Living Well: Combating common ailments — Ear, nose, throat physician joins Memorial Regional Health team
If you or a family member have never had a sinus infection, count yourselves lucky. It’s a common secondary infection the follows a bad cold or flu and causes nasal congestion, facial pain, headaches, ear pain, loss of smell, and aching in the teeth and jaw. Or, maybe your child suffers from frequent ear infections. These are only two of the most common ear, nose, and throat conditions seen in children. Fortunately, you can now receive advanced care for ENT concerns from Memorial Regional Health.
If your children have never had an ear infection, they’re an anomalies, because five out of six kids experience an ear infection by their third birthday, according to the National Institutes of Health. Kids get more ear infections than adults, thanks to their smaller, more horizontal eustachian tubes. Acute otitis media, the most common type of ear infection, causes pain and sometimes fever. It can be caused by either a virus or bacteria. You may notice your toddler tugging at his or her ear and being more fussy than usual, with frequent wake ups. Like sinus infections, ear infections can occur after a bout of the common cold.
When your child has multiple ear infections in a year, an ENT might consider ear tubes, small tubes placed in the eardrum to allow air to enter the middle ear and prevent fluids from accumulating. They usually stay in the ear for six to nine months.
“We have firm criteria on when to place ear tubes, and I am a stickler on meeting those criteria. Sometimes, I advise waiting if we’re coming out of the cold and flu season in April to see what happens the following fall, after a child has grown that much more,” said Dr. Robert McLean, MRH’s new, full time ENT physician.
Strep throat is also a common childhood illness. Strep throat is a highly contagious bacterial infection that must be treated with antibiotics. Symptoms include a sore throat, fever of 101 degrees or more, red and swollen tonsils, and red spots on the roof of the mouth. Remember, most sore throats are caused by viruses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you are concerned your child has strep, stop by Rapid Care for a throat culture.
“The most common reason I see children at MRH Rapid Care is cold and cough symptoms related to upper respiratory infections,” said Maggie Schoeberl, PA-C. “We also see quite a bit of strep throat during the school year.”
If your child catches strep throat over and over again, it might be time to consult with McLean. While tonsillectomies are not as common today as they were in the past, sometimes, they are still a good option for treating chronic, year-after-year, strep throat.
“As with ear infections, there is strict criteria on when to take tonsils out,” McLean said.
Other reasons to bring your child to the ENT are for surgeries to treat facial abnormalities, including cleft lip and cleft palate. An ENT can also help with hearing loss, breathing difficulties, chronic nose bleeds, chronic hoarseness, nasal obstructions, head and neck injuries, and thyroid and vocal cord problems in kids.
McLean begins work Nov. 1 and will practice by appointment only out of Rapid Care, 2020 W. Victory Way. To make an appointment, call 970-826-8300.