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your family's health... with Dr Sarah Brewer.

Byline: DR SARAH BREWER

Q AS a toddler, my five-year old son suffered frequent ear infections and was told he might suffer some deafness when he was older. His teacher says that he sometimes seems to have difficulty hearing in class and he has been sitting closer and closer to the TV. Can anything be done to help?

AINFANTS and children with recurrent middle ear infections (otitis media) can develop glue ear, due to a build up of thick secretions in the middle ear. Contact your doctor straight away so your son can have his hearing tested as soon as possible. In mild cases, some decongestant drops help to open up the Eustachian tubes so that secretions can drain into the back of the throat. In more severe cases, surgical insertion of tiny tubes into the eardrum equalises pressure across the ear drum and help secretions drain away, but their effectiveness is in doubt. Mucus dispersion can also be boosted by a supplement containing N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) - an amino acid. It is often helpful in glue ear and is available from health food stores.

QMY daughter has just had her belly button pierced. What advice should I give her about how to prevent infection while this heals over?

ATHE usual procedure is to clean the stud at least twice a day with surgical spirit, or dilute hydrogen peroxide, for six weeks after insertion. The ring/stud usually needs to be turned regularly too. If the area starts to become red, swollen, inflamed and throbbing seek medical advice immediately as antibiotic treatment may be needed.

QI HAVE a sweet tooth and use saccharin tablets in tea and coffee. My daughter, who is a nurse, says this isn't a good idea. What else can I use?

ASACCHARIN is up to 400 times sweeter than the same weight of sugar and can help you cut back on sugar intake. It is advisable not to consume too much of any artificial sweeteners, however. Try to gradually reduce your intake of these - adding extra semi-skimmed milk will help to provide some sweetness and you'll gradually get used to less sweet beverages.

Sweet foods such as dried apricots or raisins will also help.

Sarah Brewer is a GP and health writer. Send your problems to Vital, One Central Quay, Glasgow G3 8DA or email vital@dailyrecord.co.uk. Sorry, Sarah cannot reply personally.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 17, 2001
Words:397
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