Children's ENT

Paediatric ENT Care: Addressing Ear, Nose & Throat Conditions in Children

October 26, 2023
Paediatric ENT Care Addressing Ear Nose Throat Conditions in Children

Children are on a constant journey of growth and discovery. However, this remarkable phase of life also comes with its unique challenges, especially when it comes to their health. They are particularly susceptible to a wide range of ear, nose, and throat (ENT) issues that can impact their overall development and quality of life. 

That is where paediatric ENT care comes into play, providing specialised help in diagnosing and treating these conditions in children. Whether it is the discomfort of ear infections or the troubles caused by tonsil problems, ENT Specialists in Singapore are dedicated doctors equipped with the knowledge and experience to address these issues with precision and compassion.

Keep reading to delve into common ENT conditions that affect children and the significance of timely intervention. 

Part 2 – Parents’ Guide to Paediatric ENT Care

2.1 What Paediatric ENT Care Entails

Paediatric ENT care revolves around the healthcare needs of children, focusing on conditions related to the ear, nose, and throat. At the heart of paediatric ENT care lies a fusion of two critical elements: specialised medical knowledge and a child-centric approach. This holistic combination ensures that children receive not only the necessary treatments but also care that acknowledges both their physical and emotional needs.

An ENT Specialist diagnoses various conditions using a variety of techniques and tools, all thoughtfully adapted to suit the age and comfort of the young patient. 

Among these assessment methods, visual examinations at an ENT clinic play a pivotal role. These examinations provide insights into the physical state of the ear, nose, and throat, enabling specialists to identify any visible abnormalities or issues. 

Furthermore, hearing tests are vital and can help in the early detection of hearing problems. By identifying hearing issues promptly, an ENT doctor can implement interventions to support the child’s auditory needs effectively.

In addition to visual examinations and hearing tests, paediatric ENT care may involve endoscopic procedures. These minimally invasive techniques allow specialists to explore the inner structures of the ear, nose, and throat in a less intrusive manner, reducing discomfort for the child while providing valuable diagnostic information.

2.2 Common ENT Conditions in Children

Common ENT Conditions in Children-ent for children

In this exploration of ENT for children, we will also explore the common conditions, shedding light on their causes, symptoms, and the care available to guide your child back to health. 

1. Ear Infections

Middle ear infection, medically known as otitis media, are among the most frequent health concerns in childhood. These infections occur when the middle ear — the space behind the eardrum — becomes inflamed due to the invasion of bacteria or viruses. An infection often starts with a respiratory infection, such as a cold or sinusitis. When the respiratory tract becomes infected, it can lead to the congestion of the Eustachian tube, a small passageway that connects the middle ear to the back of the throat. 

Ear pain, fever, irritability, pulling at the ear, fluid drainage and hearing difficulties are the hallmark symptoms of an ear infection. It is important to see an ENT Specialist in Singapore early to prevent the condition from worsening. 

The treatment of ear infections in children at an ENT clinic often depends on the severity of the infection and the age of the child. Sometimes, the body’s immune system can resolve the infection without the need for antibiotics in mild cases. If the infection is bacterial or particularly severe, a course of antibiotics may be prescribed to clear the infection. Treating underlying nose infection or nose allergy is an important part of management of children with otitis media.  Pain relievers may also be prescribed to help alleviate pain and reduce fever. In recurrent or severe cases, particularly when fluid buildup persists in the middle ear, surgical procedures like the placement of ear tubes may be considered. Ear tubes help equalise pressure and promote fluid drainage.

Learn more: 5 Ways to Help You Prevent Middle Ear Infections in Children

2. Tonsillitis

Tonsillitis is a frequently encountered childhood ailment that occurs when the tonsils, which are two small, oval-shaped glands located at the back of the throat, become infected by viruses or bacteria.

Children with tonsillitis often complain of a sore throat, which may range from mild discomfort to severe pain. Swallowing can be painful and challenging due to the inflamed tonsils and the condition is often accompanied by a fever, which is the body’s response to the infection. Foul-smelling breath can also occur and some children may experience changes in their voice, sounding hoarse or “throaty.”

