Physicians at Sound Health Services, P.C. treat the spectrum of common pediatric ENT problems, including Tonsillitis and Adenoiditis, Chronic Ear Problems, Congenital Abnormalities of the Ear, Hearing Loss, Otitis Media and Otitis Externa (Swimmer’s Ear) as well as other disorders such as neck lumps and masses, nasal deformities and obstructions.
Tonsils and Tonsillitis
The tonsils are located in the back of the throat. Although the tonsils have a role in helping treat infection, the tonsils can become part of the infection as well. When this happens, removal of the tonsils will improve your child’s health. Removal of the tonsils has not led to an increase in infections because there are hundreds of other lymph nodes in the head and neck that perform the same function.
Tonsillitis is an infection of the tonsils. This infection usually involves the back of the throat as well, and is uncommon in children less than one year old. It is seen most frequently in children four to seven years of age, and continues less frequently throughout late childhood and adult life. In most cases, viruses are the most common cause of tonsillitis. The second most common cause is a bacteria known as Streptococcus, otherwise known as “strep throat”.
Tonsillitis usually results in a sore throat and difficulty swallowing. The throat visibly looks inflamed. Fever, headache, earache, and enlarged and tender glands in the neck may also be experienced.
Viral tonsillitis is primarily treated with bed rest, Tylenol for fever and pain relief, and lots of fluids. Antibiotics do not help treat this type of infection. Streptococcal tonsillitis does require the use of antibiotics, primarily to help get rid of the infection quickly and prevent complications.
The tonsils can become so enlarged (tonsillar hypertrophy) that your child may have difficulty breathing or difficulty swallowing. You should call your physician if your child is experiencing any of these symptoms.
There are several of tonsil tissues located in the back of the throat. The tissue referred to as the “tonsils” is located on either side of the back of the mouth. The second area of tonsil tissue is located behind the nose, and is called the adenoid.
Adenoids and Adenoiditis
The adenoid is a lump of tissue at the back of the nose above the tonsils. In order to see them, your physician can look through your mouth and view the back of your nose using a mirror. The adenoid is basically a lymph node. A lymph node contains lymphocytes, which are cells that help to fight infection. The adenoid is a part of a group of lymph nodes that include the tonsils, found around the back of the throat. Together, they act to help process infections in the nose and throat.
Unfortunately, sometimes the adenoid tissue gets infected and the infection can last for weeks or months. This is called adenoiditis. If your child has adenoiditis, he or she may have a runny or stuffy nose, post-nasal drip, headache or cough. Usually adenoiditis is treated with antibiotics taken by mouth. If antibiotics fail to get rid of the infection, the adenoid tissue may have to be removed.
In most children, the adenoid enlarges normally during early childhood, when infections of the nose and throat are most common. They usually shrink as the child gets older and disappear by puberty. However, in some children, the adenoid continues to become larger and block the passage behind the nose. This can result in snoring, breathing through the mouth, and/or a hyponasal sound to the speech. Additionally, this can result in otitis media (middle ear infections) because of blockage of the eustachian tube (the tube that connects the ear to the throat).
Ear Infections – Otitis Externa and Otitis Media
Otitis refers to an infection of the ear. There are two types: Otitis externa (outer ear infection) and otitis media (middle ear infection).
Otitis Externa is an infection in the outer ear canal. Another name for this infection is “swimmer’s ear” as this infection can be associated with exposure to water. The symptoms include redness and swelling of the skin in the ear canal, significant pain of the ear canal, and drainage. Treatment for this infection includes antibiotic or antifungal eardrops and possibly oral antibiotics.
Otitis Media is also known as a middle ear infection (an infection in the space behind the ear drum). For children, otitis media is one of the most common infections. More than 90% of all children will have at least one infection by age 2. Forms include recurrent acute infections and long-lasting chronic infections, both of which are treatable.
Ear infections can be caused by bacteria or viruses. Risk factors include day care and smoking in the home. Allergies may contribute to ear disease but are not usually the direct cause of infections. Ear infections, for some children, are very painful. Commonly associated symptoms include pulling on the ears, increased irritability or behavioral changes, awakening at night, fever, decreased appetite, not wanting to lie flat, or a loss of balance. You should contact your physician if your child is experiencing ear pain or if you suspect an infection. Some children have little or no discomfort and ear infections in these children may be picked up only upon a physician visit or as part of an examination for another complaint.
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The information on this site is provided by Sound Health Services and the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck, Inc. (AAO-HNS), and is for educational purposes only.