Why does my child experience frequent ear infections?
Ear infections occur when there is a blockage in or around the Eustachian tube (ET), which causes fluid to build up in the middle ear and become infected. Children are prone to ear infections due to the size and shape of the Eustachian tube (which is still developing until the age of 5), presence of adenoid tissue in the back of the nose (which is helping their immune systems and can block the ET when swollen), and their frequent exposure to viruses and germs in daycare and school settings.
How can I treat my child’s ear infection?
If your child is experiencing symptoms of an ear infection, see a doctor to determine the cause. Antibiotics are necessary for bacterial infections. If the cause is viral, you can ease the pain by applying a warm washcloth to the affected ear and using over-the-counter Tylenol and ibuprofen for pain. Only a physician can determine if your child should be given antibiotics. Do not give your child aspirin, as this has been linked to Reye’s syndrome in children. Depending on the age of the child, symptoms of an ear infection can include pain worse when lying down, discharge from the affected ear, difficulty hearing, trouble sleeping, headache, fever, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea and a lack of appetite.
My child’s doctor is recommending ear tubes. What are these and why are they necessary?
Children who experience frequent ear infections may be candidates for ear tubes. These are hollow tubes that are placed in the eardrum surgically to ventilate and drain the built-up fluid. In most cases, this prevents infections from occurring and eliminates the danger of permanent hearing loss from repeat episodes. In some cases, tubes are also recommended for chronic fluid buildup in the ears that does not become infected, but rather, blocks normal hearing and has a negative effect on language development.
My child’s tonsils are red, swollen and have grayish patches. Is this serious?
Your child could be suffering from a tonsil infection, a common disease that occurs when a virus or bacteria invades the tonsils. It can be caused by a number of factors, including colds, influenza and bacteria. Most tonsil infections are not serious and clear up on their own. However, when they are associated with strep throat, that type of bacterial infection must be treated with antibiotics. Occasionally, surgery to remove the tonsils is recommended, but this is reserved for severe or recurrent cases.
My child has a cold that won’t go away. What can I do about this?
If your child is experiencing cold-like symptoms that last longer than 10 to 14 days or recur frequently, he or she may be suffering from a chronic sinus infection known as sinusitis. This is a common condition that affects millions of Americans every year. Our ENT physicians can complete tests to verify that allergies or other diseases aren’t to blame and will prescribe a treatment plan that may include antihistamines, saline drops, nasal sprays, antibiotics or sinus procedures to help the sinuses drain and overcome the infection.
My child snores loudly every night. Should I be concerned?
Approximately 10 percent of children snore regularly. This occurs when excess throat tissue blocks the airways. It’s not always a serious condition, but if your child snores loudly – especially if the snoring is accompanied by gasping, choking or thrashing in bed – then you should schedule an appointment with an ENT specialist. It could be the sign of obstructive sleep apnea, a condition that is marked by gaps in breathing and can lead to serious developmental and health issues.
Call DeFatta ENT & Allergy at (715) 828-2368 for more information or to schedule an appointment.