If the tonsillitis is caused by bacterial infection, such as strep throat, a course of antibiotics prescribed by an ENT doctor is usually effective. The child will be encouraged to rest and stay well-hydrated to support their recovery. Gargling with warm salt water is also a natural remedy that can provide relief from sore throat symptoms. However, recurrent or severe tonsillitis may lead to the consideration of a tonsillectomy, a surgical procedure to remove the tonsils. This decision is typically made in consultation with an ENT Specialist and is based on factors such as the frequency and severity of tonsillitis episodes.

Learn more: Tonsillectomy: What Parents Should Know For Their Child

3. Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis in children typically occurs when the immune system reacts to allergens which are substances that trigger an allergic response. Common allergens include pollen, dust mites, pet dander, and mould spores. When a child with allergies comes into contact with these allergens, the immune system releases chemicals like histamines, leading to allergy symptoms. 

Frequent and repetitive sneezing and a runny or stuffy nose are common symptoms. Irritation, redness, itching, and tearing of the eyes can occur. Allergies can also trigger coughing which typically becomes worse at night. Postnasal drip may lead to a sore throat and allergic reactions can leave children feeling tired and irritable. 

Effective management of allergic rhinitis in children involves a combination of approaches such as avoiding allergens, taking nasal steroid sprays and  antihistamine or decongestant medications, as well as using saline nasal irrigation. But, if the child’s symptoms are severe or persistent, it is crucial to consult an ENT Specialist. They can perform allergy testing to identify specific triggers and develop a tailored management plan.

Learn more: 4 Lifestyle Habits That Will Keep Blocked Nose at Bay

4. Sinusitis

Sinusitis in children is often the result of an upper respiratory tract infection, such as a cold or flu. These infections can lead to swelling and blockage of the sinus passages, causing mucous to accumulate and providing an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive, ultimately resulting in sinusitis. 

Children with sinusitis often experience a stuffy or blocked nose due to the inflammation of the sinuses. A persistent runny nose, in which mucous may be thick or coloured, is another common symptom. Some children may complain of facial pain or pressure, especially around the eyes, cheeks, forehead or ears. Sinusitis can also lead to headaches, particularly in older children who can express this symptom. 

Sinusitis treatment in Singapore aims to relieve symptoms, address the underlying cause, and prevent complications. The use of saline irrigation and nasal steroid sprays often help manage upper respiratory tract infection or early bacterial adenosinusitis.If the symptoms fail to resolve, an ENT doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Sinus surgery for children is typically considered when conservative treatments, such as medications and lifestyle modifications, fail to adequately manage chronic or severe sinus issues.

Learn more: Your Guide to Common Treatment Methods for Sinusitis

5. Hearing Loss

Hearing loss in children can result from various factors such as congenital defects, ear infections, ear wax buildup, prolonged exposure to loud noises, illnesses, and medications. 

Recognising the signs of hearing loss in children is crucial for early intervention to prevent permanent hearing damage. Children with hearing loss may have difficulty acquiring speech and language skills at the expected age. They may appear inattentive or easily distracted, as they struggle to hear and understand spoken information. Hearing-impaired children may also increase the volume of electronic devices or television to hear better.

In cases of hearing loss due to ear infections, medical treatment at an ENT clinic with antibiotics may be necessary. For children with mild to severe hearing loss, hearing aids can amplify sound and improve hearing. In cases of profound hearing loss or deafness, cochlear implants may be recommended. These surgically implanted devices can bypass damaged parts of the ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve. If hearing loss is due to ear wax buildup ,a safe ear wax removal technique under microscope guidance by an ENT Specialist can restore hearing. 

