Well today we’re doing one of my favorite segments. It’s time to answer your questions as you ask the doctors. And I’m joined by my very good friend, Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall, Pfizer’s chief medical officer, so thank you.
Thank you very much. Glad you’re here again. So let’s just jump right in. We have a video question from Roslyn about her little girl, so let’s see her question. My name is Roslyn and this I my daughter, Harper. She keeps getting earaches and I just wanted to know why is she getting them and is it gonna lead to hearing loss in the future? I’ve got two grandchildren and so we just been up through this age of young kids and a lot of parents have this concern. So what are the risks of children’s earaches? They are rarely dangerous, but they’re really common. Three out of four children have at least one ear infection by their third birthday.
Really? Yes, many earaches are a complication of the common cold or nasal allergies. And essentially what happens is those conditions block the tube between the middle ear and the back of the throat, fluid accumulates behind the eardrum, inflames the ear. And we know the symptoms ’cause we’ve seen them, right? They’re ear tugging, pulling at their ears, crying, maybe fussy, have difficulty sleeping and sometimes you’ll even see a drainage coming out of their ear. And fever can be associated too, so it’s really important for parents to try and have a child thermometer close by so they can monitor that temperature. They can be very painful and distressing for both the child and the parent. But most of them can be effectively treated especially if the parent sees those signs early, calls the pediatrician right away. Now, sometimes they’re caused by bacteria and if the pediatrician decides that, they may prescribe antibiotics. So I wanna mention how important it is if that’s the case to give your child the right dosage of medicine according to what the doctor has asked you to do and to treat your child for the full duration of treatment for that antibiotic. Should Roslyn be nervous about hearing loss ’cause a lot of times parents are concerned about it gets bad, the kid’s not gonna be able to hear anymore. Well, hearing loss can happen and that’s because of that fluid buildup behind the eardrum. But usually when this resolves with treatment, the hearing returns. So permanent hearing loss is rare and that’s even in kids that have recurrent or repeated ear infections. You said three out of four will have ear infections early on. Is there anything to do to avoid it, at least limit it? There are some things that you can help. First of all, talk to your doctor and make sure that your child is up-to-date on all of their immunizations including the flu and the pneumococcal vaccine. Second, do your best to prevent colds. I know that’s hard, but especially in children under the age of one. So that means lots of hand washing and keeping them away from people who might be infected. And then last but not least, if your baby is bottle fed, hold the head higher than the stomach when you’re feeding them and also don’t lay them down with a bottle so that the formula doesn’t pool in their mouth at the back of their throat. Well thank you Roslyn for your great question and just remember no matter what’s going on with your child, make sure you don’t overreact because if you get hysterical, if you overreact, then it scares the child and now they freak out. So if you can be calm in dealing with them, even if they’re hurting, it can make a big difference in their reaction to whatever’s going on at the time. Now next we have a question from Brandon in our audience who wonders if a warning from his grandmother is supported by science or it just a myth. So Brandon where are you? What’s your question? Hey doctors. My question is, my grandmother used to yell at me for cracking my knuckles. She said it would give me arthritis. Is that true? Cracking your knuckles.
Yes. Is it harmful? Well, actually his grandmother is part right. Some studies suggest that chronic knuckle crackers can have reduced grip strength and swollen hands. But it doesn’t cause arthritis. Let’s talk about arthritis for a minute because it’s very common. There are a number of different types of arthritis, the most common of which are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. When you think of chronic knuckle cracking, most people are thinking about osteoarthritis. So what does that actually look like? It’s inflammation of the joints throughout the body. It most commonly effects the hands, that’s why people think knuckle cracking, but it can also effect the neck, the lower back, the hips, the knees, et cetera. So what are the symptoms of arthritis that you should watch out for? Three main symptoms in any of your joints. Pain, swelling and stiffness. Oh my god. (laughing) Go ahead. Yeah I know, don’t tell you anymore, right? And although knuckle cracking isn’t a risk factor for developing arthritis, there are risk factors. Age, obesity, family history and joint trauma, if you would, that’s caused by overuse, is something that’s a risk factor for developing osteoarthritis. So Brandon, while you may not get arthritis, cracking your knuckles is a bad idea so listen to your grandmother. But there are treatments that are available for arthritis. So if you have any of the symptoms or any of the risk factors that we just talked about, you should talk to your healthcare team and see if there are treatments or preventions that are available for you. It should make a big difference. For more information on osteo and other types of arthritis, you must check out one of Robin and my favorite websites ever and that’s gethealthystayhealthy.com and sign up for the newsletter. Alright, I wanna thank all of my guests today especially Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall. Thank you for being here.