Each year, American children miss approximately 22 million days of school
because of illness. Ear, nose, and throat issues are often the reason, with
ear infections, strep throat, and allergies being the most common culprits.
Hearing loss can also be a key factor in school performance. Unfortunately,
these conditions are often mistaken for behavioral problems such as
attention deficit disorder.
Kevin Wilson, M.D., Ear, Nose and Throat Physician at University of
· Ear infections are an infection of the middle ear, located behind the
eardrum. Symptoms can be mild to severe. They can usually clear up on
their own, but antibiotics are sometimes used.
· Ear infections can cause hearing problems. Talk to a doctor if
hearing loss persists several weeks after the infection has cleared.
· Ear infections can be caused when children are exposed to cigarette
smoke. In small children, they can be caused by allowing babies to suck on
bottles while sleeping.
· Prevention measures include hand washing.
· The ear infection itself is not contagious; however the cold virus that
can lead to an ear infection is contagious.
Strep throat is most common in school-age kids and teens.
Strep is contagious and tends to spread among groups of kids in school
through sneezing, coughing shaking hands.
Strep throat is typically treated with antibiotics.
Prevention includes frequent hand washing.
A tonsillectomy may be performed in kids who experience frequent and
recurrent strep throat.
About 40% of children suffer from allergies.
Allergies can have an impact on productivity and performance at school.
Severe allergies resulting in chronic ear infections can contribute to hearing
An ear, nose and throat specialist can help people who suffer from allergies
by identifying the source of the allergy and recommending treatment.
Treatments for allergies include medications or allergy shots or drops.
Signs include turning your ear toward a sound to hear it better, frequently
asking to have things repeated, keeping the volume on your radio or TV at
a level that others say is too loud, and pain or ringing in the ears
Causes include ear infections, head injury, birth defects, medications,
diseases, and loud noises (in teens, often caused by loud volumes on
personal music devices such as Ipods).
When should you see a professional and seek treatment?
· Anyone suffering from symptoms of hearing loss, chronic ear, nasal
and throat problems, and allergies should seek help.
· An ear nose and throat doctor (otolaryngologist) can help determine
what might be causing the problem and how it can be treated.
For more information about ear, nose, and throat issues, contact University
of Utah Hospital’s Ear, Nose, and Throat Clinic at