ENT Disorders In Pediatrics
There are countless ear, nose, and throat problems that both adults and children experience throughout their lives. However, some are more common than others. The most common otorhinolaryngological complications in adults and children are ear infections, strep throat, sinusitis, and rhinitis.
- Ear infections affect children and adults for the same reason. They occur when the Eustachian tube is blocked. It occurs when the lining of the upper respiratory tract swells due to a cold, respiratory infection, or allergy. Children suffer from ear infections much more often than adults, and adults have larger Eustachian tubes, and therefore more angular than pediatric tubes.
- Streptococcus is another common infection caused by a bacteria called Streptococcus. Strep throat usually occurs in children between 5 and 15 years of age. Sore throat, swollen tonsils, and white patches at the back of the throat. Symptoms include fever, body aches, and even abdominal pain, which most people don’t always associate with strep throat, and therefore may not want to be tested for those symptoms. If you have these symptoms, your doctor will test you for strep and if the test is positive, they will prescribe antibiotics. If your strep test is negative, your throat may be caused by a virus and therefore does not respond to antibiotics.
- Sinusitis or infected sinuses is a very painful infection. Sinusitis occurs when pus becomes trapped in the cavities of the sinuses, which are found above and below the eyes and around the nose. These can cause headaches, nasal congestion, sore throat, and fever. Sinusitis can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or allergies. The initial way to treat sinusitis is to open them with a saline solution. Our ENT doctors can prescribe the proper methods to hydrate your nose and if necessary additional treatment to reduce sinus pain.
- Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, when the nose, eyes, sinuses, throat, and sometimes ears are associated with allergens that cause allergies. Pollen, mould, dust, and animal dander are the most common allergens. Common symptoms include an itchy or runny nose, sneezing, head and nasal congestion, fatigue, itchy throat, and postpartum discharge. Both adults and children can suffer from allergies.
Pediatric ear infection
Inside the ear, there is a canal called the Eustachian tube that connects the back of the nose to the middle ear. One of the main functions of this channel is to help expel excess fluid from the ear. It also helps maintain normal air pressure in the middle ear so the eardrum can move freely. In children, the Eustachian tube is not yet fully developed. It is smaller, smaller, and parallel than the adult. These factors often inhibit the ear’s ability to drain effectively, allowing fluid to form in the middle ear and leading to an ear infection or “fluid in the ear,” both known as “otitis media.”
Patients with frequent otitis media may benefit from bilateral myringotomy and tube placement. This is a very simple and low-risk procedure that creates a temporary but constant release of pressure in the middle ear. Learn more about this process by reading Should I put tubes in my baby? You may also be interested in different types of ear infections, related symptoms, and available treatment options.
Pediatric reflux disorders
Children may find it difficult to describe their reflux disorder symptoms as accurately as adults, and this may prevent them from successfully diagnosing their condition. Parents who suspect that their child has a reflux disorder should make an appointment with an otolaryngologist for an immediate examination to avoid chronic damage. The most common types of reflux disorders in children are:
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD): The most common symptom of GERD is heartburn, which can be difficult to explain in a child. Instead, children are more likely to complain of discomfort or pain in the abdomen. Additional features include:
- Lack of appetite/weight loss
- Difficulty swallowing
- Sore throat
- Cough/throat clearing
- Sinus infection
- Ear infection
- Laryngopharyngeal reflux (RLP) is another reflux disorder that causes inflammation of the soft tissues in the back of the throat. The result is an unexplained sensation of sputum. In pediatric patients, the most common symptoms of LPR are:
- Wet cough (croup)
- Bitter taste in the back of the throat
- Irregular sleep breathing/sleep apnea
- Noisy breathing
Pediatric breathing interrupted by sleep
Sleep breathing disorders can range from loud and frequent snoring to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a serious condition in children. If left untreated, sleep-disordered breathing can lead to irritability, abnormally slow growth, weight gain, and cardiovascular problems.
Common symptoms of irregular sleep breathing in children are:
- Abnormal breathing during sleep
- Daytime mouth breathing
- Waking up from trouble
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Frequent awakenings or fluctuations
- Poor or irregular sleep patterns
If your child has these symptoms, it is important to schedule an appointment with an ENT specialist who can determine if the child is suffering from obstructive sleep apnea due to enlarged tonsils and adenoids or other causes. Irregular breathing during sleep can make other conditions worse.