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Parents Guide to Pediatric ENT Services

When their child has an issue with their ears, nose, or throat, parents can feel overwhelmed. All they want is for their child to feel better, and sometimes, this requires more help than they can give. This may mean a visit to a pediatric ENT.

However, you may not be sure what a pediatric ENT treats or if they’re the right medical specialist for their child.

What is a Pediatric ENT Specialist

A pediatric ENT provides treatment for ear, nose, and throat issues in children, ranging from newborns to teens up to 17 years of age. Along with medical school training, typically four years, pediatric ENTs also undergo some specialty training that includes:

  • At least one year of surgical internship
  • One year or more of residency in general surgery
  • Three to four years of residency training in otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat), along with head and neck surgery

A pediatric ENT may also participate in a fellowship with an established ear, nose, and throat specialist. The fellowship often takes place in children’s hospitals, and the length of the study varies depending on the specifics of the program.

For parents worried about their child’s medical care, it can be reassuring to know their pediatric ENT has undergone training beyond medical school.

A Closer Look at What a Pediatric ENT Treats

Okay, so you know a pediatric ENT treats issues involving the ear, nose, and throat in children, but this is a pretty broad definition. You may think a specialist is necessary every time your child has a runny nose or sore throat, and you may be partially correct.

 However, before you start requesting a referral to an ENT from your pediatrician for every sniffle, it helps to know a little more about the conditions the specialist treats.

Hearing Loss

There are three primary types of hearing loss in children an ENT can treat:

  1. Conductive hearing loss: This occurs when your child is unable to hear sound waves being transmitted from the outer or middle ear to the inner ear
  2. Sensorineural hearing loss: This type of hearing loss occurs when a child loses function in their inner ear or with the connection to the brain
  3. Mixed hearing loss: This occurs when there’s damage to the outer, middle, or inner ear or the auditory nerve


Your child can also suffer from a condition known as otitis media, an infection in the middle ear. Even though ear infections are relatively common in young children, they can also indicate a more serious problem. If your child seems to always have an ear infection, it’s a good idea to talk to your pediatrician about a referral to a pediatric ENT specialist.

Some children with severe hearing loss can undergo cochlear implant surgery, which is a tiny device that helps stimulate the cochlear nerve. This nerve is responsible for sending audio impulses to the brain. The implant can help children understand audio and speech patterns.

Nasal Blockages

Clogged and runny noses are a common part of growing up—however, sometimes the nasal blockage is more than a problem with mucus.

A blocked nasal passage can make it difficult to breathe, and this can be frightening for little ones and their parents. When constant nose blowing doesn’t seem to be enough to clear the obstruction, it may be time to start thinking about making an appointment with an ENT.

What causes nasal blockages can vary from the cold, flu, and allergies to slightly more severe issues like:

  • Nasal polyps
  • Cysts or tumors in the nasal cavities

Large adenoids. Adenoids are glands in the upper airway that work with your child’s immune system to help fight germs that enter the body through the nose and mouth. Most children see their adenoids start shrinking around the age of 7 or 8, but sometimes the glands can become enlarged.

How do you know if your child is experiencing problems with their adenoids? Some common symptoms include:

  • Frequent sore throats
  • Nasal congestion that doesn’t seem to go away
  • Breathing almost exclusively through the mouth
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Snoring

Some children may also complain of a ‘full’ feeling in their ears. This feeling can be similar to the ear pressure you experience during takeoff and landing in an airplane.

Throat Problems

As an adult, you know how annoying and painful a sore throat can be. For children, the symptoms can be almost unbearable. Suddenly, it hurts to swallow and even speak, and your child doesn’t understand why. Pretty soon, you’re both miserable.

Along with treating some of the causes of frequent sore throats, a pediatric ENT can also treat issues involving the vocal cords. Even though a few minutes of quiet can sound appealing, you don’t want your child to suffer. Some common vocal cord issues ENTs often treat include:

  • Vocal cord dysfunction
  • Vocal cord paralysis
  • Vocal cord lesions

An ENT can also treat a less common condition known as dysphagia. If your child is suddenly having difficulty swallowing, they may have developed the condition.

Pediatric ENTs Also Treat Some Neck and Head Disorders

The thought of something being wrong with your child’s neck or head can be enough to send most parents into a panic.


Suddenly, you’re staying up all night, researching symptoms and trying to self-diagnose your child’s condition. While a Google search of various symptoms can bring up a long list of potential causes, it’s rarely a good idea to try and find a solution without professional medical guidance.

Instead of worrying, talk to your child’s pediatrician about their symptoms. You may need to visit an ENT for treatment. This can include conditions like:

  • Tumors on the thyroid
  • Masses in the head and neck
  • Facial paralysis
  • Masses in the salivary glands
  • Lymph node masses or diseases

Did you know that a pediatric ENT can also treat some types of birthmarks that occur on the neck or head?

Talk to a Pediatric ENT About Your Child’s Condition

Discovering that your child may need to see a medical specialist can indeed be distressing, as parents naturally aspire for their children’s well-being and health. Nonetheless, certain health issues necessitate expert evaluation and treatment to ensure the best possible outcomes.

If you suspect your child is experiencing issues related to their ear, nose, or throat, you must consult with your pediatrician as soon as possible who can guide you towards a specialist in pediatric otolaryngology.