Whether it’s during their daycare sessions or in the middle of an out-of-town family vacation, children are always exposed to various factors that put them at risk of contracting various Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) problems. However, the good news is that as a parent, you can help your kids steer clear of the possible pain and discomfort caused by these by keeping them healthy and knowing useful remedies to help catch the condition in its earlier stages.
Premier health institution Makati Medical Center provides a brief overview on some common EENT problems in children—from signs and symptoms, to diagnosis and treatment.
Conjunctivitis, or “sore eyes,” is one of the common eye problems contracted by young children. According to Dr. Alvin Santos of MakatiMed’s Ophthalmology Department, the condition is characterized by the inflammation of the conjunctiva, the clear membrane that blankets the white part of your eye and the under surface of your eyelids.
He further elaborates that sore eyes are caused by viruses that also cause colds, or even by an allergy harbored by the child. “Many external irritants can cause the development of red eyes, so the symptoms can differ from child to child.” However, he notes that common telltale signs include eye discomfort (“Your child may feel that there is something that resembles sand inside his or her eye”) and redness of the eye and inner eyelid.
Sore eyes can be self limiting (no medication needed) but Dr. Santos recommends preventive measures to avoid contracting the condition altogether. “It is best to teach your kids to wash their hands regularly with soap and warm water, as well as avoid sharing personal items such as towels and pillowcases with other kids. These are effective measures that lower their chances of getting sore eyes.”
The more common ENT problems experienced by children include the dreaded ear infections which may be external such as swimmers ear, or middle ear infections from colds. Commonly used home remedies for external ear infections include the use of vinegar used as ear drops. Furthermore, middle ear infections are more common in children because of the shorter distances between their middle ear chambers and their nasal cavity. Physician/ENT consult is important before complications set in.
These infections are characterized by the presence of fluid in the child’s ear, which may turn to pus. “The fluid is normally accompanied by pain, redness of the eardrum and fever,” Dr. Ricardo Fernandez, chair of MakatiMed’s ENT Department shares. “Typically, your child may complain of an earache or just be abnormally irritable and have trouble sleeping.”
He stresses that the best plan of action would be to consult the doctor for medical advice to avoid dreaded complications such as ruptured ear drums and bone infection. “With the right antibiotics, your child should be able to feel relief from pain in due time.”
When it comes to children, nosebleeds are common occurrences. “Nosebleeds happen when any one of the small veins found in this body part’s lining suddenly bursts,” Dr. Fernandez reveals. “And sometimes with kids, this happens when they pick their nose too roughly, blow them too hard or even play in the sun too much.”
The first thing to do, he says, when a child suddenly experiences a nosebleed, would be to calm the child down. “Children tend to get scared at the sight of blood, because it makes the entire thing look worse than it really is. Have the child sit down and hold their nostrils using your fingers—if you have a handkerchief handy, that would be better. Then pinch the soft part of the nose with your thumb and forefinger, and hold that position for about 10 minutes. The bleeding should stop then—but if it doesn’t, you can repeat the process, or call the doctor. You can also apply cold compress over the nasal area to constrict the blood vessels.”
Tonsillitis is one of the major ENT problems in children that need immediate care and treatment as tonsils (the body part—comprised of lumps of tissue found in both sides of the back of the throat—affected by the condition) are part of the immune system. Tonsils are responsible for fighting germs that may cause infections in the throat, nose and sinuses.
According to Dr. Fernandez, viral types of tonsillitis may be contagious and can be spread through sneezing, touching or even coughing. “It’s important to be aware of the different symptoms of tonsillitis in children,” he warns. “Take a look at your child’s tonsils—if he or she has tonsillitis, these will be raw, red or swollen or have gray-white or yellowish coating and patches on them.”
If left untreated, he says, tonsillitis can lead to other conditions, such as fever, headache, earache, and even abdominal pain. “Once your child complains of pain while swallowing and difficulty eating, check for signs of tonsillitis right away,” he advises. “Early detection allows you to consult the doctor earlier and put your child on prescribed medications that will help relieve the pain caused by the condition.”
By becoming aware of common ENT problems in children, says Dr. Fernandez, parents will be better-equipped to handle sudden infections or complaints of pain or discomfort. “Knowing how to identify different ENT problems enables you, as a parent, to handle the situation better and help ease the pain for your child at an earlier time. It also helps prevent more serious illnesses from developing, which can happen if the condition is left undiagnosed or untreated for a prolonged period of time.”