If you have children, you will probably know that ear, nose and throat (ENT) conditions are one of the most common reasons that babies, infants, and older children are brought to see a paediatrician. This is partly because little ones have tiny nose and ear passages that cause symptoms even when only partially blocked, but also because your child’s immune system is not fully mature. Many a parent will notice how the start of nursery school corresponds with the start of frequent colds and runny noses!
At The Kensington Kids Clinic, our children specialists, Dr Anne Buk-Serero, Dr Claudine De Munter and Dr Sophie Flammarion are highly experienced in paediatric care. They will put you and your child at ease and take the time needed to find the answers to your questions. Trust between a child and his or her doctor is just as important as it is for adult patients.
ENT problems in children: Ears
Children often complain of earache. While older children can tell you where the pain is, younger children may simply rub or pull at their ear, and seem unwell or irritable with a temperature.
Our paediatricians can gently examine your child’s ears and tell whether they have an infection of the ear canal (otitis externa) with pain and discharge, or an infection of the middle ear (otitis media) with pain or reduced hearing as a result of glue ear. Having made the diagnosis, they can suggest the best treatment, which may be ear drops, painkillers, or regular monitoring as the condition clears up on its own.
Glue Ear The middle ear normally contains air, but sometimes becomes filled with a thick glue-like secretion instead. This can cause earache, tinnitus (a ringing or buzzing noise), and reduced hearing.
Your child could have glue ear if they:
- are speaking more loudly or quietly than normal
- struggle to hear what you are saying
- keep asking you to repeat what they say
- want the TV or music turned up loudly
- are difficult to understand
If your child is having difficulty hearing because of glue ear, we offer a full hearing check with Consultant Audiologist Dr Alam Hussain. This is especially important if your child’s ear problems are affecting their ability to listen at school. If necessary, a temporary hearing aid will help until glue ear problems improve.
Although the vast majority of glue ear problems resolve with monitoring and treatment, your child might be referred to one of our consultant paediatric ENT surgeons for further investigation. They will advise whether your child’s glue ear needs to be treated by inserting grommets (small tubes placed across the eardrum to relieve pressure and fluid build-up in the middle ear).
ENT problems in children: Nose
A smaller nasal pathway in young children means they are more susceptible to blockages. Nasal obstruction or discomfort has many causes including dried mucus, enlarged adenoids, swollen tissue in the sides of the nose, a deviated septum, or (especially in younger children) foreign bodies being inserted into the nostril!
It’s fairly typical for your child to experience a runny nose, but not all runny noses are due to common cold viruses. Visiting your paediatrician will allow them to investigate and understand their nasal symptoms before suggesting the most appropriate treatment.
Rhinitis Rhinitis is an inflammation of the nose. The swelling of its delicate passages causes congestion, a runny nose, and sometimes pressure pain if the sinuses are also inflamed. If your child has persistent symptoms, they may well have an allergic rhinitis, due to any number of common allergies:
- pollen and/or spores
- household pets
- dust and/or dust mites
- certain foods
- the presence of mould
These allergies can also cause a build-up of secretions in the middle ear (glue ear) to affect hearing. An allergy test will determine the cause of the reaction.
Nose Bleeds Although they seem dramatic, a child’s nosebleed is often caused by something rather innocent. Rough and tumble play, a simple cold or sinus infection, and even a warm classroom can dehydrate and irritate the nose enough to make it bleed. And let’s not forget the chance that excessive picking or scratching of the nose may have exposed blood vessels and caused bleeding.
In the case of frequent nosebleeds, your paediatrician will advise whether there may be issues in relation to blood clotting or abnormal blood vessels and whether further testing or treatment is necessary.
ENT problems in children: Throat
A ‘sore throat’ is a common complaint with little ones and it can be difficult for a parent to judge how severe it might be. It is important to remember that antibiotic treatment is not always necessary. Often, a sore throat is caused by a virus and all that’s needed is some encouragement to drink fluids, and some tender loving care.
If you suspect something more serious, your first port of call is one of our paediatricians who, after careful examination, will suggest the best treatment depending on the degree to which the throat is inflamed or even infected. They might take a swab to check if your child has a bacterial infection (strep sore throat), which may need antibiotic treatment, and they will advise on the use of painkillers or other treatments to bring down any fever.
Rapid Diagnostic Testing for Strep A A rapid test for strep means you and your doctor will know within minutes if your child needs antibiotics. This helps your doctor choose the best treatment quickly as there’s no need to wait for the results to come back from a lab, which makes a big difference!
If flu is suspected, our paediatricians also use rapid influenza screening (CRP rapid test and flu rapid test).
Other throat problems Ranging from a recurrent cough, enlarged adenoids (glands at the base of the nose), or the less frequent voice disorders or lumps and bumps in the neck, your paediatrician will advise referral to an ENT specialist. They can liaise with one of our consultant paediatric ENT surgeons who will be able to advise whether more advanced treatment (such as removal of the tonsils or adenoids) is needed.
Treating ENT Problems in Children at The Kensington Kids Clinic, London
After initial assessment, our private pediatricians will often fully deal with your child’s ear nose and throat problems, otherwise they will refer your child to our consultant paediatric ENT surgeon for further advice and treatment. Whatever your concern is, find out how our private paediatricians can help you. Please use the links above or telephone 020 7244 4200 for a confidential chat.