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Ask Dr. Gott 6/27
Chronic ear infections might not require surgery
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    DEAR DR. GOTT: My child suffers from constant ear infections, and we have been told he may require surgery to place tubes in his ears. I don't want to do this but hate to see him in so much pain. Are there any nonsurgical options?
    DEAR READER: While I don't know the reason for your child's repeated ear infections, I will fill you in on one nonsurgical item available on the market. In 2005, the Food and Drug Administration approved the EarPopper, a noninvasive, non-drug prescription device for treating fluid in the middle ear, Eustachian-tube dysfunction, otitis media, pain from travel in an airplane, hearing loss, and fullness from sinus conditions and colds.
    Popping of the ears is common and is nature's way of relieving pressure imbalances of the middle ear. When the natural method doesn't work, pressure in the middle ear becomes higher or lower than in the outer. Fluid can accumulate, and hearing loss and pain can result. The purpose of the EarPopper is to equalize pressure in the middle ear by opening the Eustachian tube. This is done by directing a steady but controlled stream of air through the nose. The simple act of swallowing directs air into the Eustachian tube and relieves the imbalance of pressure; pain is gone almost immediately. The popping sound nature makes will be duplicated during use of the EarPopper and simply indicates successful treatment.
    I urge you to speak with your son's ear-nose-and-throat specialist about this option because it is not appropriate for all ear conditions and patients. Only he or she will know whether it is appropriate for your son.
    Because all insurances vary, I cannot guess whether the product is covered under your plan. I stress this because the unit is expensive. A home kit costs approximately $200, while a professional unit for a physician's office is $300. Do your homework if you are interested in this option. All that is required is for your physician to write EarPopper on a prescription pad that you present to your local pharmacy. If the unit isn't in stock, it will be ordered for you. Or, if you prefer, ask your physician or an ENT specialist if he or she has a professional unit in the office, where the simple service can be provided.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Ear Infections and Disorders."

    DEAR DR. GOTT: Ever since my son had hemorrhoid surgery two years ago, he has constantly experienced irritation when eating any food containing sugar or spices. Could this be an allergy or something needing a repair job? He's been to several doctors, but they don't have much of an answer for him.
    DEAR READER: I am not sure whether the irritation you mention refers to his anus or abdomen, or whether he has indigestion. I'll go with evacuation. Spicy foods can certainly be difficult to digest and expel. Perhaps sugar has the same effect on him. In any case, I would simply recommend he avoid the irritants.
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