Ear, nose and throat (ENT) problems are common in children. Approximately 83% of all kids experience at least one ear infection by the time they have their third birthday. That translates into nearly four in every five children. Nearly one in three kids has multiple ear infection experiences by that birthday. Between 300,000 and 400,000 children and adolescents have their tonsils removed every year. It is always scary when your child has to undergo surgery but there are ways to make it go more smoothly. Endoscopic sinus surgery is effective in at least 80% of the time. This can be especially effective at preventing sinus infections in kids who have them often.
- Expect some nasal discharge. When endoscopic sinus surgery is performed, often the surgeon will place packing inside the nose to absorb any blood or other discharge. While it is often removed at the first post-operative visit your child has with their doctor, it can come out on its own. This is normal and is a fairly common occurrence. Do not let this upset you. By the same token, it is perfectly normal for your child to experience some discharge from the nose that will probably include some blood. The amount should decrease gradually as the area heals over time. If you need to, you can place some dressing under the nose to catch that. Change it as you need to. If there is bright red bleeding or if your child throws up blood, you should call your doctor’s office. Any periods of prolonged bleeding warrant a phone call as well.
- No nose blowing at first! Keep your child from blowing their nose for the first two weeks after their endoscopic sinus surgery. Try to get your child to sneeze out of their mouth. This is something you may want to work on before your child has the surgery as it is not the normal way we sneeze and can take some getting used to.
- Treat congestion with nasal spray. There may be some increased congestion for the first few days after the endoscopic sinus surgery. You can use over the counter nasal sprays to help your child deal with this. Use one spray in each nostril twice each day. You can also use regular saline solution to irrigate the area. Use one or two sprays of this in each nostril. You can do this up to three to four times each day. You need to make sure you get the saline solution that is designed for nasal spray. Contact lens solution is not the same thing and should not be used for this.
- Use ointment to help with nasal irritation. Nasal irritation is common following endoscopic sinus surgery. You can use a variety of ointments to make your child feel better and help with the irritation, chafing or crusting. If you are unsure about which is the best to use, talk to your pediatrician. Use a cotton swab to apply it.
- Use nasal saline irrigations as instructed by your pediatrician. Doing these as instructed can greatly speed up the healing process by decreasing the amount of blood in the nasal cavity and by helping dislodge any packing that was inserted by the surgeon. Talk to your child’s doctor about the best products to use for your child and if there are any special ways you should handle this process.
- Use nasal steroids if recommended. Using nasal steroids can greatly reduce the amount of nasal congestion your chid experiences after the endoscopic nasal surgery. These are administered topically so that they are safe than other forms of steroid treatments. When you use topical or locally applied medications, they are not absorbed by the body and into the overall system. If you are familiar with common asthma inhalers that include a steroid, you should know the nasal steroids used following sinus surgery are not the same.
There are a lot of common ENT problems that impact children and adolescents of all ages. These can cause sleep disordered breathing and even hearing loss. Regular check ups with your general pediatrician can do a lot to identify and deal with small problems before they grow to become large ones.