Ear, nose and throat issues a common concern for parents

February 23, 2017

Melanie Raynor

Does my child need ear tubes? Are my child’s tonsils too big? Should I worry about a swollen lymph node? Is it normal for my child to snore? These are all questions that Dr. Ken Johnson, board-certified otolaryngologist at Wilson ENT & Sinus Center, hears frequently from concerned parents.

Kids can experience a variety of issues with their ear, nose and throat, which is why the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) established February as Kids ENT Health Month - a great time to shed some light on these concerns.

Last summer, I was one of those concerned parents asking Dr. Johnson whether my fourteen-month-old daughter Brooklynn should have ear tubes. We had been back and forth to the pediatrician over a period of six months with the same diagnosis – ear infection. According the AAO-HNS, ear infections are the primary reason that children see a doctor. I believe it! Luckily, my daughter, who is almost two years old now, has not had any issues with her ears since her surgery (knock on wood).

Aside from ear infections, there are several other pediatric issues that Dr. Johnson sees and treats on a regular basis - from tonsillitis and sleep apnea, to swollen lymph nodes and swimmer’s ear.

Dr. Johnson says that parents are often concerned that their child’s tonsils are too big; he mentions that unless there are frequent infections or the child has trouble breathing or swallowing, the size should not be alarming.

Another common condition in children is sleep apnea. Dr. Johnson recommends that if your child snores on a regular basis, gasps for air, makes a choking sound or tosses and turns while sleeping, or just has overall poor sleep quality, they should be evaluated for possible sleep apnea.

Swollen lymph nodes in the neck of the back of the head are another reason that children see an ENT doctor. These are usually a reaction to an infection and can normally resolve on their own. However, it’s still important to have them evaluated even if there’s a good chance the swelling will go away on its own.

During the summer months especially, swimmer’s ear is a common condition cause from an infection in the outer ear. It occurs when water gets trapped inside the ear, ultimately causing an infection. If your child is being treated for swimmer’s ear, Dr. Johnson says it’s important to clean out the ear before using the prescribed drops. 

Another scary reason that causes a child to see an ENT physician, is when a foreign object becomes stuck in a child’s nose or ear. Dr. Johnson recommends keeping an eye on toys with small parts and keeping coins or loose change away from small children. These are all choking hazards and are potentially dangerous if swallowed or lodged in a child’s nose or ear.

One final precaution and tip is to not use Q-tips or cotton swabs deep in the ear canals. This seems like a great way to clean out your ears, but it can cause problems. Fun fact: your ears clean themselves!

If your child is experiencing any issues with their ear, nose or throat, see a doctor to have them evaluated. Dr. Johnson and the staff at Wilson ENT & Sinus Center can help with these conditions. Their office is located at 1700 Tarboro Street, Suite 100, in Wilson. To schedule an appointment, please call 252-399-5300.

Melanie Raynor is the Marketing Coordinator at Wilson Medical Center.