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After well-child visits, three of the top five reasons parents take their children to pediatricians are for ear, nose, and throat problems such as ear infections, sinusitis, and tonsillitis. Parents need education on how to manage these common conditions in an era of resistant antibiotics. Therefore, the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, located in Alexandria, VA, has created Kids E.N.T. (ears, nose, and throat) Health, a web site with good, reliable information that health care professionals and consumers can use. (To learn how to access information on the web site, see editor’s note at the end of this article.)
Health care professionals can distribute the fact sheets to patients or simply give them the web address. The information is invaluable, says Jerry Schreibstein, MD, president of the Massachusetts Society of Otolaryngology and a clinical assistant professor of otolaryngology at Tufts School of Medicine in Boston.
He frequently uses the information to help educate parents. For example, when he tells parents that their child needs a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy because enlarged tonsils and adenoids are blocking the upper airway resulting in sleep apnea, they have many questions. They want to know the definition of sleep apnea. Also, many parents do not know where the tonsils and adenoids are located in the body, though most have heard the terms, or the indications for surgical removal, the different techniques for removal, and the common problems people might encounter afterward.
While physicians can distribute handouts from Kids E.N.T. Health, the site is a good resource for parents as well. It is difficult for parents to know if they are getting reliable information when researching topics on the web and there is a lot of misinformation available, says Schreibstein. For example, many people believe that if a child’s tonsils and adenoids are removed, he or she will be more susceptible to infection, but other lymph nodes process bacteria and viruses to create antibodies to fight infections.
In addition to accessing reliable information, parents can use the web site to determine if their child’s ear, nose, or throat problem requires a visit to their physician. For example, it is not uncommon for a child to snore, but it may be a sign that he or she has sleep apnea. Signs of sleep apnea might be choking episodes at night or excessive sleepiness during the day.
If a child is having a tonsillectomy or getting ear tubes, parents can watch the procedure on videos accessed through the web site. They also can watch the video with their child if they determine the material is appropriate. "The Kids E.N.T. campaign has been striving to provide a good reliable source of information that pediatricians and ear, nose, and throat specialists can use to educate parents," says Schreibstein. The campaign will last for five years.
(Editor’s note: Kids E.N.T. Health is an on-line resource offering the latest information from otolaryngologists throughout the United States. Information includes a glossary of terms as well as articles and fact sheets. To access, go to: www.entnet.org/kidsent.)
For more information about Kids E.N.T., contact:
• American Academy of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, One Prince St., Alexandria, VA 22314-3357. Telephone: (703) 836-4444. Web site: www.entnet.org.