(This post is featured in Richmond Family Magazine’s July 2015 issue)
Summer is here, so ’tis the season for sun, swimming, and unfortunately, swimmer’s ear. Otitis externa, more commonly referred to as swimmer’s ear, is an infection of the outer ear canal. This condition is more common with water exposure to the ear, and can develop in all age groups. Common symptoms include pain, mild to severe hearing loss, ear fullness, ear discharge, and tinnitus. Symptoms typically occur in only one ear. Preceding events include activities in water such as swimming, surfing, kayaking, or trauma to the canal including forceful ear cleaning or cotton swab usage.
Sinusitis affects 37 millions people in the U.S., and is defined as the inflammation of the lining of the nasal passages blocking the drainage of mucus. If not treated properly, sinusitis can lead to more serious health complications. There are two specific forms of sinusitis: acute and chronic. It’s important to know the difference between the two so proper care is received.
Sinus problems are usually considered seasonal, more prevalent in Spring and Summer. Winter also causes sinus problems due to cold weather and closed, damp houses without proper ventilation.
At first there is a cold or flu. This causes the skin inside your nose and sinuses to swell. The swollen sinuses cannot drain properly and mucus starts building up. This trapped mucus becomes the perfect place for bacteria to breed resulting in a sinus infection. You then start to feel stuffed up with persistent headaches, slight fever and other awful symptoms of sinusitis. Winter sinusitis may also be due to nasal polyps or even allergies.
Inflammation of the nasal mucous membrane is called rhinitis. The symptoms include congestion, sneezing and runny and/or itchy nose, caused by irritation in the nose. There are two types: allergic rhinitis and non-allergic rhinitis. Allergy testing with an ear, nose and throat specialist will clarify whether symptoms are an allergic response or not.
Millions of children are evaluated yearly for large tonsils and adenoids, which can cause problems ranging from obstructive sleep apnea to recurrent throat infections and ear infections. Symptoms usually include snoring and loud breathing, open-mouthed breathing, restless sleep, and pauses in breathing during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea can lead to daytime sleepiness and crankiness, or may paradoxically lead to hyperactivity. Many children diagnosed with behavioral disorders such as attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, may actually have obstructive sleep apnea!
Gearing up for another school year presents families with long to-do lists. Top on the to-do list should be taking care of necessary medical physicals for school and sports. Making sure your child has the ability to succeed in the classroom and at play is essential. During routine visits to the pediatrician parents should ask that their child have their hearing checked for a quick screening of potential hearing problems.