Friday, July 15, 2016

Treatment and Prevention of Swimmer's Ear

What is Swimmer’s Ear?
It’s that time of year again, for swimming at pool parties and taking trips to the lake.  With swimming sometimes comes “swimmer’s ear”, or otitis externa.  Swimmer’s ear is an infection inside the ear canal that is caused by bacteria commonly found in the water and soil.  Swimming can cause excess moisture to remain in the ear, leading to the infection- thus the name swimmer’s ear.  Other causes include heavy sweating, humid weather or scratches inside the ear canal.
Under normal circumstances, the ear produces a waxy substance, called cerumen, which helps repel water from lingering inside the ear and also prevents bacteria from growing inside the ear canal.  Infection results if the ear’s natural defenses aren’t enough to prevent bacterial growth. 

What are the Symptoms?
Symptoms can range from mild to moderate to severe.  Mild symptoms include itching inside of the ear, redness, discomfort, or clear odorless fluid draining from the ear.  Moderate symptoms include muffled hearing, pus discharging from the ear, and a feeling of fullness inside of the ear.  A severe case of swimmer’s ear may cause a fever, swelling in the lymph nodes of the neck, and severe pain that may radiate to the face and neck.

How is it Treated?
It is important to treat swimmer’s ear as soon as possible.  If the infection is not properly treated, it may lead to more serious complications like long-term infection, temporary hearing loss, long-term damage to the bone and cartilage inside of the ear, or a deep tissue infection called cellulitis.  It is time to see a doctor if there is no improvement of symptoms after one week, if symptoms worsen, if the person feels dizzy, or if pain is not controlled with over-the-counter medications.  A doctor can diagnose swimmer’s ear based on the symptoms and examination of the ear.  The infection can be treated with prescription ear drops that will help reduce inflammation, fight bacteria, and help restore the ear’s normal condition.

How to Prevent Swimmer’s Ear
Over–the-counter ear drops like Swim-Ear® can be used to prevent swimmer’s ear if they are used after exposure to water.  Over-the-counter pain relievers, like ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen, may also be used to reduce any pain.
Enjoy your swimming this summer, but be sure to try and prevent swimmer’s ear.  As always, Topeka Pharmacy is here to help you answer your health questions and concerns!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Eating Your Way to a Brighter Smile

Most of us know that some foods are not good for our teeth. Our teeth are protected by a tough shell called enamel.  Acidic foods erode the enamel, making cavities form in the teeth more easily.   Sugars and starchy foods feed the invisible layer of bacterial plaque which is constantly forming in the mouth. The bacterial plaque then produces acid, which causes cavities to form.
Foods which harm tooth enamel:
  • POP & DIET POP- All kinds (except root beer) contain a lot of citric acid, proven to erode tooth enamel.
  • SPORTS DRINKS and ENERGY DRINKS also contain a lot of citric acid.
  • ORANCE JUICE AND LEMONADE are naturally acidic & will harm tooth enamel.
  • ALCOHOL is acidic and also dries the mouth, decreasing saliva production.
  • CANDY & BAKED GOODS contain sugar which feeds the bacterial plaque, producing acid.
  • CRACKERS, CHIPS and other bread products tend to get stuck between teeth, also feeding the plaque and producing acid.

But did you know that some foods are really good for the teeth and help protect the tooth enamel from decay?  These foods increase saliva production, wash away or neutralize the acid and brush away the plaque.
Foods that protect tooth enamel:
  • CRUNCHY, HIGH FIBER FOODS like apples, celery, carrots or almonds help “brush” away the layer of plaque on the teeth. Chewing crunchy foods increases the saliva, which neutralizes & washes away acid.
  • DAIRY PRODUCTS like milk and yogurt add calcium and vitamin D to keep teeth healthy.
  • CHEESE, more than any other dairy food, neutralizes acid and protects tooth enamel.
  • DARK CHOCOLATE (70% cocoa) also has been found to be protective of tooth enamel!
  • SUGARLESS GUM increases saliva when chewed.  Also, the ingredient Xylitol® inhibits the growth of the bacterial plaque.

Best practices for healthy teeth:
  1. Brush your teeth twice daily. Floss every day.
  2. Rinse your mouth with water after eating to wash away sugar and acid.
  3. Drink water or milk instead of the acidic drinks listed above.
  4. Eat crunchy fruits and vegetables every day, along with a balanced diet.
  5. Choose a little cheese or dark chocolate for snacks rather than sweets.