects into their noses: peas, beans, cherry pits, beads, buttons, safety pins and plastic toys. A foreign body can cause a foul-smelling discharge and hinder breathing. Thus, the object needs to be removed.
Sinus infection—Symptoms of sinusitis are a cold lasting more than 10 to 14 days, thick yellow-green nasal drainage, post-nasal drip (exhibited as sore throat, cough, bad breath, nausea or vomiting), headache, irritability, fatigue and swelling around the eyes.
Tonsils and adenoids – Near the entrance of the breathing passages, tonsils and adenoids can catch incoming germs, which cause infections. This happens primarily during the first few years of life, becoming less critical as we age. Children who have their tonsils and adenoids removed maintain their resistance to infection. These procedures are primarily carried out due to recurring tonsillitis, or inflammation of the tonsils, throat infections or obstructive sleep apnea.
If your child requires surgery to remove their tonsils or a tonsillectomy, provide them with solid reassurance and support. Tell them to expect a sore throat after surgery but explain that the procedure will make them healthier. Encourage your child that the operation does not remove any substantial parts of the body and that they will not look any different afterward.
Parents need to be aware of the potential consequences of loud and frequent snoring in children. Research has shown that children who snore loudly for five or more nights per week often experience reduced sleep quality. This can have a negative impact on their learning capacity, attention span and even their overall growth. Adenotonsillectomy, or removal of the adenoids, often reduces or ultimately cures snoring, allowing children and their families to rest easily.