Ear, nose and throat disorders are very common when children are young. This could partly be due to the developing immune systems in children. Thus, ENT conditions remain one of the most common reasons why parents take their children to a paediatrician. However, a primary care physician may not always be able to solve all underlying ENT conditions. Often cases will be referred to an ENT doctor. Dr. Annabelle Leong is an experienced otolaryngologist with nearly two decades working with patients in Singapore. She is competent, qualified and friendly to deal with paediatric ENT disorders. Dr Annabelle treats adult ENT conditions too and thus, children will feel comfortable to meet a doctor whom their parents may visit, making the children less anxious and cooperative.
Below are some of the common conditions where children are taken for an ENT evaluation:
Respiratory tract infections are very common in children. Generally, they are due to viral infections such as a common cold. Sinusitis, a condition brought about by the inflammation of the sinuses, is very common in children. Thus, if a child has symptoms which lasts longer than 10 days, then the child has an acute sinusitis condition. Young children who are in the first few years of their life are more prone to sinusitis and this condition is exacerbated during an allergy. The commonly observed symptoms are irritability and fever, snoring, nasal speech, bad breath and cough. The complications which can be observed with acute sinusitis is the development of chronic sinusitis where the symptoms last much longer. It could even develop into an infection spreading around the eye or rarely even to the brain. A competent ENT doctor can help your child relieve the symptoms of sinusitis.
An ear infection occurs when bacteria or viruses enter the middle ear, which is the space behind the eardrum. When a child has a middle ear infection then the middle ear fills with pus. When this pus pushes on the eardrum, it can be painful. The main sign of an ear infection is ear pain. In addition, children may also present with fever, uneasiness, ear pulling and trouble sleeping. If the fluid build-up gets high, then it can rupture the eardrum causing dizziness. Ear infections are very common in children since their Eustachian tubes are narrow. These tubes let the mucous to drain from the middle ear to the throat. Respiratory tract infections, allergies and acid reflux can cause inflammation in these Eustachian tubes. It is important to have a timely evaluation by an ENT doctor, as prolonged ear infections can lead to loss of hearing.
A child’s snoring may seem innocent, but deep and heavy snoring is not normal at all. It could be due to sleep apnea. This is when a child’s breathing is partially or completely blocked repeatedly during sleep and it could be due to narrowing of the upper airway while sleeping. It is very important to have an early diagnosis and treatment for sleep apnea, or else complications can affect the growth and development of the child. Some of the common signs include restlessness, mouth breathing, bed-wetting, night sweating. Behavioural problems may also be observed like poor attention and poor performance in school.
Tonsillitis: Tonsillitis is very common in children and it is usually caused by a viral infection, but at times it may also be due to a bacterial infection. Some of the signs and symptoms which are present are headaches, cough, ear pain as well as hoarseness and a fever. An ENT doctor can help to manage the symptoms of tonsillitis, by using pain killers and sprays to manage the sore throat. It is quite common for tonsillitis to recur in children and it can severely affect the quality of life with missed school days. If the tonsillitis recurrence is high, then the best course of treatment is the surgical removal of tonsils or tonsillectomy.
Rhinitis: Rhinitis is a condition that occurs when the lining of the nose becomes inflamed. It affects the eyes, nose and throat and occurs when allergens in the air trigger the release of histamines and other chemicals in the body. Rhinitis causes a runny and blocked nose. In children it is quite common to have difficulty in smelling and having a persistent cough. Generally, rhinitis is caused by an allergic reaction, but the ENT doctor would check to see if this is the real reason. Allergic rhinitis can occur on a seasonal basis or all year round and maybe triggered due to a food allergy, pollen or animal fur. Children with eczema and asthma are at a higher risk of acquiring allergic rhinitis. The treatment for rhinitis varies on the severity and frequency of the rhinitis episodes and the ENT doctor will choose a treatment modality which best suits your child.
Adenoiditis: The adenoids help to filter germs from the body. At times the adenoids can get overwhelmed by bacteria and get infected. This can cause the adenoids to become swollen and this condition is called adenoiditis. It is generally seen in children rather than in adults. The symptoms which are present are sore throat, stuffy nose, ear pain and swollen glands in the neck. When there is a stuffy nose, then the children find it difficult to breathe. Thus, related symptoms to adenoiditis lead to nasal congestion. Apart from the tonsils, the adenoids can also get infected which happens due to recurring respiratory infections.
Tongue Tie: This is a minor defect in the mouth, which decreases the mobility of the tongue. It is congenital and if the child has a tight frenulum then feeding is affected. In such a case, immediate treatment is needed. If there is a partial condition, it is important to have it corrected too as it could lead to a speech delay. The ENT specialist will perform a surgical procedure to separate the band of tissue quickly and painlessly in a procedure known as Frenuloplasty.