Although children are often affected by the same ear, nose and throat conditions as adults, they often require special care to treat these complex conditions. Children are often more susceptible to ENT conditions and are commonly affected by chronic ear infections, tonsillitis, congenital defects, voice and speech disorders, sleep apnea and more. All of our doctors are specially trained to diagnose and treat the unique conditions that affect children. We strive to provide the most effective treatment while taking into consideration the comfort of our patients and concerns of their parents.
Which ENT Physician Should Treat My Child?
We recommend an ENT physician who relates well to you and your child, and who takes the time to fully explain your child’s problem and the rationale for the various treatment options. No one knows your child as well as you do, and we have found that parents have very good intuition about this choice.
We have found that there is occasionally some confusion about the term “ENT” among patients and some pediatricians. After completing four years of medical school and earning their MD degree, all U.S. trained ENT (Otolaryngology) physicians spend a very large part of their additional five or six years of specialty training (“residency”) focusing on medical and surgical treatments for children. Therefore, all U.S. trained, Board Certified ENT physicians are fully trained to treat children as a core part of their practice. That is certainly true of all the physicians in our practice, as all of our training programs placed heavy emphasis on pediatric ENT. Our physicians have performed tens of thousands of pediatric ENT surgeries since our inception.
Common Childhood Ailments
Otolaryngologists are trained specifically to diagnose and treat diseases that appear much more frequently in children than in adults. One example of such a medical condition is a middle ear infection, or otitis media, since anatomical differences in the ears of children make them much more susceptible to this problem. Another example is tonsillitis, which, along with adenoiditis is a much more common ailment in children than in adults, perhaps because of their immature immune systems.
Congenital abnormalities, such as a cleft lip, cleft palate or congenital deafness are conditions best addressed as soon as possible in early childhood, so that speech development will be impacted as little as possible. For this reason, pediatric otolaryngologists are more likely to consulted for assistance with congenital medical problems than other physicians.
While ear infections can occur in any of the three parts of the ear, they most commonly develop in the middle ear. Ear infections are caused when fluid builds up behind the eardrum in the Eustachian tubes, the tubes that connect the ears to the nose. This moist environment is conducive to the rapid growth of bacteria which result in the infection. Occasionally, although ear infections are usually caused by bacteria, viruses or allergies may be the underlying factor.
Tonsillitis / Adenoiditis
Tonsillitis is an inflammation of the tonsils, the two pads of lymphoid tissue at the back of the throat. The tonsils are part of the immune system, functioning as the first line of defense against pathogens entering the body through the nose or mouth. Because of their role is protecting the body against infections, they can easily become infected or inflamed themselves. The immune function of the tonsils diminishes after puberty, so tonsillitis, a common ailment in children, is not usually found in adults. Tonsillitis is most often caused by a virus or a bacteria, usually a type of Streptococcus, but may also result from a fungal or parasitic infection. Although usually not considered a serious disorder, severe or untreated tonsillitis may result in complications.
Any lump or swelling on the neck is considered a neck mass. Neck masses are relatively common, both in childhood and adulthood, and may be the result of swollen lymph nodes or swelling of the muscles of the neck, known as torticollis, which usually appear on the front of the neck.
Some lumps on the neck may produce no symptoms and may disappear within a few days. Nonetheless, some neck masses may be serious or even life-threatening. Any swelling on the neck that remains for a week or more should be evaluated by a physician.
Otology is the study, diagnosis and treatment of ear disorders and diseases. In addition to hearing problems, an otologist may diagnose and treat patient’s with the following disorders: Balance disorders, Tinnitus, Ear infections, Hearing loss, Meniere’s disease, Usher Syndrome, and Otosclerosis.
Many ear conditions are especially common in children, who may require special care for their condition. Pediatric otologists specialize in the the treatment of ear disorders of children.
Other Ailments Treated by Pediatric Otolaryngologists
Otolaryngologists are trained to care for a variety of medical conditions in their youngest patients. They are also trained to perform complex surgeries of the ears, nose, throat, and neck in children. Pediatric conditions that may require evaluation and treatment by an otolaryngologist include the following:
- Breathing disorders
- Ear infections, hearing loss
- Nose and sinus problems
- Tonsils and adenoid infections or inflammations
- Speech and language disorders
- Congenital abnormalities of the ear, nose, sinuses, tongue
- Head and neck tumors
- Craniofacial abnormalities, including cleft lip, cleft palate
- Facial Paralysis
- Food allergies
- Sleep apnea
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD