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6/10/20 in Blog Posts
Why You Should Not Delay Medical Care for your ENT and Allergy Issues
By Hollin Calloway, MD
A recent study from the New England Journal of Medicine out of Kaiser in Northern California, which is a large integrated healthcare HMO in the region, showed a significant decrease in patients coming into the hospital with an acute myocardial infarction, or what we know as a heart attack, during late March and April of 2020 (ref 1). This is very concerning, because it is unlikely that the number of people suffering from a heart attack during this time period actually decreased – instead they did not seek care in time. This is an extreme, possibly life-threatening example, but it represents a reason why we should not delay medical care during this COVID-19 pandemic. Especially now that the incidence of the disease is slowly decreasing in the New York and New Jersey areas, it is very important that people not delay medical care. ENT and Allergy Associates, LLP, opened our doors back up to in-clinic patient visits in New York & New Jersey on April 27. We have been taking extreme safety precautions and social distancing to prevent the spread and to make sure it is very safe for all of our patients and staff to be in our offices. All staff and patients are wearing face coverings, temperatures are being checked, patients are questioned for recent exposure, surfaces and clinic rooms are being cleaned regularly, and chairs are spaced out in our waiting room. We are seeing fewer patients per hour than usual in order to keep our waiting rooms from over crowding.
Patients are still suffering from acute onset hearing loss, which can be very treatable if you are seen right away. It is imperative that you do not delay the diagnosis of sudden onset hearing loss because delaying the treatment can mean never getting the hearing back. If this is you, make sure that when you call for your appointment you also ask to get a hearing test. If you start to notice an audible pulsation sound in one of your ears, which we call pulsatile tinnitus, that also is not something that you should sit around with for a long time without seeing a physician, as it could indicate a vascular problem, a benign tumor in the ear, or a structural problem in your temporal bone.
Patients are still having acute asthma attacks, rashes, ear infections and sinus pain and problems smelling. Your allergist and immunologists are available for asthma treatments. Your difficulty smelling may have started from a COVID infection many weeks ago, maybe even an asymptomatic one, but if it continues to persist this could actually be caused by nasal polyps, which need to be diagnosed and treated. A persistent sinus infection that is not properly treated can continue to get worse, and you need a physical exam to actually determine whether your sinus symptoms are a bacterial infection, possibly a viral infection, or just allergies. Though we are still providing telemedicine services for those who need it, it is very difficult to discern between these diagnoses without a physical exam in clinic. We are in the midst of the spring allergy season now, and we are providing testing and immunotherapy for those who are suffering.
Ear infections are difficult to treat over telemedicine because there is a big difference between an external ear infection (or swimmer’s ear) or a middle ear infection, which is often associated with a sinus infection or cold. The treatments for these conditions – antibiotic eardrops vs oral antibiotics, are very different, and it’s not good to unnecessarily take antibiotics as this can cause resistant and gastrointestinal symptoms. That ear pain you have could actually just be temporomandibular joint dysfunction, ear wax impaction, or just some noninfected fluid in the ear, or just eustachian tube dysfunction. We are here to physically look into your ear and explain what is happening. If you are suffering from dizziness, we are equipped here to give you a full evaluation, including a hearing test if needed, and help figure out what is causing it. Our audiologists are available in almost all of our locations now, most days of the week.
Finally, most of our surgery centers are starting to open up in the next few weeks. They are also taking extra precautions, testing patients and healthcare workers for the virus. The ENTA physicians will be available to resume sinus surgeries, septoplasties, rhinoplasties, ear tube placements, tonsillectomies and adenoidectomies, as well as all of the other procedures we offer. I am also offering Botox injections, dermal fillers, and chemical peels in my Hoboken office. If you had been waiting to have a surgery right before the pandemic hit, call your local ENTA office to discuss scheduling it.