Ear, nose, and throat conditions

At Children’s, our team of specialists treats all conditions related to the ear, nose and throat with expertise and compassion. We work with your whole family to provide the best care for your child’s condition.

Ear, nose, and throat disorders

Common conditions associated with ear, nose, and throat disorders include the following. Your pediatrician will help you initially and if needed we can provide more specialized treatment. 

Upper airway obstruction

Upper airway obstruction is blockage in the throat, voice box or trachea. Causes can include tonsil and adenoid enlargement, croup, infections, foreign bodies and abscess.

Symptoms vary depending on the cause, but some symptoms are common to all types of airway blockage. They include: 

  • Agitation or fidgeting 
  • Bluish color to the skin 
  • Changes in consciousness 
  • Choking 
  • Confusion 
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Gasping for air 
  • Unconsciousness 
  • Wheezing, crowing, whistling, or other unusual breathing noises indicating breathing difficulty

Hearing disorders (loss)

Children’s treats kids with all types of hearing loss. There are two primary types of hearing loss: sensorineural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss happens when your inner ear or auditory nerve is damaged. This is a permanent hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss happens when sound waves cannot reach your inner ear. This may be caused by earwax build-up, fluid in the ear or a hole in the eardrum.

Speech, language and voice disorders

The voice program at Children’s provides care for children with voice disturbances which impact their breathing and/or voice. Condition treated include: 

  • Voice abnormalities 
  • Vocal fold disorders include: 
    • Abnormal closure (also called paradoxical vocal fold dysfunction) 
    • Nodules 
    • Paralysis 
  • Voice box disorders (also called Laryngomalacia) 

Swallowing disorders

Swallowing disorders are also called dysphagia. The problem can occur at any stage of the normal swallowing process as food and liquid move from the mouth, down the back of the throat, and into the stomach. Difficulties include the inability to swallow and coughing because food or liquid is entering the windpipe (aspiration).

Facial and neck masses

Facial and neck masses are fairly common in infants and children. Some neck masses we treat are congenital (present at birth) and result from abnormal formation during fetal development. The first time a neck mass may appear is with an upper respiratory infection such as a cold or sinus infection; the infection causes the neck mass to become enlarged and painful.

Although a neck mass can involve other structures in the head and neck area, most are benign (non-cancerous). Cancerous neck masses are rare in young infants and children. 

  • Wryneck (also called congenital muscular torticollis)
  • Neck mass abnormalities (also called branchial cleft abnormalities)
  • Head and neck cysts (including thyroglossal duct cyst, Dermoid Cyst, pilomatrixoma)  
  • Lymphatic malformations
  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma  
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma 
  • Neck Abscess

Craniofacial

Craniofacial irregularities (or anomalies) are a group of deformities in the growth of the head and facial bones that are present at birth. Some are mild while others are severe and require surgery. The most common types of craniofacial disorders include: 

Facial trauma

Facial trauma is physical injury to the face. Children’s ENT team treats the different conditions that fall into the facial trauma category. 

  • Facial soft tissue injuries: 
    • Burns 
    • Lacerations 
    • Bruises 
  • Bone fractures: 
    • Facial 
    • Nose 
    • Jaw 
  • Eye injuries

Tracheal disorders

The trachea includes all structures used for breathing including the windpipe, esophagus and lungs. Many disorders of the trachea are considered birth defects.

Conditions include: 

  • Narrowing of the windpipe (also called tracheal stenosis)  
  • Abnormal connections between esophagus and trachea (also called tracheoesophageal fistula)
  • Deformed esophagus (also called esophageal atresia) – a birth defect 
  • Trachomalacia – chest rings are not strong enough to keep your child’s airways open when exhaling 
  • Compression of esophagus by pulmonary arteries (also called pulmonary artery sling) – rare birth defect 
  • Deformed windpipe (also called complete tracheal rings) – rare birth defect 
  • Airway tumors

Tracheostomy dependent children

A tracheostomy is a surgical opening through the neck and into the windpipe through which a special tube is placed to allow an infant or child to breathe through. In some cases the tube is attached to a ventilator.