Q & A with a Mercy Ear Nose Throat Specialist

dr-chad-putman-entHappy Wednesday! Today we’re continuing our interview with Dr. Chad Putman of Mercy, who we talked to last month about about ear infections. (If you missed that one, click here to read it.) For those of us who have kids with frequent ear infections, Dr. Putman offers some helpful insight on the common concerns parents have when kids battle these types of infections.

Can chronic ear infections cause long-term damage?

Middle ear infections typically don’t cause long-term conductive hearing loss which hampers sound transmission through the ears. It can cause a delayed or impaired speech if hearing loss is present for many months in young children.

How do tubes help prevent ear infections and how do doctors determine which kids need them?toddler

Tubes (or Pressure Equalization Tubes) keep a small hole open in the ear drum which essentially bypasses the middle ear problems kids have. The procedure takes a few minutes and requires a short gas anesthetic in children. They reduce the frequency of middle ear infections and allow middle ear fluid to drain which improves hearing and discomfort.

The true art of medicine  is to determine when kids need tubes. This most often occurs from frequent ear infections and prolonged hearing loss from middle ear fluid. There are recommendations from numerous studies that help guide us to determine when tubes are needed or if we can try other options first.

What are adenoids and why do some kids need to have them surgically removed?

Adenoids are tonsil tissue at the back of the nose that at times can cause chronic nasal blockage or not allow the Eustachian tube to drain as it should. Sometimes kids who have chronic nasal congestion, even when they’re not sick, benefit from taking out the adenoids at the same time when they receive tubes.

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Q&A with a Mercy Ear, Nose and Throat doctor

If you have kids, especially babies, toddlers and preschoolers, then you’ve probably seen a few ear infections and endured the misery they can cause for kids and parents. We recently interviewed Dr. Chad Putman of dr-chad-putman-entMercy to find out what causes ear infections, the tell-tale symptoms, genetic predisposition and treatment with antibiotics.

What causes most ear infections in children?

Middle ear infections (Acute Otitis Media) are infections that occur behind the ear drum and occur in children due to their Eustachian tubes not working well. These are the small tubes that open in the back of our nose that normally equalize the pressure behind our ear drums and cause our ears to pop when we fly on an airplane.

What are the red flag symptoms parents should know about which might indicate that their baby or child has an ear infection?baby-428395_640-2

Typical symptoms include nasal congestion, fever, and irritability since most ear infections are the result of an underlying upper respiratory infection. The only way to know for sure is to look at the ear drum.

Can a child be genetically predisposed to ear infections?

There have been some studies that link an increased frequency of ear infections in identical twins or triplets compared to other siblings in the same family. More research is being done to develop more specific genes and hopefully someday tests to allow us to determine who might be at a higher risk.

Should an ear infection always be treated with antibiotics?

The short answer is yes. Many studies show antibiotics reduce how long ear infections last and generally improves how the child feels while recovering. They also reduce the frequency of other rare complications that middle ear infections can cause.

We had SO many questions for Dr. Putman on this topic and several others, so look for a series of posts which continue our interview with him in the weeks to come. 

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New Mercy Walk-In Clinic option

quick tip mercyMamas, we know that getting sick NEVER comes at a convenient time. So it’s good to have a few different options on where and when to get help from a doctor.

Mercy (one of our nwaMotherlode sponsors) has just added a new walk-in clinic service at the Mercy Clinic Primary Care location at 2900 Moberly Lane in Bentonville.

This clinic will have providers treating the following minor symptoms: Flu, sore throat, cough cold, congestion, sinus infection, pink eye, urinary tract infection, and rash.

If your symptoms match up to one of those listed, you can see a doctor or nurse practitioner at the Moberly Lane clinic Mondays through Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

This is a walk-in clinic so there’s no need for an appointment, but we do advise calling the clinic on your way there just to see how long the wait might be. That phone number is 479-273-1550.

The Mercy Convenient Care Clinic — the one located on Highway 102 — will continue to operate as normal.

