Posts for category: Healthcare
Breaking News... Tonight at 10 Talk to Your Doctor About Adding 15 Years to Your Life!
We are all excited about new technologies in medicine. The press loves to create a stir over the latest chemotherapy, immune modulator, and surgical procedure. Often, though not always, these highly touted “advances” don’t pan out. It doesn’t mean they are necessarily bad ideas or the wrong approach. But, often a well-meaning journalist sees a report about something that may be groundbreaking. By the time it hits the airways, or the paper, or the Internet at preliminary report becomes the latest, greatest technique that will cure us all. But, using information from the popular press to help decide your healthcare carries risks.
It takes time, confirmation, and reconfirmation before an advance is seen as truly revolutionary. In an attempt to inform the public, the need for news 24/7/365 often bypasses this time-consuming and confirmatory process. Research is not sexy, but it is necessary to make sure we are treating you or your family with proven therapies, not just the fad of the moment.
Science is a messy business. It is long, arduous, and filled with misdirection and rediscovery. Every researcher wants to find the big truth and turn over the current thinking. They all want to make a difference and come up with new ideas and thinking to change the world. However, most of the time, one person in the lab doesn’t immediately change the world. It is the accumulated wisdom of many researchers, may labs, in collaboration that comes up with progress.
Be careful about making medical decisions from the evening new, Facebook®, or Twitter®. Inform yourself and ask your doctor about what is right for you. Use information to be healthy, but take it with a grain of salt (or not if you are on a low salt diet.)
The jury is still out about the use of electronic nicotine delivery systems. Their manufacturers have proposed them as a “safe” alternative to tobacco smoke. But are they? A recent review of the scientific and medical literature on the subject (Palazzolo DL (2013) Electronic cigarettes and vaping: a new challenge in clinical medicine and public health. A literature review. Front. Public Health 1:56. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2013.00056) didn’t reveal much. There is no evidence yet of harm reduction. There definitely is no sign that they decrease cigarette smoking or increase quit rates.
We don’t even know what happens to the lungs when this vapor is inhaled. Do the flavorings cause harm, or not? What is the level of inhaled nicotine relative to cigarettes? Is second hand vapor better or worse than second hand smoke? All of these questions remain to be answered. And likely over time they will be.
I hope that vaping does turn out to be a safe alternative to tobacco smoking. But, in the long run, neither is your best bet. As hard as it may be to quit, your life and health improve in the absence of nicotine.
Mark T. Brown, MD, FACS
Image from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1869)
Q Tips are bad!
Somebody finally confirmed what ENT’s and audiologists have been telling you all along. Quit cleaning your ears. That wax is not “dirty” but is important to your ear canal skin. It helps the ear canal stay healthy, repels bacterial invaders, and filters our dust and dirt that might otherwise get stuck in there. I know, it feels REALLY good. But you are more likely to cause a problem than solve one with a Q-Tip (apologies to Johnson and Johnson).
Check out the USA Today article here. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2017/01/05/now-hear-stop-cleaning-your-ears/96193598/
Mark Brown, MD, FACS
Many kids get ear infections, especially in the winter with cold and flu season. A small percentage of kids don’t just get one or two, though. They get a lot. Or they have fluid behind the ear drum that won’t go away. That is when your pediatrician sends you to a place like Great Hills ENT to talk about tubes.
Let’s talk about ears before we start to plan surgery though. The middle ear is the space behind the ear drum. It should connect up to the back of the nose through the Eustachian tube. The purpose of this tube is to drain fluid from behind the ear drum and allow air to fill that space. When you yawn and swallow the throat muscles pull open the end of the Eustachian tube and air moves in and out of the space behind the ear. We call this equalizing because the air pressure in the middle ear should match the atmosphere. Think of taking off on a plane. As the plane rises the air pressure drops and you have to “pop” you ears to equalize them.
Kids who are sick have a lot of swelling in that tiny little tube so it doesn’t open and close well. The pressure isn’t equalized and the fluid doesn’t drain. Bacteria love to grow in the fluid. Viola! Ear infection.
Tubes work by acting in the place of the Eustachian tube, except that they connect the middle ear to the outside world through the ear drum, not behind from the throat. They keep a little hole open that allows the air pressure to stay equal to the astmosphere. No fluid, no infection. Viola!
Side benefit, kids with tubes who don’t have fluid behind the ear drum hear better – critical for language development and success in school. Also, if there does happen to be an ear infection, antibiotic ear drops are usually all you need. No more yucky oral medicines and all of the problems that come with them.
The surgery, yes it is surgery, can be done on adults in the office. Most kids squirm too much for us to be able place tubes while they are awake. So the 5 minute (you read that right FIVE MINUTE) procedure is done in the OR with them breathing a little gas. Home after that in 15 to 20 minutes. The next day you are back on your usual schedule. Except you might not have to see your pediatrician so often for ear infections.
Bottom line: when a kid needs tubes they are great. Really.
Mark T. Brown, MD, FACS
Dr. Mark Brown is an Otolaryngologist (Ear, Nose and Throat) specialist at Great Hills ENT in Austin, TX. Dr. Brown is Board Certified in both Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery as well as Sleep Medicine. Great Hills ENT serves the greater Austin area including Georgetown, Cedar Park, Lago Vista, Jonestown, Steiner Ranch, Lakeway, Spicewood and Point Venture. We are proud to provide excellent care to our patients for general Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) services, hearing loss, dizziness/vertigo and sleep disorders.
Austin winters are relatively mild compared to some areas of the country. That being said, we are occasionally hit with a big northern cold front that brings a chill to the air and the need to turn on the heat. When the moisture in the air decreases, your nose, which acts as a humidifier, may dry out. When these tissues dry, fragile capillary walls may break and a nosebleed occurs.
A nosebleed may simply be an annoying interruption to your day; however, it can become a larger intrusion that could potentially be life-threatening if it is severe or won’t stop. In some rare cases, it can be a sign of a bigger problem (such as high blood pressure, a clotting disorder, or nasal tumor, to name a few).
For a simple nosebleed, squeeze the front of the nose for five minutes (without checking to see if it stops). Usually, holding pressure will stop most nosebleeds. Spraying a nasal decongestant (such as afrin) will help the vessels in the nose constrict. Do not lean your head back (the blood will just go down the back of the throat) or stick anything up it, as tissues and cotton may get stuck. If the bleeding is severe, won’t stop, or you feel light headed, you should go the Emergency Room.
To prevent the nasal tissues from drying out, you may use some Vaseline in the front of the nose to keep it moist, spray nasal saline into the nose, or use a humidifier. If your nosebleeds are severe or recurrent, make an appointment with one of our providers.
Great Hills ENT serves the greater Austin area including Georgetown, Cedar Park, Lago Vista, Jonestown, Steiner Ranch, Lakeway, Spicewood and Point Venture. We are proud to provide excellent care to our patients for general Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) services, hearing loss, dizziness/vertigo and sleep disorders.