As a parent, one of your main endeavors in life is keeping your child healthy and happy. But what if your child is suffering from frequent ear infections or sore throats? What if they seem to have difficulty hearing? Are those kinds of ailments just a part of childhood that will resolve as the child gets older, or should you seek medical intervention? What if your pediatrician refers you to an ENT specialist? Why is a specialist required rather than simply seeking treatment from your pediatrician? Read on for more helpful information.
An ENT specialist is a doctor who specializes in treating issues with the ears, nose, or throat. While some issues do resolve as your child grows and many can be treated by your pediatrician, if you have questions pertaining to this part of your child's body, an ENT specialist is often the best source of answers, as this is their specialty.
When to Take a Child to an ENT
As explained by Nationwide Children's, ear infections are a common reason for parents to take a child to see a health care provider in the first three years of life. While many of these infections are isolated cases and do not require additional treatment, recurrent ear infections can cause issues during this time due to it also being the time in which speech is developed. If your child is not meeting these specific milestones, you may need to consult a specialist:
- Birth to 3 months: Child startles at loud noises, is soothed by quiet sounds, turns his or her head to you when you speak, smiles and calms down when you talk to him or her.
- 3-6 months: Turns and looks when he or she hears a new sound, responds to changes in your tone of voice, begins to repeat sounds and to imitate his or her own voice, becomes scared by a loud noise or voice.
- 6-10 months: Responds to his or her own name, knows words for common things, makes babbling sounds even when alone, starts to respond to simple commands, looks at people or items that are being shown to him or her.
- 15-18 months: Follows simple directions, knows a few words and uses them often, points to body parts when asked, uses 2-3 word sentences to talk about or ask for things.
- 18-24 months: Understands simple phrases and questions, enjoys being read to and points to things when asked.
- 24-26 months: Understands concepts such as not now and no more, chooses things by size, follows two-step commands, understands many action words such as run or jump.
There are other conditions that warrant taking your child to see an ENT specialist, and reasons for taking older children to a specialist, as you will read about below.
Pediatric Conditions an ENT Can Treat
While this by no means an exhaustive list, here are some of the more common reasons to take your child to see an ENT:
If your child has suffered more than four ear infections in the past year, it may be time to visit a specialist. Repeated ear infections may lead to hearing loss and speech delays and the surgical placement of ear tubes in order to reduce the risk of future infection, resolve hearing loss that is caused by the development of fluid in the middle ear, and improve speech difficulty and behavior or sleep problems caused by the repeated infections. An ENT can also treat eardrums that have ruptured due to infection, as well as ear infections that require multiple antibiotics or infections in children who are allergic to the antibiotics commonly used to treat them.
Sinus Infections or Tonsillitis
Other recurrent infections that may necessitate a trip to the ENT specialist's office include sinus infections or recurrent tonsillitis. Both of these illnesses may cause children to frequently miss school and could lead to potentially serious complications if not treated.
Snoring can disrupt the quality of a child's sleep, making it hard for them to focus in school or to function well during waking hours. Snoring may also be indicative of conditions such as enlarged tonsils or adenoids. Removal of the tonsils or adenoids may be required in order to relive symptoms such as snoring and frequent infections.
Nosebleeds are common in children who live in a dry climate, has allergies or a cold, or who pick their nose. If a child experiences nosebleeds that begin for no apparent reason or experiences a nosebleed that is difficult to stop, results in a significant loss of blood, or involves a foreign object in the child's nose, you may want to consult an ENT specialist.
Growths or Masses
Growths or masses in a child's neck are concerning, though not always a cause for alarm. Often, they are a sign of lymph nodes that are working overtime to fight off infection. However, if the mass in your child's neck is progressively growing, if it presents with skin discoloration, or the child was born with it, you should consult an ENT specialist to find out if it needs to be removed.
Contact CV/ENT Surgical Group
Children are often unable to tell you what they're feeling, sometimes making the diagnosis of conditions more complicated than it would be with an adult. Further, because children are actively growing and developing, conditions of the ear, nose, or throat may hamper that development and -- therefore -- need prompt diagnosis and treatment. If your child has one of the above-mentioned conditions or another cause of concern regarding to the ears, nose, and throat, C/V ENT Surgical Group is available to answer your questions.