Posts Tagged ‘ ear infections ’

Efforts to Reduce Ear Tube Surgeries Slowly Having an Impact

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Last year, the American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery Foundation issued new guidelines that called for “watchful waiting” to take the place of rapid progress to ear tube surgery for kids who have frequent ear infections.  Now, a review of the procedure’s frequency across the U.S. shows that it is in fact reducing the number of ear tubes, which are surgically inserted while a child is under anesthesia, but perhaps not at the rate the foundation had hoped.  More from the Wall Street Journal:

While it’s too early to tell, “anecdotally it does seem to have made a difference,” said Richard Rosenfeld, chairman of otolaryngology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. He chaired the task force that drew up the guidelines.

The guidelines state that for children with recurrent ear infections, ear tubes, or tympanostomy tubes, should be put in place only if middle-ear fluid is also present in at least one ear at the time of inspection. Children with persistent fluid buildup in the middle ear of both ears for at least three months, with or without an ear infection, are also candidates for ear-tube surgery.

Previously many doctors recommended ear tubes in children who either had recurrent ear infections—three in six months or four in a year—without fluid, or middle-ear effusion. Ear infections are concerning because of potential hearing loss that could cause developmental delays.

Contributing to a desire by doctors and parents to avoid surgery are concerns about the use of general anesthesia in young children. Researchers and doctors are exploring devices that would enable ear-tube procedures to be performed using alternatives. Preceptis Medical, a Plymouth, Minn., company, is testing a device, the Hummingbird, that uses nitrous oxide instead of general anesthesia in clinical trials at four sites, including the Mayo Clinic. Acclarent, a division of Johnson & Johnson, is working on using technologies that may allow for ear-tube procedures to be done in-office without general anesthesia, a spokeswoman said.

To insert tubes, doctors make a small cut in the eardrum and place the tiny, cylinder-like tube through it. It takes less than 10 minutes. The tube helps with air flow and prevents the buildup of fluids behind the eardrum. The tubes usually fall out within a year or two, and the holes close on their own, though sometimes a doctor must close them surgically. Children with tubes can still get ear infections, but doctors say they are generally less frequent, milder and can be treated with antibiotic drops.

Image: Ear exam, via Shutterstock

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Study: Pets May Make Kids Healthier

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Having a dog or cat in the house when children are less than a year old may mean the kids face fewer health problems later in their childhoods, a new study conducted in Finland has found–with dogs offering greater potential protection than cats.  CNN.com has more:

The study, published in next month’s issue of Pediatrics, followed 397 children from before birth to age 1, and noted the number of times they had contact with either a dog or cat each week.

Although it’s a pretty common thing to see newborns with minor respiratory issues and ear infections, researchers found those babies who had more interaction with animals seemed to have fewer of these problems and needed less medication, even when they were sick.

Even though babies living with cats were still protected, their protection was not as strong as those babies who lived around dogs. And kids living in homes in which dogs went in and out of the house more often seemed to have the lowest risk of infections.

Although doctors acknowledge more research is needed, they say there’s something about animals that affect an infant’s immune system which can protect against certain childhood infections.

Image: Baby with dog, via Shutterstock.

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