What You Need to Know About Kids ENT

Not sure if you need a visit with a pediatric ENT for your son or daughter? We’re going back to the basics with information on otolaryngology and the most common reasons children require a visit to the ENT.

ENT Terms & Definitions

ENTs are referred to by a variety of names and terms. The first is “Oto-HNS.” Oto stands for otolaryngology or the study of the ears and throat while HNS represents “head and neck surgery.”

The more common acronym is ENT, which stands for ears, nose and throat.

Pediatric otolaryngology is one of the seven standard areas of expertise in the otolaryngology field. Pediatric ENTs are more equipped to deal with birth defects of the head and neck, developmental delays and other common ears, nose and throat afflictions[1] in children.

Ear Infections Facts & Figures

Ear infections, also referred to as otitis media, are the number one reason children visit an ENT. By age five, nearly every child has experienced at least one ear infection episode.

Ear infections are caused by excess fluid in the middle ear and symptoms include ear pain, pulling at the ear, difficulty hearing, fever, increased crying or irritability, headache and loss of appetite[2].

Treatment often includes antibiotics, but chronic ear infections could require ear tubes.

Ear tubes or pressure equalization (PE) tubes, are small cylindrical tubes that help to relieve the chronic presence of fluid by allowing air flow into the middle ear. The process of inserting ear tubes into the ear canal is called a “myringotomy.”

Tonsillitis Need-to-Knows

Another chronic illness warranting an ENT visit is tonsillitis. More common in older adolescents and teens, tonsillitis is inflammation of the tonsils due to a virus or bacterial infection.

Trouble swallowing and sore throat are typical key indicators of the presence of tonsillitis. If typical medical treatments are not effective, a tonsillectomy may be required.

Chronic, untreated tonsillitis could result in airway obstructions that lead to sleep apnea. In addition, the effects of sleep apnea can be misdiagnosed as Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD.

Tonsillectomy procedures have declined since the 1970’s, but are still necessary under some circumstances. Today, 80% of tonsillectomies are performed due to obstructive sleep issues and only 20% due to chronic infections[3].

Tonsillectomies are typically out-patient procedures and recovery can take up to two weeks, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology.

For more information about tonsillitis and other pediatric ENT issues, view our video resources below.

View Video

Other Reasons to Visit a Pediatric ENT

Although pediatric otolaryngologists can address any concern related to the ears, nose or throat, other common issues they treat include sinus infections, ear wax buildup and hearing loss.

Of the three, hearing loss is the most serious. Hearing loss can affect your child’s cognitive abilities, including speech and language development. If you think your child is at risk, Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) is imperative.

Check out last month’s blog for more information about childhood hearing loss.

Next Steps

If you think your child could be suffering from an ear, nose or throat-related issue, click here to request an appointment.

For more information on pediatric ENT, consult our Pediatric Resources or Educational Videos.

Stay Tuned

Visit the blog next month for PENTA’s take on sinusitis, or sinus infections, and how to treat them.



[1] http://www.entnet.org/content/what-otolaryngologist

[2] http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ear-infections/symptoms-causes/dxc-20199484

[3] http://www.entnet.org/content/tonsillectomy-facts-us-ent-doctors