Learn more: Ear Wax Removal for Children: Tips and Best Practices

6. Sleep Apnea and Snoring

Sleep is essential for a child’s growth, development, and overall well-being. However, sleep disorders like sleep apnea and snoring can disrupt this essential rest, affecting a child’s health and daily functioning. Sleep apnea in children is characterised by recurrent interruptions in breathing during sleep: Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most common and occurs when the muscles in the throat relax excessively, causing partial or complete blockage of the airway; Central Sleep Apnea is less common and occurs when the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe properly. Enlarged tonsils and adenoids can obstruct the airway, particularly during sleep, leading to OSA. Excess weight can contribute to the development of the condition and a family history of sleep apnea or other sleep disorders may increase the risk. 

While not all snoring indicates sleep apnea, loud and persistent snoring is a common symptom. Some children may momentarily stop breathing during sleep and experience excessive daytime sleepiness or irritability resulting from disrupted sleep at night.

Sleep apnea and snoring treatment in Singapore range from removing enlarged tonsils and adenoids to weight management and Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy that delivers a continuous stream of air to keep the airway open. 

2.3 Preventive Measures and Parental Guidance

Preventive Measures and Parental Guidance-ent specialist singapore

While these paediatric ENT conditions sound daunting, parents can reduce the risk and foster overall well-being in their young ones by implementing sound strategies and practices recommended by ENT Specialists

1. Good Hygiene Measures

Teaching children proper handwashing techniques is an essential first step in minimising the spread of germs that can lead to infections, including those affecting the ear, nose, and throat. Parents should encourage regular handwashing, especially before meals, after using the restroom, and after outdoor activities.

In addition to hand hygiene, parents should regularly clean toys, pacifiers, and other items that come into contact with the mouth or nose. This reduces the risk of bacterial or viral contamination and supports a healthier environment for play.

2. Allergen Management

Identifying and minimising exposure to allergens is crucial, especially for children prone to allergic rhinitis. Reduce dust mites in the home by using allergen-proof covers on pillows and mattresses, and washing bedding in hot water regularly. If allergies to pet dander are a concern, consider measures like keeping pets out of bedrooms, using air purifiers with HEPA filters, and frequent pet grooming. Maintain indoor air quality by controlling moisture and humidity to prevent mould growth.

Parents can also work with an ENT Specialist to identify specific allergens affecting their children and develop an appropriate management plan. Allergy testing can pinpoint triggers and guide treatment strategies. 

3. Vaccinations

Following recommended vaccination schedules protects children against diseases that can lead to ear, nose, and throat infections. Vaccines such as those for influenza, measles, mumps, and rubella help prevent illness and reduce the risk of associated complications.

Refer to the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule here.

4. Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Promoting a well-balanced diet rich in nutrients is key to supporting a child’s immune system and overall health. Encourage a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and adequate hydration.

Physical activity is also essential — regular exercise not only boosts the immune system but also helps prevent obesity, which can contribute to ENT issues like sleep apnea and snoring. 

5. Proper Ear Care

Advise children against inserting objects like cotton swabs into their ears, as this can cause damage to the delicate ear canal and potentially push ear wax deeper. 

In loud environments, such as concerts or sporting events, provide ear protection like earplugs or earmuffs to prevent noise-induced hearing loss. 

Part 3 – Seeking Paediatric ENT Treatments in Singapore

3.1 How ENT Specialists Provide Care for Children

How ENT Specialists Provide Care for Children-ent for children

Parents contemplating a visit to an ENT clinic in Singapore for their children often wonder about the approach taken by ENT Specialists in caring for young patients. These specialists adopt a child-centric approach, cultivating a friendly and inviting atmosphere within their clinics. Here is how they prioritise the well-being of children:

1. Child-Friendly Approach

ENT Specialists create an atmosphere that is comforting and welcoming to children, recognising that medical appointments can be intimidating. Their child-friendly approach includes:

  • Using child-friendly language that is easy for children to understand, avoiding complex medical terminology.
  • Incorporating playfulness and humour into the interaction to help children feel more at ease.
  • Employing techniques like showing colourful, child-friendly visuals or toys to divert children’s attention during examinations or procedures.
  • Providing gentle and age-appropriate explanations of medical procedures to alleviate fear and anxiety.

