Illnesses that are related to the ears, nose and the throat (ENT) are amongst the most common reasons children visit their paediatrician, each year. Ear infections are considered to be the most common illness in children, followed by frequent concerns with tonsillitis and sinusitis. While some may believe that ENT concerns are limited to the cooler months of the year, the truth is that they are commonly diagnosed year-round. While most paediatricians and family doctors can address basic ENT concerns, there does come a point where getting an ENT specialist involved could be beneficial for your child.
Here are a few situations that may mean it’s time for your little one to meet with an ENT specialist.
Chronic and persistent ear infections
According to Adelaide plastic surgeon Dr. Cleland, if your child has been diagnosed and treated for more than three ear infections over the course of six months, it may mean that your child could benefit from being fitted with grommets. Grommets are small tubes that are surgically inserted into the ear drum, with the goal of helping the ears to better drain. Grommets can help to drastically decrease the number of ear infections a child has each year.
Snoring and gasping while sleeping
While a snoring child might be cute, persistent snoring is not considered to be normal for a child. It is not necessarily a cause for serious concern, but a visit with an ENT specialist can help to ensure that your child is not struggling with a concern like sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea can often lead to a number of health concerns, including facial bone malformation and even behavioural issues. Older children may start to regress and wet the bed. Be sure to mention snoring to your child’s doctor, so that they can determine whether your child should be referred to an ENT specialist.
Recurrent colds and sinus infections
Colds are pretty normal for children, particularly children who are in school or who are frequently around other children. Children may get colds every three to four weeks and it may still be considered normal. The key consideration is whether the cold symptoms are persistent and severe. Most children can kick a quick cold within a few days. If the symptoms last longer than a week, and are accompanied by high fever and severe sore throats, it may be time to schedule a consultation with an ENT specialist.
Tonsillitis is frequently as the result of a common virus that passes within a few days. Bacterial infections can also lead to tonsillitis, with the most common bacteria being the streptococcus bacteria. It’s expected for children to be diagnosed with this infection a few times a year, particularly if they are around other children. Persistent and recurrent infections may lead to a number of other health concerns, including scarlet fever and even hearing loss. While a tonsillectomy can help to prevent frequent flare ups of tonsillitis, it’s not the right choice for each patient. During your consultation with the ENT specialist, you’ll be able to determine whether surgery is the best course of action for your child.
There is no one-size solution for children who are struggling with one or more ENT concerns. The best way to determine what treatment your child could best benefit from is to meet with an ENT specialist who can evaluate your child’s medical history. There is no specific age that is best for a consultation with an ENT specialist. Typically, children who have struggled with repeated illnesses related to ENT concerns are between the ages of 6 months old and 12 years old.