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The Most Common ENT Problems in Kids: Treating Nosebleeds, Colds & Ear Infections

dad supporting his sick daughter as she blows her nose

Medical visits for ear, nose, and throat (ENT) problems in kids total nearly 30 million per year. It’s no wonder since a child’s ears, nose, and throat are not fully developed until around age 6.

But how do you know when your child’s medical issue requires a visit to a doctor or pediatric ENT specialist? Here are tips for treating these common issues in children.

Common ENT Problems in Kids

Here are some of the most common ENT problems in kids. And some general guidelines for deciding whether you need to make an appointment with a doctor.

Ear Infections

Until a child’s sinus drainage systems fully develop, they’re more horizontal than vertical. This makes it easier for bacteria to grow and cause infections. That’s why ear infections are more common in young children than in older children or adults.

When To Treat at Home 

If the discomfort seems mild, warm compresses and over-the-counter pain relievers may help. But since ear infections are often quite painful and can get worse if not treated, they typically require a trip to the doctor.

When to See your Pediatrician for an Ear Infection 

See the doctor if:

When to See an ENT Doctor for an Ear Infection

Ear tubes can help in serious cases. Your pediatrician will likely recommend a visit to a pediatric ENT if:

Common Colds in Kids

Kids get colds all year long, which cause issues affecting the ears, nose, and throat. Some of these symptoms are similar to the flu, COVID-19, strep throat, or a sinus infection.

When to Treat at Home

You don't need to go to the doctor if these symptoms only last for about a week:

When to See Your Pediatrician for a Cold

Take your child to the doctor if your child:

Be aware of COVID-19 symptoms, which include any of the flu symptoms, as well as vomiting, diarrhea, and/or a new loss of taste or smell.

When to see an ENT

Your pediatrician may refer you to a pediatric ENT specialist if your child experiences recurring sinus infections or tonsil inflammation.

Looking for a Pediatric ENT Doctor?

UVA Children's ENT providers see kids with hearing loss and speech issues, as well as chronic ear infections and sinus issues.

Snoring or Noisy Breathing

Snoring and loud breathing aren't normal in children or even in adults. They should be checked out when they occur on a regular basis.

When to Treat at Home

If it only happens when your child has allergies, a cold, or other minor illness, there is likely no need to see a doctor. If your child experiences other or new symptoms, then this warrants a visit.

When to See Your Pediatrician for Snoring and Loud Breathing

Take your child to the doctor if snoring and/or noisy breathing occur consistently, even when they're not congested.

When to See an ENT

Your pediatrician will likely refer you to an ENT if they suspect:

Nosebleeds

Dry air, especially indoor air in the wintertime, can cause nosebleeds. Children also scratch and pick at their noses, which can cause excessive irritation inside the nasal passages, leading to nosebleeds.

When to Treat at Home

Nosebleeds may happen after a minor trauma, such as sticking a toy in the nose. Colds and allergies can also cause nosebleeds. These aren't concerning as long as they stop quickly.

When to See your Pediatrician for Nosebleeds

Take your child to the doctor if bleeding from an injury doesn’t subside or if nosebleeds are frequent.

When to See an ENT

Although clotting disorders are uncommon, your pediatrician will likely refer you to an ENT if nosebleeds:

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