Health: The MyMercy App

smartphone woman600If you’re as co-dependent on your smartphone as we are, you already know that a well-designed app can be a mama’s best friend. It makes getting things done online faster, easier and doable no matter where you are.

my mercy app icon google playIf you’re not already communicating with your family doctor or your kid’s pediatrician via the MyMercy app, you should be. It’s so much easier to store all that important info (about appointments, test results, medications, etc.) on your app instead of trying to remember it all.

Here are 10 cool things the MyMercy app can do (so you won’t have to):

1. Store your child’s immunization history.

2. Review test results

3. Keep a list of all your medications.

4. Manage appointment times.

5. Message your doctor directly.

6. Read notes written by your doctor about recent appointments.

7. Upload health and fitness data. (You can even upload data from your Apple Health app if you’re using the tracking program.)

8. View and pay your medical bills.

9. See health information for every member of your family.

10. Request a copy of your medical records.

Below are a few screenshots of what the app looks like from the inside. To use the app, all you need to do is create your account through MyMercy.net. Once you’re all set up, just download the app from the App Store or Google Play and start using it.

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Health: Out of joint

We all know our bodies are made to move, but when you have a problem with one of your joints, it can not only make your daily routine painful, it can also prevent you from doing the things you dr. scott cooperlove. We asked local joint expert Scott Cooper, MD of Mercy to weigh in on our top 5 questions about maintaining healthy joints (for ourselves and our kids).

If your kids are playing competitive sports, be sure to pay close attention to Dr. Cooper’s answer to the fourth question. He gave us some compelling information about the dangers of overspecialization in youth sports.

How can I be sure that my work-out isn’t damaging my joints or causing long-term problems?

I’d say the best way to avoid joint damage while working out is to listen to your body. Muscle soreness is different than joint pain. Some soreness is to be expected after healthy, vigorous exercise, but if you have a knee, for example, that hurts and swells after a workout, that’s NOT normal.

Some people find that they’re able to walk a certain distance every day and be fine, but if they exceed that distance much, they hurt. I tell those patients to find out what and how much they can do knee xraywithout such pain, and stick to those limits. Joints are made to move, and exercise is not inherently harmful to them. In fact, it’s good for them, but if it hurts, it’s telling you to slack off, and if it’s significantly limiting, it’s probably worth a visit to the doctor to see what’s wrong.

If I have a sore joint after a work-out or after an accident, what are the best at-home treatments?

Remember the acronym RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. For the first 48 hours or so after an acute injury such as an ankle sprain, or even minor soreness after a workout, RICE is the thing, but remember that moderation is key. Don’t give yourself frostbite with an ice pack, and don’t put an ACE bandage on too tightly.

What are some of the most common ways people hurt their joints as they get older?

Older people most commonly hurt their joints through trauma from simple falls. Fractures involving the wrist and hip are most common, but injuries around the knee and shoulder are not rare.

What are the biggest risk factors for kids who develop joint problems?

The biggest problem in youth sports today is overspecialization — and it’s a HUGE problem, so huge, in fact, that one of the biggest names in orthopaedic sports medicine, Dr. James Andrews, has baseball pitchermade it his mission to put a stop to it. For example, there are people who think that the explosion in the incidence of ulnar collateral ligament injuries resulting in “Tommy John” surgery in pitchers is partly a result of these young people pitching too much from a very young age.

Parents need to realize that sports are for fun, that the odds of their kid being a professional athlete are minuscule, and even for those that are going to make it all the way to “the Bigs,” it is NOT helpful to focus exclusively on one sport (or even one part of one sport). It can actually be harmful.

Participating in other sports not only helps prevent overuse injuries and mental/emotional burnout, it can actually enhance overall athletic ability. Kobe Bryant was an accomplished soccer player. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer can show data that his football players usually played other sports growing up. There are countless examples.

What are the top 3 things moms could do to help their children prevent or avoid having joint problems?

1. Do NOT overspecialize, especially in youth sports. (See answer above for more info on this problem.)

2. Insist on good coaching of proper techniques.

3. Make sure the child gets enough rest from a particular activity (such as pitching).

Our thanks to Dr. Scott Cooper for his insight and helpful tips. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Cooper, call 479- 271-9607 or click here for more info about him on the Mercy website.

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