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Ear, nose, throat infections common for tots

Kids ENT Health Month is February and its purpose is to help raise awareness about common problems that children encounter in the ear, nose and throat.

Dr. Dale B. Smith of the Allergy Ear Nose & Throat Institute has been working with children in his Lawton practice for 29 years. He said the most pressing issue for children's health is their ears, particularly children younger than age 5 or 6.

"Literally, there are tens of millions of visits to the doctor a year for ear infections," Smith said. "Ear infections are probably the most common thing children seek help for from a pediatrician. The issue is the eustachian tube. You recognize the outer ear canal. You recognize the ear drum. You recognize the middle ear bones and then ventilating the middle ear bones is the eustachian tube. The eustachian tube is the organ that is affected in children early on. There are five major reasons why this eustachian tube does not work."

The No. 1 reason is age.

"An adult eustachian tube is very steep, so it has a tendency to drain," Smith said. "The eustachian tube drains very much like a gutter coming off a house. So if the gutter goes straight down, in a 5-inch rain like we had the other night, it's going to drain. But if that gutter or eustachian tube were to go out to the road and had a gradual slope on it, it wouldn't pull the water off as easy. It's actually draining the middle ear."

The Lawton Constitution

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