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?

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.