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When should your child see an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist?

February is Kids ENT Health Month

If your child is experiencing issues with their ears, sinuses, nose, mouth, throat or neck, they may need to consult with an ENT, or Ear, Nose and Threat specialist. Dr. Peter Casano is just one of the skilled ENT specialists at Memorial Health System. He answers questions about common issues he sees in pediatric patients.

What are the most common issues you treat in children?

The most common issues that ENT doctors take care of for children would be recurring ear infections, recurrent tonsil infections, and chronic sinusitis. Chronic sinusitis in children can be hard to appreciate because children so often also have frequent colds that can be mistaken for sinus infections. 

What are the most popular times of the year for children to battle these issues?

Statistically children, but for that matter adults too, have more upper respiratory infections in the late fall and winter. Upper respiratory infections are most often caused by viruses, but the inflammation, secretions, and swelling that they create can allow bacteria to gain a foothold and lead to bacterial ear infections and bacterial sinus infections.

When should someone consider bringing their child to an ENT specialist?

Your pediatrician is the expert when it comes to addressing most of these problems initially. When ear, nose and throat problems become recurring or severe, it may be time to see an ENT doctor. ENT doctors can help decide if minor surgeries might be helpful, such as ear tubes or tonsillectomy. In the evaluation and treatment of chronic nasal congestion, they can help you determine if the problem is allergies, infections, or anatomic issues that might need more involved workups or treatment.

What do you wish more people knew about your specialty?

I think many people think of ENT doctors as those who take out tonsils and put in ear tubes, and while that is true, we also have experience with the medical evaluation and treatment of pediatric patients who have stubborn medical problems that are best treated medically. One common intervention that ENT doctors do is obtaining bacterial cultures from the sinuses to help evaluate and treat chronic or recurrent nasal congestion. Distinguishing between frequent colds, allergic rhinitis and bacterial sinus infections can be challenging, but obtaining the correct diagnosis and treatment is critical when ENT problems become frequent and difficult to treat.

How have you helped a child’s quality of life?

A recent child who never had more than a week or so without constant nasal discharge had been appropriately treated for allergies. Allergies are extremely common so this is a very reasonable first step. The child did not respond well to the chosen medications for allergy. We obtained cultures of the nasal discharge and identified a resistant type of bacteria. Once that was treated with carefully chosen medications, the nasal discharge finally cleared up, and now she is off of her allergy medications and has a clear nasal airway.  Dr. Peter Casano is an ENT specialist at Memorial located in Gulfport. His practice concentrates on sinus and nasal problems, but he accepts children and adults with all general ENT problems. To learn more or schedule an appointment with a Memorial ENT, click here.  

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