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On the Coast Magazine

Ear, Nose and Throat Concerns?

02/29/2016 08:12AM ● Published by Nancy Babin

Most parents of young children are no strangers when it comes to a visit to the ENT (or Ear, Nose and Throat) doctor.  Children find themselves in all sorts of precarious situations, from M&Ms lodged in the nose to the dreaded double ear infection. It’s what makes a kid a kid, and it’s also why the ENT’s office is buzzing with young children.

White-Wilson Medical Center ENT specialist, Dr. William Gross, shares useful insights for parents regarding the common injuries, infections and disorders that he treats.

 “A child’s natural sense of curiosity is what often what lands him or her in the ENT’s office,” said Dr. Gross. “With children, it is not only fingers that go in noses and ears, but it can also be small toys, Legos, beads and even food.” 

These items can become lodged in a child’s small nose or ears requiring the assistance of a specialist. ENT physicians have special tools and techniques to safely remove the object and assess any damage that may have been caused. 

“When parents finds themselves in this situation, the most important thing to do is to stay calm and seek medical attention,” recommends Dr. Gross. “Trying to remove an object that is lodged in the nose or ears can cause further complications or permanent damage.” 

Ear infections are another frequent reason for a visit to an ENT’s office.  According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, five out of every six children will have at least one ear infection by their third birthday. For children who experience painful ear infections frequently, an ENT specialist can effectively treat and help prevent future infections. 

One treatment option for frequent ear infections is tympanostomy tubes, which help the ears to heal and prevent future infections.  The tubes are about 1/20 of an inch wide and are temporarily inserted in to the child’s developing eardrum via a simple, outpatient procedure. The tubes allow air to enter the middle ear and fluid to exit. According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, nearly one in 15 American children will undergo this procedure by the age of 3.

“Children with Down syndrome are particularly prone to ear, nose and throat conditions,” said Dr. Gross. “It is important that parents of children with Down syndrome visit an ENT specialist early in their child’s life to begin monitoring their development and to detect issues like, ear infections, sleep apnea and hearing loss.”

The National Down Syndrome Society estimates that up to 50 percent of infants with Down syndrome have stenotic ear canals. This means that the child’s ear canal is narrow and thus difficult to examine. The characteristics of Down syndrome also increase the risk for sleep-related disorders. These disorders are experienced by most children with Down syndrome and if untreated, can lead to complications such as hypertension and heart failure. A visit to an ENT specialist can help identify and treat sleep apnea and other sleep-related disorders. 

“ENT specialists care for a broad range of conditions from ear infections, to injuries and cancer treatment” said Dr. Gross. “As an ENT physician, my goal is to help you prevent disorders, treat injuries and maintain a good quality of life.”  

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