2. Collaboration With Parents

ENT Specialists understand the vital role parents play in a child’s healthcare journey. They engage in collaborative discussions with parents, ensuring they are well-informed and comfortable with the care plan. This collaborative approach involves:

  • Actively listening to parents’ concerns and addressing any questions or uncertainties they may have regarding their child’s condition or treatment.
  • Providing detailed explanations about the diagnosis, treatment options, and potential outcomes, allowing parents to make informed decisions.
  • Involving parents in the decision-making process regarding treatment options and ongoing care.

3. Long-Term Management

For children with chronic ENT conditions, ENT Specialists also provide ongoing care and support. This encompasses: 

  • Continuously monitoring the child’s progress and assessing the effectiveness of treatment plans.
  • Making necessary adjustments to treatment plans as the child’s condition evolves or responds to treatment.
  • Scheduling regular follow-up appointments to track the child’s health and address any emerging concerns promptly.
  • Conducting hearing tests and assessments as needed, particularly for children with hearing-related issues, to ensure optimal hearing function.

4. Patient Education and Parental Guidance

ENT Specialists play a important role in educating parents about their child’s condition. They provide valuable guidance to manage the condition effectively. This empowers parents to take an active role in their child’s ENT health by:

  • Providing parents with a comprehensive understanding of their child’s condition, including its causes, symptoms, and potential complications.
  • Offering guidance on preventive measures that can reduce the risk of recurrence or complications.
  • Instructing parents on appropriate home care techniques and practices to support their child’s well-being.
  • Helping parents recognise the signs that warrant immediate medical attention, ensuring timely intervention when necessary.

Learn more: 8 Common Conditions ENT Specialists in Singapore Treat

3.2 The Importance of Timely Intervention

The Importance of Timely Intervention-ent for children

Timely intervention is a proactive response that can enhance the child’s quality of life and offer peace of mind to both young patients and their parents. Here is why seeking professional medical advice early at an ENT clinic is of utmost importance:

1. Prevents Complications

Many ENT conditions, if left untreated or undiagnosed, can give rise to complications that may have lasting effects on a child’s health. For instance, an untreated ear infection can lead to hearing loss or recurrent infections, potentially affecting a child’s speech and language development. Timely treatment addresses the root cause of the issue, halts its progression, and reduces the likelihood of complications, safeguarding a child’s well-being.

2. Alleviates Discomfort

ENT conditions such as ear infections, tonsillitis, or sinusitis can cause substantial discomfort and pain in children. Early intervention allows for the prompt administration of appropriate treatment, relieving discomfort as soon as possible. By addressing the discomfort early on, timely intervention empowers children to engage fully in daily activities, fostering a happier and healthier lifestyle.

3. Supports Development

The ears, noses, and throats of children are vital components of their overall development. Certain ENT conditions, such as hearing loss or chronic nasal congestion, can hinder this development. Thankfully, addressing these issues promptly ensures that potential obstacles to development are identified and addressed early, allowing children to thrive in their milestones.

4. Enhances Quality of Life

Furthermore, ENT conditions like sleep apnea and snoring can significantly impact a child’s daily activities, sleep patterns, and overall quality of life. Timely intervention enhances a child’s sleep quality, resulting in improved daytime functioning. A child who receives prompt treatment is better equipped to engage fully in daily activities, including school, play, and social interactions.

5. Provides Peace of Mind

Last but not least, timely intervention offers peace of mind to parents and caregivers. When they seek medical attention swiftly, they can rest assured that their child’s health is being proactively managed, reducing worry and stress. 

3.3 Answering Frequently Asked Questions About Paediatric ENT Care

Navigating the world of paediatric ENT care can raise numerous questions for parents and caregivers. We shed light on this key aspect of a child’s health by answering some frequently asked questions: 

1. When should I take my child to see an ENT Specialist in Singapore?

You should consider taking your child to an ENT Specialist if they are experiencing recurring or persistent symptoms, such as chronic ear infections, tonsillitis, snoring, hearing loss, speech delays, or allergic rhinitis. Additionally, if your child has complex ENT conditions or requires specialised treatment options, an ENT Specialist can provide the appropriate care.

