Back to School ENT Questions

Written by: Emma Squillace

It’s almost back-to-school time for kids, which means changes in routines for parents as well. We often think of winter as prime time for ear, nose, and throat issues, but the back to school season has its own set of concerns. Here we’ll cover some of the frequently asked questions that we often get at this time of year.

Are there any allergies to look out for in the classroom setting?

Yes. In the classroom, you may find allergy symptoms set off by dust, mites, or chalk dust. Especially if schools have been empty for the summer, it’s easy for allergy triggers to collect in vents. The best line of defence is to treat allergies medically, since avoiding triggers at school may be out of your control. There are treatments available like immunotherapy, that allow your body to get used to allergy triggers, slowly lowering the aggravating responses like itchy eyes, a runny nose, and a scratchy throat.

What contagious ear, nose, and throat conditions should I look out for?

Colds are very common during the school year, especially since students are exposed to hundreds of other kids every day. In turn their parents and siblings are exposed to these germs, and adults with no kids can get sick from coworkers or while running errands. The school year can be tough, especially because it’s hard to tell what other kids may be spreading around. One symptom combination that’s important to look out for is a sore throat with a fever, because this can indicate strep throat.

Strep can lead to tonsillitis, a condition that sometimes requires surgery. If you or your child has a sore throat that does not clear up quickly, it’s best to be evaluated by an ear, nose, and throat specialist like those at West Medical. Other signs of tonsillitis can include ear pain, red tonsils, visible white patches on the tonsils, fever, bad breath, and swollen lymph nodes.

Can swimming cause ear infections?

If you’re trying to fit in some end-of-summer fun, swimming can be at the top of the list. We’re often asked if ear pain can ever be linked back to swimming, and the answer is yes. There is a health condition that can come from spending time in the pool: swimmer’s ear. Swimmer’s ear is not something you catch from someone else in the pool. Instead it occurs when water remains in the ear after swimming. Symptoms of swimmer’s ear can include:

  • Red, swollen ear
  • Discharge from the ear
  • Itching in the ear canal
  • An ear that is painful to the touch
  • Muffled hearing

Sometimes swimmer’s ear clears up on its own, but sometimes it needs treatment. If swimmer’s ear progresses from mild to moderate to advanced, it can cause increasingly worse symptoms. It’s best to get a potential case of swimmer’s ear diagnosed early, before it progresses.

Is snoring a sign of exhaustion, or something more serious?

When you’re trying to adjust your schedule to a routine that you haven’t had all summer, it’s easy for you or your kids to feel extra tired. But if you and your family are snoring at night, is that just a sign of a very tiring day? No, often snoring can be the sign of a nose or throat condition. In adults this is sometimes a sign of sleep apnea. While snoring may seem like simply an annoyance, snoring caused by sleep apnea can be the sign of something more concerning. Sleep apnea can be dangerous, so it’s important to be checked by an ENT if you believe you may have this condition. It’s common for adults to have sleep apnea, but children sometimes suffer from this condition as well.

As you head into the back-to-school time of year, keep an eye out for ear, nose, and throat problems for yourself and your family. If you have any troubling symptoms, it’s best to get seen by an ENT expert like those at West Medical. We are happy to answer your questions or set up a consultation. You can reach us at (855) 690-0565.

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