Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Physicians treat a variety of common ENT problems in both adults and children, ranging from chronic sleep disturbances to cleft palate and cleft lip surgeries. Ear trouble, whether genetic or acquired via bacterial or viral infection, vocal cord paralysis, sinus infections, and even repair of facial and neck damage due to an accident all fall under the rubric of an ENT physician. Some of the most common ENT problems in children include:
- Breathing Difficulties.Snoring is not just a problem in adults: approximately one in ten children will snore nightly. However, breathing difficulties and snoring are not necessarily indications of a problem — only three in 100 children who snore have sleep disordered breathing.
Upper airway blockage during sleep can effect concentration, cause weight problems, and may contribute to hypertension and oxygen deprivation in the long term.
- Ear Infections.Nine out of ten toddlers will experience an ear infection; ear infections can be viral or bacterial and are caused by a buildup of fluid on the inside of the ear. Chronic ear problems can require surgery if left untreated — sometimes frequent ear infections can indicate congenital abnormalities of the ear.
Ear infections can cause stomach problems, problems sleeping, and a reluctance to eat. If a toddler or baby is pulling at his ear suddenly, it may indicate that an infection is present.
- Hearing Loss.Many factors can contribute to hearing loss in children: an infection acquired in utero, birth complications, and other viral or bacterial influences can cause a loss of function after birth. However, the leading cause is actually genetic — over half of all cases of hearing loss can be attributed to genes inherited from either mother or father. Surgeries to address hearing loss may include activating a cochlear implant, an electronic device that can help people with hearing loss process ambient sounds such as speech and background noise.