As the new school year approaches, many parents are preparing their children by buying school supplies, new clothes, and organizing fall sporting events. But in order to help kids get a healthy head start to the school year, the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) also recommends taking a closer look at your child’s health for common ear-, nose-, or throat-related health issues that might affect academic success.

"Ear, nose, and throat health problems are among the most common medical conditions that children face," says Jay Youngerman, MD, chief of the Division of otolaryngology at North Shore Hospital, Plainview, NY. "In addition to the standard back-to-school physical, parents should also consider whether or not their child would also benefit from seeing an otolaryngologist for additional evaluation."

Youngerman cites the following common ENT health concerns in the back-to-school season:

1. Hearing loss: Hearing difficulty or loss can greatly impact childrens’ performance in school and their ability to interact with peers, and is increasingly a risk because of the popularity of MP3 players. Most children have their hearing evaluated after birth or in the first few years to determine any congenital conditions, however, as hearing loss is also caused by things like infections, trauma, and damaging noise levels, the problem may not emerge until later in childhood. Monitoring a child’s hearing ability on a consistent basis can help a parent take action early if an issue should arise.

2. Pediatric obstructive sleep apnea and other childhood sleep disorders: Obstructive sleep apnea, also known as sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) is not uncommon in children, but can have a profound impact on their educational experience by causing daytime sleepiness, aggravating attention deficit disorder,and other behavioral issues, along with bedwetting and slowed growth. The number one indicator of SDB is restless sleep and labored breathing, which  includes loud snoring that occurs every night, regardless of sleep position. Snoring is then followed by a complete or partial obstruction of breathing, with gasping and snorting noises.

3. Facial sports injuries: Many children begin the fall with a variety of team- and individual-sports programs, which provide great exercise , but can result in a variety of injuries to the face, such as broken noses and facial abrasions. Many injuries are preventable by wearing proper protective gear. Check with the child’s coach to make sure the child has and is wearing all the necessary protective equipment, and touch base with the coach after each practice to see if the child sustained any injuries while playing.

"Other common issues like chronic allergies and sinusitis can also make a big impact on back-to-school success," Youngerman says. "Knowing the signs and symptoms will help a parent take quick action should an ENT health issue arise."

For more information on children’s ear, nose, and throat health, including a detailed Q & A with Youngerman and a tip sheet for getting the most out of a child’s doctor’s appointment—or to find a local ENT physician, visit the AAO-HNS Web site.

AAO-HNS represents more than 12,000 physicians and allied health professionals who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the ears, nose, throat, and related structures of the head and neck.

[Source: Medical News Today]