EIC Social Media Team
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Acupuncture After Tonsillectomy: A Safe Alternative to Treat Pain in Children After Tonsillectomy
For thousands, having their tonsils removed is one event that can disrupt the pleasant carefree spirit of childhood, albeit temporarily. It is a very common procedure, though not one that is embraced by both parents and children alike as it can bring about great discomfort and pain. While it does bring relief in the long run, recovery time after surgery can be unpleasant. Prescribing codeine used to be the standard to combat pain and discomfort. As of early last year, the FDA banned codeine for this purpose. Other pain-relieving alternatives have to be sought, and acupuncture after tonsillectomy may be a viable option for children.
It was ascertained that codeine could cause severe complications when used for pain management after a tonsillectomy in children, and hence the FDA ban. Physicians have been trying to find an adequate replacement to ease postsurgical pain in children. One ENT specialist discovered that acupuncture is a safe, easy, and affordable solution. A trial including 31 children of varying ages found that acupuncture relieved symptoms almost immediately. Upon following up with parents, it was also noted that the treatment lasted more than two days. The use of an alternative drug-free therapy over a narcotic has its appeal, especially when it comes to younger children.
In the past, over-the-counter pain relieving medications, such as ibuprofen, have been used to ease post-surgery pain in children but with little success as they can cause severe complications in very young patients. Finding a safe alternative that is just as effective is something many in the ENT field are excited about. Similar studies are underway to help determine if acupuncture would have the same results in children undergoing other types of surgery as well. In the meantime, physicians will continue to take advantage of these findings and employ them when it comes to their smallest patients and mindfully recommend acupuncture after tonsillectomy to parents.
Is Ear Tube Surgery Worth the Benefits?
When a child has fluid in their middle ear, parents are faced with a big decision. Do they choose to take the risk of ear tube surgery and put in ear tubes or do they wait and see? New research is causing doctors to reconsider their positions on this subject.
Researchers looked at cases of children who suffered from otitis media with effusion, or OME, and subsequently who had ear tube surgery. They found that while this procedure improved hearing for a time and relieved some of the pain, putting in ear tubes, in the long run, did not amount to the effects they were hoping for. The improvements in hearing ability as a result of ear tube surgery only lasted less than a year.
Fluid in the middle ear can cause pain and hearing loss, but the fluid itself does not carry an infection. OME affects most children and has at least one case in their childhood years. It is the leading cause for ear tube surgery. One technique is to make a small cut and insert a tube to relieve pain by draining fluid and decreasing pressure. At times this procedure is coupled with another where tissue is removed from the throat. Treatment results were seen to last up to two years. The conclusion of the case review was that while these types of procedures can have positive short-term effects, they do not really make a difference in the long-term development of speech and hearing.
When weighing their options for ear tube surgery, parents should consider the possible positive effects and the short-term improvements in their child’s life against the possible risks that come with undergoing surgery. In the studies, researchers were also hoping to find what the effects of these types of procedures would be on adults, but unfortunately the results were inconclusive.
Better Airflow Airplane Technology Leads to Better Breathing
Advancement in avionics is leading to advancements in healthcare as well. Patients that suffer from pulmonary problems may be able to breathe easier thanks to developments in airplane design. Better airflow airplane technology is helping people with respiratory conditions to breathe easier.
There is a science that studies how algorithms can affect the flow of air or liquid. These computer codes help airflow for airplanes. Since it has been successful, many consider using these algorithms to be more cost-effective than using models. Recently, researchers have started applying this science, also known as computational fluid dynamics (CFD), to study the flow of air in the body, especially as it relates to problems involving the respiratory system. Conditions like asthma and sleep apnea may find new treatments thanks to these algorithms.
The respiratory system is a channel made up of different parts, some firm and others not, that distribute oxygen throughout the body. Many disorders related to disruption of oxygen circulation are caused by the more delicate structures being deformed or even collapsing. Disorders that result can range from annoying to life-threatening.
Researchers are now using the airplane science of CFD and its computer codes to examine medical data taken from people that have respiratory conditions. With the help of MRI, these algorithms allow physicians to better assess problems and recommend relevant treatments to patients. This practice has led to an increased success rate of surgery as well as a decrease in the number of unneeded surgeries being performed.
In the past, doctors have only been relying on clinical diagnosis and medical imaging machines to view the respiratory landscape. Since every case is different and there might be normal variants of a person’s airway, success rates of treatment and surgery were somewhat limited. With airflow airplane technology algorithm, or CFD, physicians can better tailor their treatments to the needs of each patient.
Strep versus Sore Throat: Learn the Difference Here
When school is in session, outbreaks of strep throat can be common. Determining whether this common childhood infection is actually strep or just a sore throat can be challenging. Some parents may not be sure what the differences are or how to determine when to take a child to the doctor for treatment. Here are some things to keep in mind when weighing the differences between strep versus sore throat.
To start, a sore throat is generally caused by a virus. Usually, it will manifest along with other symptoms such as sneezing and a runny nose. There is no medicine that will cure a viral infection, so it generally just has to run its course. While they may be similar, there are marked variations between a strep and a virally induced sore throat.
