Child in stress

From ear infections to swollen tonsils and nosebleeds, ear, nose, and throat issues are common in kids. Yet, a minor issue can signal a more complicated problem. When a child’s ear, nose, or throat ailments persist after treatment — or keep returning — it’s time to see a pediatric ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor.

Also called pediatric otolaryngologists, these ENT doctors are specialists in treating children for a wide range of problems — from sinus infections to hearing problems to larynx (or voice box) issues.

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Why You Should Choose a Pediatric ENT Doctor

It’s important for your child to see a pediatric ENT doctor. That’s because pediatric ENT doctors specialize in the specific issues that occur in children.

They also understand how a child’s growth and development affect ear, nose, and throat conditions. Pediatric ENT doctors ensure that the treatment plan is best suited to your child’s developmental stage and size.

Common Reasons to See a Pediatric ENT Doctor

Here are some common reasons to see a pediatric ENT doctor:

Ear infections

Your child’s pediatrician can treat a one-time ear infection. But if your child has persistent or frequent ear infections, you’re likely dealing with a more complex problem.

If your child has more than four ear infections per year, consult a pediatric ENT doctor to look into an underlying cause. If your child’s ear infection doesn’t go away with antibiotics, a pediatric ENT doctor can investigate.

These specialists also can make sure an infection hasn’t led to complications, like a ruptured eardrum. They can do advanced tests with equipment that isn’t available to most general practitioners.

Depending on the cause of your child’s ear problem, an ENT doctor may recommend a different medicine — or possibly surgery. Surgery often involves placing tubes in the ear to allow fluid to drain properly. Because pediatric surgery is often more complex than adult surgery, we recommend you choose a center that specializes in pediatric ENT surgeries.

Chronic sinusitis

Sinusitis causes a runny nose, usually with a thick greenish-yellow discharge. It typically lasts for at least three days. Cold symptoms that last longer than a week, swelling around the eyes, and mucus in the throat are other signs.

While acute sinusitis is a normal problem that your pediatrician or family doctor can treat, chronic sinusitis requires the care of a pediatric ENT doctor. That’s because chronic sinusitis requires advanced diagnostics and treatment.

A child who has four or more sinus infections in a year may have chronic sinusitis. A child who has a sinus infection that lasts 12 weeks or longer also may have chronic sinusitis. It’s vital to address chronic sinusitis, as it can impact a child’s schooling and daily activities.

A pediatric ENT doctor can determine if your child’s sinusitis is acute or chronic. The good news is that minor procedures or same-day surgeries can resolve chronic sinusitis.

Frequent nosebleeds

Having an occasional nosebleed is normal, but frequent or heavy nosebleeds can be cause for concern. If your child’s nosebleeds are interfering with day-to-day life, a pediatric ENT doctor can examine the inside of the nose to determine the cause. The specialist may recommend nasal sprays or other measures to prevent nosebleeds.

Snoring

A child who snores at night may not be breathing properly, which can impact sleep quality. That can affect learning and energy levels during the day. It can even affect growth, as children produce growth hormone when they’re asleep.

If your child is a frequent snorer, it’s a good idea to schedule a visit with a pediatric ENT doctor.

Enlarged tonsils or adenoids are the most common culprit for snoring in children. Allergies or abnormal structural issues in the nose can also contribute to snoring.

ENT doctors have tools to examine the internal structures of the nose and throat to determine the cause of snoring. Pediatric ENT doctors use specialized equipment designed for children’s smaller airways.

Your pediatric ENT specialist can recommend both surgical and nonsurgical options to help your child sleep better. Removing the tonsils and/or adenoids is a safe and routine surgical option. A pediatric ENT doctor will only recommend surgery when less invasive options aren’t available.

Why Choose UPMC Children’s for Pediatric Ear, Nose, and Throat Care

UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh offers a team of committed doctors who specialize in the care of children. Our pediatric ENT doctors work together to ensure your child receives the safest, most up-to-date, and effective treatment. They also work with pediatric anesthesiologists, radiologists, and others who are experts at treating children.

With experience in both common and rare ENT conditions in kids, our team will get to the bottom of your child’s issue. Our pediatric ENT surgeons perform ear tube placement, tonsillectomies, and sinus surgeries.

Our surgeons also have expertise in special procedures that aren’t always available in other hospitals. These procedures include laryngotracheal reconstruction, cochlear implants, and congenital ear reconstruction. Our dedicated team will follow up with your child for months or years, depending on the procedure.

Sources

American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery Foundation. Pediatric Sinusitis. Link

American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery Foundation. Sleep-Disordered Breathing. Link

Dr. Amanda Batisti et al. Chronic Sinusitis. StatPearls. Link

Healthy Children (American Academy of Pediatrics). The Difference Between Sinusitis and a Cold. Link

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Ear Infections in Children. Link

Medical News Today. When to see a doctor if your child has a nosebleed. Link

About Pediatrics

From nutrition to illnesses, from athletics to school, children will face many challenges growing up. Parents often will make important health care decisions for them. We hope to help guide both of you in that journey. UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh ranks consistently on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals Honor Roll. UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital is a longtime national leader for women and their newborns. We aim to provide the best care for your children, from birth to adulthood and beyond.