2. When is surgery necessary for ENT conditions in children?

Surgery may be necessary for conditions like chronic ear infections, recurrent tonsillitis, or obstructive sleep apnea. The decision for surgery is made after a thorough evaluation by an ENT Specialist.

3. How can I prepare my child for a visit to an ENT clinic?

To help prepare your child for a visit to an ENT clinic, you can explain to them in age-appropriate terms what to expect during the visit. Reassure them that the ENT doctor is there to help them feel better. Bring any relevant medical records or test results and make a list of questions or concerns you have. You can also bring comfort items, such as a favourite toy or blanket, to help your child feel more at ease during the appointment.

Paediatric ENT Care: Nurturing Little Ears, Noses, and Throats

Paediatric ENT Care: Nurturing Little Ears, Noses, and Throats-ent for children

Through precise treatments, compassionate care, and a focus on early intervention, ENT Specialists play a crucial role in safeguarding the health and well-being of our youngest generation.

Dr Gan Eng Cern is an ENT Specialist in Singapore whose clinic is located in Mount Elizabeth Novena. He treats a wide range of ENT conditions, including those commonly found in children. With a deep understanding of the unique needs of young patients, Dr Gan is committed to working collaboratively with parents and children to deliver the highest standard of care.

Get in touch with us today.

    When Should You See an ENT Specialist in Singapore?

    • Any ear, nose or throat symptoms that you are troubled with or concerned about
    • Persistent blocked nose with mouth breathing or snoring

    Dr Gan Eng Cern

    Dr Gan Eng Cern is a distinguished ENT doctor with fellowship training. In addition to his clinical practice as an ear, nose and throat specialist in Singapore, Dr. Gan has contributed to the academic field as a Senior Clinical Lecturer at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore. He is recognised for his extensive research work, with numerous contributions to reputable international ENT journals. Dr Gan is also highly sought after as a speaker and has shared his surgical knowledge as a surgical dissection teacher at various prominent ENT conferences and courses.

    Awards

    • 2020 – Reader’s Choice Gold Award for Best ENT Specialist (Expat Living Singapore)
    • 2016 – Best Educator Award (Eastern Health Alliance)
    • 2016 – “Wow” Award (Patient Compliment)
    • 2014 – Eastern Health Alliance Caring Award – Silver
    • 2014 – 19th Yahya Cohen Memorial Lectureship (awarded by the College of Surgeons, Academy of Medicine Singapore for best scientific surgical paper)
    • 2012 – Human Manpower Development Award (Ministry of Health, Singapore)
    • 2007 – Singhealth Best Doctor Award

    Qualifications

    • MBBS – Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia)
    • MRCS (Edin) – Member of the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh, United Kingdom
    • MMed (ORL) – Master of Medicine in ENT (National University of Singapore)
    • FAMS – Fellow of the Academy of Medicine Singapore

    Why Choose Dr Gan Eng Cern

    1

    Reliable & Reputable ENT Expert

    Experienced and patient ENT Specialist who has your best interests at heart. We aim to provide you with accessible and specialized care for any ENT condition in a comfortable setting.

    2

    Friendly & Helpful Clinic Staff

    Our friendly staff will assist you to the best of our ability and we are happy to accept most insurance providers and assist with E-filing with relevant insurance providers or Medisave.

    3

    Advanced ENT Equipment & Fully Equipped Facility

    Our ENT Specialist, Dr Gan Eng Cern, will be able to diagnose and offer personalised treatments for your specific ENT condition. You can expect a high level of ENT care in a spacious setting with in-house minor surgical, endoscopy, allergy testing and microscopy services.

    4

    Financial Options

    There are various financial options available for you to ensure that you are able to receive the most optimal treatment and care. Our ENT clinic staff will be able to assist you with your medical insurance claims and work with your chosen healthcare organization to minimize the hassle and paperwork required. In some cases, you may be able to utilise the funds in your Medisave account to defray part of the costs of your treatment. As our clinic is accredited by the Medisave board, we are able to process your claims from your Medisave for certain clinic procedures.

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