Strep throat is caused by a bacterial infection. It is contagious, and this is one reason it spreads so quickly, particularly among little ones. Sneezing, coughing, and inadequate handwashing are some ways the infection can be spread. Generally, an infection leading to strep throat is treated with antibiotics. Symptoms may include fever, swollen tonsils, nausea, difficulty swallowing, and white and red patches on the throat. When these symptoms present themselves, it is a good idea to call the pediatrician. A swab test can be done to determine if there is in fact a strep infection. Plenty of rest, fluids, and a course of antibiotics are generally all that is needed to have children back to a normal routine.
The question often arises as to whether a child should have their tonsils removed in cases of frequent strep infection. Research has shown that this may be advisable when infections occur more than seven times in one year, or several times in two consecutive years. Talking to your pediatrician is best when making such a decision.
Knowing the differences between strep versus sore throat can save parents an emergency visit expense, but when in doubt always consult a medical professional.
Not Just a Procedure for Children: The Benefits of Tonsillectomy in Adults
Some children are prone to sore throats, strep throat, and tonsillitis. At times, these types of conditions are frequent enough that they warrant a tonsillectomy. This can prove to be a blessing for children as it brings much wanted relief. What about adults? A percentage of the adult population complains of frequent and painful sore throat. Missing days from work and school accumulate, and overall quality of life can be hindered. Is tonsillectomy for adults a reasonable solution to the problems experienced? An independent study was done that may shed some light on the topic.
European researchers found a group of individuals willing to participate in the study. Eighty-six patients who complained of frequent sore throat were closely studied. Forty-six of these participants elected to have a tonsillectomy. The others were part of the control group. Follow-up after the procedure was done at five months. Seeing as the patients chose to undergo surgery, the results may reflect a bias. Nevertheless, researchers are certain there was an overall improvement in condition.
For those who had their tonsils removed, only one complaint of a sore throat was made. When compared to the control group, where 80 percent complained of a sore throat at some point within those five months, there is a marked difference. Those who opted to have the tonsillectomy also showed improved numbers when it came to the amount of days from work and school missed.
While a tonsillectomy may be mostly associated with juvenile-associated sore throat, there is a slight advantage to opting for the procedure later on in life. For those adults who suffer from chronic pharyngitis or sore throat, this may be the help they have been looking for. Being a unique study, researchers intend to look a bit further into tonsillectomy for adults later in life.
CPAP Saves Lives of Patients with OSA and COPD
New research is showing that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) could help people who suffer from both obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Both types of patients exhibited benefits of CPAP therapy by expressing relieved symptoms, with decreased risk of death retrospectively.
In reviewing a study that was conducted over a three-year period, and included over 200 patients, it showed OSA and COPD sufferers who used CPAP every night have less than 8 percent risk of dying compared to those who don’t use the treatment. Those who used CPAP occasionally or seldomly still had a slightly higher survival rate than those who never used CPAP therapy. In this case, some use is better than no use at all. Even the researchers were surprised at the fact that any time logged using the treatment at night had a positive result.
The main cause of COPD, both chronic bronchitis and emphysema, in people is cigarette smoking. COPD cause an obstruction of airflow and restricts breathing. In the United States, chronic respiratory diseases, particularly COPD, is the third highest cause of death. In addition, OSA is relatively common. It affects as much as 7 percent of males and 5 percent of women. Obstructive sleep apnea consists of periods of time during sleep when all or part of the upper air path is blocked, even though the body continues to try to breathe.
CPAP is proving to be the best treatment option for those that suffer from OSA. It gives an ongoing flow of air through the airway by means of a mask. This airflow keeps that channel open that would otherwise be blocked. COPD sufferers, along with medications, receive benefits of CPAP therapy as much-needed oxygen is delivered throughout the body and keeps constricted airways open.
Even if CPAP users only gain a slight advantage in survival rate, it’s still worth it if it means more years to a life.
A Childhood Vaccine that Actually Protects Everyone
New studies have revealed that children and infants immunized with the pneumococcal vaccine prevented the spread of pneumonia to adults. The practice of infant pneumonia vaccine against certain bacteria has eliminated 1 out of 10 cases of the elderly being hospitalized with pneumonia.
Pneumonia—an infection of the lungs—is one of the leading causes of hospitalization in the United States. Even adults who do not get vaccinated benefit from infants who are. The logic follows: If the baby does not get sick, family members cannot get sick, and thus they cannot pass it onto others. Some medical experts even believe the indirect protection that the infant pneumonia vaccine confers to adults—also known as herd immunity—is more effective than the pneumococcal vaccine that is designed for adults.
Researchers retrospectively looked at rate of pneumonia vaccinations over the last decade and found four out of 10 cases of children aged two or under being hospitalized for pneumonia were virtually eliminated since the infant pneumonia vaccine mandate. What’s more, the number of adults hospitalized for pneumonia, especially those 65 years of age and older, reduced dramatically.
