Pediatric Ear, Nose, and Throat Care
Pediatric ENT in Austin, TX
At ENT & Allergy Center of Austin, we have a special interest in treating childhood and pediatric ear, nose, and throat illnesses. Common and not-so-common childhood ENT issues like ear infections, hearing loss, throat and tonsil infections are treated in a compassionate yet up-to-date fashion to ensure your child remains happy and healthy.
Children are especially prone to recurring ear infections and fluid build-up in the ear. That’s because the eustachian tubes – the canals responsible for draining fluid from each middle ear to the upper throat – are not yet fully developed and lay more horizontally than they do in adult ears. This prevents drainage and allows bacteria and viruses to more easily travel to the middle ear.
Ear infections are so common during childhood, it is expected that 5 out of 6 children will have at least one by the age of 3.
Symptoms of an ear infection may include an earache (or ear-pulling in very young children), fever, and difficulty hearing. Treatment typically involves antibiotics, as well as pain relievers or eardrops.
For chronic ear infections, a quick outpatient surgical procedure called a myringotomy may be recommended to insert tubes in the eardrum to help prevent fluid buildup. The tubes typically stay in place for a year, after which time they naturally fall out on their own.
When a hole is made in the eardrum – the thin membrane tissue separating the external and middle ear – it is said to be perforated or ruptured.
Eardrum perforation can occur due to:
- Foreign objects inserted into the ear canal
- Trauma to the head or ear
- Loud noises or sudden, significant changes in air pressure
A perforated eardrum may heal on its own in a few weeks, but in some cases may require one of these surgeries to patch it:
- Myringoplasty – Material (such as a special type of paper, gel foam, or fat from the ear lobe) is used to temporarily plug relatively small holes until the body’s natural healing process can occur. The surgery itself is quick, taking just 15 minutes or so.
- Tympanoplasty – A graft of tissue taken from behind the ear is used to repair the hole and a patch is placed over the area from behind the eardrum to secure and protect it while healing occurs. Because this procedure is more complex than a myringoplasty, it can take a couple hours to complete.
Most often, head and neck tumors in children are benign, or noncancerous, such as cysts or vascular abnormalities. They typically occur due to infection or inflammation. But even malignant, or cancerous, tumors in the region are often treatable.
Even so, any swelling or enlargement, especially if it appears on just one side of the neck, for example, should be examined by an ear, nose, and throat doctor.
There are many different reasons for nasal symptoms such as a stuffy or runny nose. When these symptoms recur often, or are present to some extent seemingly all the time, it may indicate:
In-office imaging and other diagnostic tools allow the specialists at ENT & Allergy Center of Austin to correctly identify the cause of your child’s nasal symptoms.
However, sinusitis in children can be difficult to diagnose; it often appears as a long-lasting cold, with coughing, sore throat, yellow-green mucus coming from the nose, and fatigue. If your child experiences these common symptoms for more than 10 days, it could be a sinus infection.
In cases of acute sinusitis, antibiotic therapy may be used, along with nasal sprays or drops.
If your child experiences sinusitis 4 – 6 times a year, it is considered chronic, and an endoscopic sinus surgery may be recommended to remove any nasal blockages or enlarge a narrow sinus opening.
This is a congenital condition in which the tongue’s range of motion is restricted due to shorter-than-normal tissue that anchors the tip of the tongue to the bottom of the mouth. Babies born with ankyloglossia may have difficulty breastfeeding, and it can affect a child’s oral development, as well.
The inability to stick out the tongue, or a tongue that appears to have a notch in the center when stuck out, may indicate tongue-tie. It is a common condition that usually doesn’t require treatment as the lingual frenulum tissue may loosen over time or may not cause any problems at all.
Enlarged tonsils and adenoids are practically a rite of passage for children.
They occur due to infections at the back of the throat (where the tonsils are) or back of the nose (where the adenoids are located).
When the tonsils or adenoids become enlarged, they can obstruct the airway and/or become chronically infected. They can disrupt sleep and cause snoring, nasal congestion, difficulty swallowing and breathing through the nose, a sore throat, and ear problems.
Your ENT doctor may recommend a surgical procedure to remove the tonsils (tonsillectomy) and adenoids (adenoidectomy).