Ear, nose and throat concerns are among the top reasons children are brought to the doctors. This is because children are especially sensitive to issues like ear infections and allergies. The best way to treat ear, nose and throat disorders in children is to bring them to an ENT clinic, where multiple specialists work in close collaboration to care for your child’s well-being.
At Central Alabama ENT Associates, we incorporate gentle techniques to help engage and comfort children while evaluating and treating them. We understand that children require a special kind of care, which is why we strive to minimize pain, discomfort and anxiety in our child patients.
What Is a Pediatric Otolaryngologist?
Pediatric otolaryngologists specialize in identifying, diagnosing and treating ear, nose and throat disorders in children from birth until their teenage years. They provide both surgical and medical interventions for a variety of illnesses and problems.
Treating children requires additional training, as they are not just tiny adults. Children are unable to answer medical questions or articulate what is bothering them. Pediatric otolaryngologists experienced at examining an uncooperative child and helping them relax in order to treat their ailment.
With an eye for child friendly design, a pediatric ENT’s office is a comfortable and nonthreatening environment.
What Training Does a Pediatric ENT Have?
Pediatric otolaryngologists are medical doctors who choose to complete additional years of specialized training. After obtaining a four-year medical degree, doctors will complete a one-year surgical internship, a one-year residency in general surgery, four years of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery residency training and an additional fellowship in pediatric specific ENT care.
This additional training includes the management of children with otolaryngologic disease and more unusual pediatric head and neck disorders as well as the surgical treatment of complex disorders.
Who Should See a Pediatric Otolaryngologist?
Children experiencing ear, nose, throat, head or neck issues should be diagnosed and treated by a physician trained to address these complex problems. Pediatric otolaryngologists are skilled in both the medical management and surgical treatment of ear, nose and throat conditions.
You should consider bringing your child to a pediatric ENT doctor if they are experiencing any of the following symptoms or conditions:
- Ear infections
- Dizziness and balance problems
- Sinus infections
- Snoring and sleep apnea
Common Childhood Disorders
Pediatric Breathing Disorders
Respiratory infections experienced by children can be separated into those affecting the upper respiratory system (comprising the mouth, nose, throat and sinuses) and the lower respiratory system (the bronchial tubes and lungs). These infections are characterized by shortness of breath, wheezing and rapid breathing.
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways caused by an obstruction. A child’s immune system can become overly sensitive to a specific trigger. When they encounter the irritant, their bronchi contracts, the mucus membranes swells and they produce more mucus than usual. This causes the airways to narrow and leads to breathing difficulties.
An allergy is an exaggerated response from your immune system to a normally harmless substance. When your child is exposed to an allergen, their immune system responds by flooding the bloodstream with chemicals called histamines, which attack the offending substance but cause inflammation and swelling of the airways in the process.
Children’s sinuses aren’t fully developed until they are teenagers, making them more prone to sinus infections than adults. An infection occurs when the tissue lining their sinuses becomes swollen and inflamed, usually caused by a cold or allergies.
Pediatric Tonsil Infections
This common childhood condition occurs when a viral or bacterial infection causes the tonsils to become inflamed. This leads to a sore throat and tonsils that appear red with a white or yellow coating. While in the past a common treatment method involved the surgical removal of the tonsils, known as a tonsillectomy, this procedure is now reserved for chronic cases that do not respond to other forms of medical treatment
Snoring is the result of airflow obstruction in the nose and mouth. This is typically caused by a relaxation of the throat tissues, causing the tongue, uvula and soft palate to vibrate together when your child breathes.
Pediatric Ear Infection
Children are susceptible to ear infections because of their anatomy. A virus or bacteria can cause their Eustachian tube to swell, preventing fluid from draining out of the space between their eardrum and inner ear. This buildup of fluid puts pressure on the eardrum, causing pain and discomfort.