5 Common Ear, Nose, And Throat (ENT) Issues In Children

July 31, 2023

ENT issues

Ear, nose, and throat (ENT) problems are common in children. So much so that some may even consider them a part of childhood! These issues can range from minor annoyances to more serious conditions that require medical attention. And although common, some of these issues can cause severe pain and discomfort in your little one. Knowing the common ENT issues your child may suffer from is the first step in getting the care and medical attention they need. 

ENT Issues In Children

Did you know that a child’s sinus does not fully develop until they reach the age of 7? This often explains why children experience so many ear, nose, and throat complications. However, this may leave you wondering what can be treated at home and what requires medical attention. Holly Springs Pediatrics is here to explain five common ENT issues in children, the symptoms, and routine treatments. 

1. Ear Infections

Ear infections are one of the most common ENT issues in children. In fact, the NIH suggests that five out of six children will have at least one ear infection by their third birthday. They occur when bacteria or viruses cause inflammation in the middle ear. Ear infections can be incredibly bothersome and cause severe pain in children. Some of the most common symptoms of an ear infection include:

  • Ear pain
  • Fever
  • Difficulty hearing
  • Fluid draining from the ear

Treatment for an ear infection may include antibiotics, pain relievers, and/or ear drops. It’s important to see a doctor if your child is experiencing ear pain or if you suspect they have an ear infection.

2. Tonsillitis

Tonsillitis is an inflammation of the tonsils, which are located in the back of the throat. It can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection such as adenovirus, the flu, or the Epstein-Barr virus (mono). Symptoms of tonsillitis may include:

  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Fever
  • Swollen tonsils

Treatment for tonsillitis may include antibiotics, pain relievers, and/or tonsillectomy (removal of the tonsils). It is important to note that tonsillitis is contagious, and talking, coughing, and sneezing can pass the illness from one person to another. If you suspect your child is suffering from this ENT issue, it is important to keep them home from school and seek medical attention from their healthcare provider. 

3. Sinusitis

Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses, which are air-filled spaces in the skull. There are three types of sinusitis:

  • Short-term (acute): Symptoms last less than 12 weeks, and symptoms get better with the correct treatment.
  • Long-term (chronic): Symptoms last longer than 12 weeks
  • Recurrent: When the infection comes back 3 or more times in a year 

Symptoms of sinusitis may include:

  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Postnasal drip
  • Fever

Treatment for sinusitis depends on which type of sinusitis your child suffers from. Acute sinusitis can be treated with antibiotics or allergy medications. Treatment for chronic sinusitis may include an ENT specialist visit, nasal drops with steroids, allergy shorts, or in severe cases, surgery. 

4. Allergies

Allergies are a common cause of ENT issues in children. They occur when the immune system reacts to a harmless substance (like pollen or pet dander) as if it were a threat. Symptoms of allergies may include:

  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing or postnasal drip
  • Itchy, watery, or red eyes
  • Rash

The most common allergy triggers in children include tree pollen, plant pollen, insect bites, animal fur, dust mites, or other irritants such as cigarette smoke or car exhaust. Treatment for allergies may include antihistamines, decongestants, and/or allergy shots.

5. Croup

Hearing your child with croup cough is enough to break your heart. Croup is a viral infection that affects the upper airway, including the larynx (voice box) and trachea (windpipe). It can cause symptoms such as:

  • Hoarse voice
  • Barky cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever

Treatment for croup varies but may include inhaled medications, injected medications, oral medications, or using a humidifier.

Although ENT issues are common in children, it’s important to recognize the symptoms of these issues and seek medical attention if necessary. A visit to your pediatrician can help to diagnose and treat the most common ENT issues in children. In some cases, your pediatrician may refer your child to an ENT specialist. Do you think your child could be displaying symptoms of an ENT condition? Request an appointment through our website or give us a call at (919) 249-4700.