The bacteria that cause pneumonia can live incognito in a person and the infected person is asymptomatic. Children are often carriers and can pass the bacteria on to older family members, especially to grandparents. The current pneumonia vaccine for children protects against more than 10 types of bacteria that could cause the infection.
The infant pneumonia vaccine initiative was very successful, lowering the cases of ear aches and other types of infections as well. Nevertheless, some experts wonder if by cleaning out this type of bacteria the vaccine is just making room for another pathogen to settle in. More study in this field is required to verify if that can happen. For now, pneumonia hospitalizations are on the decline.
Cancer Alert! Chronic Heartburn May Be an Early Warning Sign of Certain Cancer Types
We usually associate vocal cord and other throat cancers with bad habits, like smoking and alcohol abuse. Chronic heartburn, however, may be a far more accurate forerunner of these types of cancers. What did a recent study reveal to be the best way to protect yourself if you face heartburn issues regularly? Is it medication prescribed by a physician? Believe it or not, antacids may reduce throat cancer risk.
But, haven’t previous studies attempting to connect throat and larynx cancer to acid reflux proven inconclusive? While this is true, those studies were all on a very small scale and didn’t factor in many variables. The study in question is comprehensive, involving many individuals over a longer period of time. Over 1,800 people participated in the study, with approximately two thirds of those individuals serving as the control group.
The participants were surveyed to learn more about factors in their life that could result in various throat cancers, including their personal habits, family and medical histories, and certain demographic information. They also had to be tested for HPV 16 antibodies, since HPV has been linked to throat cancers and could have skewed study results.
In the end, the study revealed a 78 percent greater risk of the predicted forms of cancers for those with chronic heartburn, even if they didn’t use alcohol or cigarettes. On the other hand, those who used antacids to fight their heartburn saw a 41 percent decrease in risk. The antacid users did not take prescription drugs to fight the condition nor were they using homeopathic remedies.
While more research is needed, these initial results seem to indicate antacids may reduce throat cancer risk, particularly among high risk individuals. The study findings may also help doctors identify and screen people who are at higher risk for throat and vocal cord cancers for early intervention.
Which Ear Do You Use When Taking a Call?
Really, it is your brain that makes the decision rather than which ear you favor or which hand you prefer to hold your phone with. The reason is because of the way that your ears connect to your brain.
Believe it or not, the speech center of the brain can be on either side. The fact is, however, for nearly 19 out of 20 of us, this is on the left side. Brain hemispheres coordinate with the opposite side of the body. This accounts for why the majority of people are both right handed and talk with the phone held up to their right ear.
Researchers intend to use this information in a number of ways. For example, for many years, there have been concerns over the connection between cell phone use and brain tumors. Since the majority of people hold cell phones to their right ear, you would expect more brain tumors to be focused on that side. So far, researchers are seeing that the only factor that really connects cell phone use and brain tumors is the sheer amount of phone use. Neck cancer does not seem to be related to cell phone use.
Another phenomenon that researchers are looking into is the fact that people use their right hand as well as their right ear. For a right handed person, this seems to make little sense, since they are tying up their dominant hand, which could be used for note-taking or other activities.
5,000 individuals were a part of a study that involved cell phone use and which side of the brain a person’s speech center was on. The individuals were already undergoing tests to determine the location of their speech center for one reason or another. The results were then compared to a survey in which individuals revealed which ear they usually hold their phone to. In the study, 68% percent of people who favored their right hand also favored their right ear for phone calls. For lefties, 72% stuck to their dominant side. The study didn’t just show that a person wanted to use their dominant hand, but that they wanted to use the ear the correlated with the dominant side of their brain.
The Difficulty in Diagnosing Voice Problems
There are many people who rely on a consistent voice to make a living. Performers need to sound the same on stage, night after night; just as they do in the recording studio, take after take. Voice actors need to sound the same in every episode they record. Television stars have to sound the same from week to week. But the arts aren’t the only jobs that require a consistent voice. Lawyers need to be able to speak convincingly and at an audible volume day after day in court. Teachers need to be heard by their classes. Public speakers also rely on their voice, and the list goes on and on. So what happens when voice issues start to occur? Diagnosing the issue quickly can be very difficult.
The fact is that there are a large number of conditions that can cause voice changes, and not all of those underlying causes are physical. True, diseases, cysts, muscle tension, or nodules may be to blame. It is also possible, however, for the voice issues to be psychological. In fact, anxiety is a frequent cause of vocal changes. So what are the keys to diagnosis?
Often, the combination of an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat specialist) and a therapist will be used to make a faster diagnosis. The ear, nose, and throat doctor will look for physical damage and obstructions to the vocal chords using a stroboscopy, or other tests that measure the acoustics of the vocal chords. The therapist will probe for signs of a psychological cause of the vocal issues.
Individuals who suffer from voice problems generally need a personalized solution due to the sheer variety of potential causes of the problem. A combination of medications, surgery, or therapy may be the solution to your problem, and the key to getting your voice back to where your job needs it to be.