5 ENT tips for parents: common ear, nose, and throat problems

Written by: Mr Samuel Jayaraj
Edited by: Cal Murphy

Young children often get coughs and colds, blocked noses and waxy ears, causing them much discomfort. It can be difficult for first time parents to find the right solution, as they spend another sleepless night trying to comfort their crying child. ENT specialist Mr Samuel Jayaraj gives advice on how to make life easier when your child is suffering from a common ear, nose, or throat problem.

  1. Getting a snuffly or blocked nose is part of growing up, and par for the course for young children still learning their way in the world. If your child has a snuffly or congested blocked nose, try a saline (salt water) nasal spray. These are drug free and simple and gentle to use, providing relief to your child. They add moisture (counter-acting the effects of central heating, air conditioning and pollution) and help loosen up mucus in the nose and wash away allergens. This simple solution can help clear up your child’s problem so that they can carry on with their little adventures.
  2. There’s always a bug going around at some point or another at school or in the nursery, so it is very likely your child may develop a cough sooner or later. However, if your child has a cough without an obvious bug, it may be due to acid reflux. Putting a book under the mattress or the feet of the bed at the head end to raise the child’s head will help reduce any acid reflux that could be causing the cough. If the cough persists it may be a good idea to get your child checked out by your GP or a specialist. Certain cough medicines may also provide the remedy they need.
  3. Ear wax build-ups are also a common part of growing up, and in many cases not much can be done to avoid them occurring. Often, earwax may fall out on its own, but to speed up the process if your child’s ears are waxy, use ear wax softening drops to encourage the wax to come out naturally. Don’t use cotton buds in the ears; this may push the wax further in or against the ear drum, and may stop the natural ear canal wax-cleaning process from working or may traumatise the skin of the ear canal. Ear wax only really causes hearing loss if it has been pushed in or compacted in the canal or against the ear drum.
  4. Don’t give a milk bottle to your child when they are in their cot. Having a feed may aggravate reflux at night, depriving both child and parents of much needed sleep. Also the milk may collect in the back of the throat and nose and affect the Eustachian tube increasing the risk of glue ear which causes hearing loss.
  5. Don’t smoke around children.

    We all know about the negative effects of smoking, and how it can give rise to a large number of conditions or diseases, but it is im­portant to bear in mind that children are more susceptible to cigarette smoke. Children of parents who smoke are more likely to devel­op glue ear and rhinitis. Children are also more likely to grow up to be smokers if their parents smoke, so think twice before lighting up with your child around. If you do need to smoke, do it outside and not in front of your children.

By Mr Samuel Jayaraj
Otolaryngology / ENT

Mr Sam Jayaraj is one of London's most highly-skilled ENT surgeons. He is formerly Clinical Director of ENT at Barts Health NHS Trust and Chairman of the Medical Advisory Committee at the Holly Hospital.

He is a Founding Partner of OneWelbeck ENT in Marylebone, London.

Although he treats the full range of ENT conditions, he has a special interest in rhinology (nose, sinuses and allergy) , facial plastic surgery, paediatric ENT and general otology (ear infections, blocked ears and dizziness).

He has won several prestigious awards including 'Best Otology Presentation' at The Royal Society of Medicine and has published over 40 papers on field-related matters.

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