Although children are often affected by the same ear, nose and throat conditions as adults, they often require special care to treat these complex conditions. Children are often more susceptible to ENT conditions and are commonly affected by chronic ear infections, tonsillitis, congenital defects, voice and speech disorders, sleep apnea and more. Dr. Sterling is specially trained to diagnose and treat the unique conditions that affect children. We strive to provide the most effective treatment while taking into consideration the comfort of our patients and concerns of their parents.
After completing four years of medical school and earning their MD degree, all U.S. trained ENT (Otolaryngology) physicians spend a very large part of their additional five or six years of specialty training (“residency”) focusing on medical and surgical treatments for children. Therefore, all U.S. trained, Board Certified ENT physicians are fully trained to treat children as a core part of their practice. That is certainly true in our practice, as Dr. Sterling’s training at MUSC placed heavy emphasis on pediatric ENT.
Ear infections are one of the most common diseases in children and occur most often between the ages of four months and five years. An infection occurs when excess fluid, often as a result of a cold, becomes trapped in the eustachian tubes or infected by bacteria. This fluid pushes against the eardrum and causes pain.
Aside from pain, ear infections can also cause:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Discharge from the ear canal
- Hearing loss
We treat these either with antibiotics or procedures such as tympanostomy tubes for recurrent or chronic serous otitis media.
Tonsillitis is an inflammation of the tonsils, caused by a virus or bacteria. This condition is common in children and spreads through contact with throat or nasal fluids. The tonsils become swollen, red and painful and may be coated with a yellow or white substance.
Most cases of tonsillitis are caused by a virus, although it can sometimes be caused by the same bacteria that causes strep throat. Tonsillitis symptoms include:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Sore throat
- Swollen lymph nodes
Dr. Sterling will usually be able to identify tonsillitis by finding red and swollen tonsils with spots or sores on them. A rapid strep throat test may also be performed to determine the cause. Tonsillitis can usually be treated at home through rest and drinking plenty of liquids. Antibiotics may be prescribed for bacterial infections. Surgery to remove the tonsils may be recommended if a child has recurrent throat infections or a persistent infection.
A neck mass is a common childhood condition that involves swelling that changes the shape of the neck. Neck masses do not usually cause any symptoms and often disappear on their own, although they should be evaluated by your child’s doctor to determine if treatment is necessary.
There are several different types of common neck masses, including congenital cysts, inflamed lymph nodes, and rarely malignancy. Neck masses that last more than a few weeks should undergo diagnostic testing. Depending on the type, size and location of the mass, Dr. Sterling may perform an imaging exam such as an ultrasound, CT scan or MRI for a magnified view of the mass, or a biopsy to test for any cancerous cells.
Treatment for a pediatric neck mass can vary depending on each individual lesion, but may include regular observation to detect any growth or abnormalities, antibiotics for infected masses or resection to surgically remove the mass.