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Staying ahead of an ENT problem: Keep an eye on children's ear, nose and throat issues

January 15, 2018
By Amanda Drumm - For Mirror Moms , Mirror Moms

The back of his throat was red and drinking a glass of water was painful and sore. Recurring ear infections caused his ears to throb and made it difficult for him to hear.

Christine Wentz of Altoona did not like to watch her 4-year-old son, Maverick, suffer from ongoing sore throats and ear infections. They were referred to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist in Altoona for advice on how to help Maverick.

The Wentzes visited ENT Associates of Central PA - a team of medical doctors who specialize in ENT disorders for children and adults. At their appointment they met with Dr. Kara Kimberly, an otolaryngologist.

Dr. Kimberly said pediatric patients routinely visit their office because of chronic ear infections, tonsil and adenoid problems and snoring and nasal obstruction. The group also commonly treats child patients for noisy breathing, nasal and sinus infections and neck masses.

Maverick had some of the same symptoms that many children with ENT problems have. His sore throats and continuing ear infections were frequent and painful and needed to be treated beyond standard antibiotics. Upon his evaluation, it was determined that he should have his tonsils and adenoids removed and tubes placed into both of his ears.

Christine was worried about Maverick undergoing the procedures, but it was more difficult to watch him continually suffer and try to cope with the aching and discomfort from his chronic ear infections and sore throats and his diminished hearing.

Fact Box

When to see an ENT specialist

It may be difficult for parents to decide when to see a specialist. If a child experiences any of the listed symptoms he should be evaluated immediately by an ENT doctor for diagnosis and treatment options:

Ear infections - Young children who get more than four to five ear infections in a year

Sore throats - Children who have six or more sore throats in a year

Chronic nasal congestion or chronic sinus infections

Snoring or nasal obstruction - Child snores loudly, wakes unrested, wets bed or is hyperactive

Noisy breathing - May be caused by a narrowed airway or partial blockage

Neck mass - Any unexplainable neck mass

"I was definitely scared, but Dr. Kimberly explained to us - word by word - everything about his procedure," she said.

The surgeries were performed together. Maverick's surgery and recovery were quick. He stayed overnight at the hospital after the procedure and adhered to the post-operation guidelines. He has been well since.

Christine is pleased with his outcome. "He did excellent and hasn't been sick since. There's a big difference in him. He cries less often and his speech has improved because there isn't any more fluid around his ears," she said.

Pediatric ear tube procedures are one of the most common in the United States, with 7 percent of children receiving these procedures by age 3.

"It's a quick procedure with impactful outcomes. It relieves the fluid in the ears and improves hearing loss," Dr. Kimberly said.

Tonsils and adenoids in children are often removed because of recurring sore throats, but also because of sleep apnea, snoring and upper airway obstruction. The surgery is common and has powerful results. Breathing improves after the surgery and many children are less likely to get sick.

If a parent has a concern about their child, Dr. Kimberly recommends seeing a specialist for an evaluation. Her office accepts referrals from other doctors and also takes patients who call their office directly for an appointment.

"We're always happy to help people feel better," she said.

Christine agrees that parents should be proactive and have their children seen sooner rather than later so their problems do not worsen. She said, "Don't fool around; make an appointment. Ear infections and sore throats aren't fun - they're a lot of pain for the kids to handle."



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