Pediatric otolaryngology, or ear, nose and throat (ENT), is a subspecialty designed to deal with the particular ear, nose and throat problems of children. While children are often affected by the same ENT conditions as adults, they may require special care to treat their complex conditions. Certain medical issues of the ear, nose and throat are handled almost exclusively by otolaryngologists who specialize in pediatrics.
Common Childhood Ailments
Pediatric otolaryngologists are trained specifically to diagnose and treat diseases that appear much more frequently in children than in adults. One example of such a medical condition is a middle ear infection, or otitis media, since anatomical differences in the ears of children make them much more susceptible to this problem. Another example is tonsillitis, which, along with adenoiditis is a much more common ailment in children than in adults, perhaps because of their immature immune systems.
In addition to be tuned in to the particular disorders of pediatric otolaryngology, pediatric ENT doctors are trained to interact with their young patients in ways that make the children feel comfortable and safe.
Congenital abnormalities, such as a cleft lip, cleft palate or congenital deafness are conditions best addressed as soon as possible in early childhood, so that speech development will be impacted as little as possible. For this reason, pediatric otolaryngologists are more likely to consulted for assistance with congenital medical problems than other physicians.
Other Problems Treated by Pediatric Otolaryngologists
Pediatric otolaryngologists treat a wide variety of childhood illnesses and conditions. These may include the following conditions when they are present during childhood:
- Breathing disorders
- Ear infections, hearing loss
- Nose and sinus problems
- Tonsils and adenoid infections or inflammations
- Speech and language disorders
- Congenital abnormalities of the ear, nose, sinuses, tongue
- Head and neck tumors
- Craniofacial abnormalities, including cleft lip, cleft palate
- Facial Paralysis
- Food allergies
- Sleep apnea
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD
Pediatric otolaryngologists are trained not only to treat medical problems of the ear, nose and throat with medications and non-invasive procedures, but are also qualified to perform complex surgeries of the area.