I was recently invited to discuss Chronic Ear Infections with Jennifer Lynch of WGME-TV 13 in Portland, Maine. Here’s a transcript of that interview:
Lynch: Ear infections can be brutal at whatever age. This morning we are talking about, how to help people who continually have fluid in their ears, and how to stop the misery. Dr. David Hurst wrote a book Freedom from Chronic Ear Infections: The Role of Allergies and the Way to a Cure. He joins us this morning to tell us more about who to become your own advocate or an advocate for your child. Good morning doctor! Thank you so much for joining us.
Dr. David Hurst: Thanks for inviting me, Jess. What happens is, well, you know how you go over the hill in a car and your ears clog up and you need to swallow and pop your ears? Normally, you swallow and let some air come up this tube to relieve the pressure in your middle ear and if you can’t the ear aches. So some children go on and have a peculiar infection that needs to be treated. But the ones that I’m discussing are the ones that have recurrent ear infections, and the fluid just doesn’t clear for months.
Lynch: Often you see tubes going into ears.
Hurst: Yes, there are two reasons to put in tubes. One, again, is for the child who has one infection after another, but the other is for a child who can’t clear the ears.
Because this is what you called the ear and the ear canal; but the middle ear, where the fluid collects, the only way to drain it is to get some air up into this. So, if they can’t do that they put a tube in here so that air can come in from here and relieve that pressure. That solves 80% of the problems. But 20% of the children, or sometimes adults, continue to have fluid that persists and persists, and those are the ones that I’ve been interested in.
Lynch: And what is the role of allergies in this?
Dr. David Hurst: Well there are only two things that will clog up this tube. One is adenoids in children and that will clog it up but the other thing and especially in older children or adults is allergies; and just as allergies can swell up your nose, so you can’t breathe through your nose, this tube is only 2 mm and it’s easy to clog up with allergies.
Lynch: And you say this is new science, not all doctors agree with you.
Dr. David Hurst: It’s new because we haven’t had the “science science”. Generally, there’s two categories of physicians that take of care of ear disease. There’s Ear, Nose, and Throat physicians and they aren’t really well versed in allergy. And there’s the Allergist and they’re not well versed in middle ear disease. So some of us are sort of both. And we put together the science that have proven that just as allergies can cause your nose to get stuffing called Sinusitis or sometimes it’s lungs Asthma, allergies can cause middle ear disease?
Lynch: How do you figure out what you are allergic to?
Dr. David Hurst: Well, part of that’s in the book. There’s a whole chapter on and how to diagnose the allergies, and which people, children or adults should be concerned. But basically you can diagnose it by using skin test or blood test.
Lynch: How do you become an advocate for yourself or your child?
Dr. David Hurst: Well, you have to be because the general physician taking care of you hasn’t thought about ear disease being caused by allergies and again that’s why I wrote the book. You have to ask the questions. You have to find physicians who are interested in this and seek that out.
Lynch: It sounds like you have to do research on your own.
Dr. David Hurst: Oh yes, a lot of that’s on my webpage but yes, that’s why I wrote the book.
Lynch: And you have some testimonials in here. What’s kind of the some of the most dramatic cases that you’ve seen?
Dr. David Hurst: Well, I have a child who came to me when he was 8 years old; he’d already had 8 sets of tubes. I was privileged to put in the ninth (set of tubes) and he also had allergies. That’s what connected the dots for me. And as I worked at it, he continued to improve. And as long as we treated his allergies, he stayed well, and as I’ve published (treated) hundreds of patients of this and if they treat the allergies, they all resolved. And if you don’t treat the allergies, they continue to have their ear infection.
Lynch: So, can you just take allergy medicine?
Dr. David Hurst: Unfortunately, no. Antihistamines are terrific for Sinusitis and inhale steroids for sinus disease and lungs disease, but they don’t get into the middle ear for some reason. So the only option you have is to either be miserable, mask your symptoms with antihistamines or nasal steroids, which certainly have a role, or modify your immune system so you stop making antibiotics to dust and cats and molds and the reduce the swelling and congestion that causes the middle ear fluid to form.
Lynch: Obviously, this is a very important topic. Four million children a year in the United States suffer from this. So, it can be extremely painful. Where can we get your book?
Lynch: And what’s the webpage there?
Dr. David Hurst: earallergy.com.
Lynch: Okay, Dr. David Hurst, thank you so much for joining us this morning and shining a light on ear infections here, chronic ear infections.
Dr. David Hurst: Thank you so much for having me.
Video Post – I’d been in practice about five or six years when a child came to me after already having EIGHT sets of tubes in his ears. See the video, below, about why allergies and chronic ear infections.