As the end of August draws near, back-to-school shopping is in full swing. Every Target, Walmart, and Office Depot is flooded with 1000s of parents and children all looking for the exact same items on their school-approved shopping list. After fighting your way through the hordes of family units, checking out at the understaffed front register, and trying your best to keep the kids supplies separated you head to your primary care doctor to check Physical Examinations off the mental list. However, even with a thorough Physical, there are some things only you may be able to catch when it comes to your child's ear, nose, and throat health. Here are 3 things to be aware of before sending your child back to school:
1) Snoring is Abnormal
Snoring may seem cute and harmless, but in reality it could be a symptom of a larger health problem. Causes of snoring in children can include respiratory infections, a deviated septum or swelling in the nose, or enlarged tonsils and adenoids. The snoring may even indicate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Certain conditions, such as sleep apnea if left untreated in the long-term, can lead to a multitude of health issues including: problems with cognitive development, heart and lung problems, and even growth issues.
Here are some things to look out for while your child is asleep
- Snoring on a regular basis (3 or more nights a week)
- Interruptions while breathing (gasps, snorts, pauses)
- Heavy sweating
- Restless sleep or sleep in unusual positions; most notably positions where their head is tipped awkwardly back
Here are some things to look out for during the day
- Excessive sleepiness during the day
- Difficulty awakening in the mornings
- Falling asleep often during the day or habitually daydreaming
- Learning, behavioral, or social problems
- Speaking nasally and breathing primarily through the mouth
Persistent snoring may not be cause for immediate concern, but you should tell your child's pediatrician so they can decide whether or not you need to be referred to an ENT specialist.
2) Recurring Cold or Sinus Infection?
Kids get colds like it's their job. It's typical for children to end up sniffling and coughing every three to four weeks, especially if they attend a daycare or school. While a sinus infection and cold are similar in terms of symptoms, they are caused by two totally different things. Colds are viruses and not treatable with antibiotics. Sinusitis is in general caused by bacteria and needs to be treated with antibiotics when the infections don’t clear on their own. However, sinus infections do generally go away without the use of prescribed medications. Typically when the symptoms last for longer than a typical cold antibiotics are added. The decision to prescribe antibiotics should be carefully made by your primary care physician. Things like rest, drinking lots of fluids, and using saline spray can speed up the healing process. If your child is having recurring issues with sinus infections requiring antibiotics you should talk to your primary care physician about a referral to an ENT.
3) Ear Tubes Can Help for Recurring Ear Infections
Oftentimes children can develop problems with ear infections that keep coming. Ear tubes improve ventilation of the ear and equalize the pressure. They can also help with hearing if fluid in the ear has been a problem. Frequently, they also help to prevent future ear infections and can eliminate the need for additional rounds of antibiotics.
On average, ear tube surgery is the most common childhood surgery performed in the United States. Tiny cylinders are surgically placed into the eardrum, this allows air to flow easily in and out of the middle ear. If your child has had more than three ear infections in six months, suffers from hearing loss caused by fluid build-up in the middle ear, and/or has a collapsing ear drum you should ask your child's pediatrician if ear tubes are a possibility.
If you have any further questions or would like to schedule an appointment with one of our ENT Specialists, call 804.484.3700 today