Submitted by Mississippi Valley Surgery Center
Coughing. Red and irritated eyes. A runny nose. If these symptoms or others, including ear, throat, and sinus discomfort keep you from enjoying a full life, you’re not alone. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, nearly 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children chronically suffer from these conditions, which are often exacerbated in the spring by tree pollen, in the summer by grasses, and in the fall by weed pollens.
Dr. Douglas Dvorak, a surgeon at ENT Professional Services in Davenport who specializes in disorders of the ear, nose, and throat, believes that a comprehensive approach that gets to the root causes of chronic conditions is more likely to help patients achieve lasting relief from their symptoms.
“Ear, nose, and throat conditions often have several contributing factors, and because of that a comprehensive approach is helpful,” said Dr. Dvorak.
Outpatient procedures combined with a new, innovative immunotherapy drops help local teen
Quad-City teen Anthony Granato has had ear aches and fluid in his ears since he was an infant.
“It was affecting his hearing and making him miserable,” said his mother, Theresa Granato.
She turned to Dr. Dvorak to have tubes placed in his ears to address the problem. Ear tubes are tiny cylinders inserted into the eardrum to allow air into the middle ear.
At the same time Anthony had his ear tube procedure, he had an adenoidectomy (removal of his adenoids, which is lymphoid tissue behind the nose) because of nasal obstruction. Inflamed adenoids can also cause sinus and ear infections.
Dr. Dvorak completed both the ear tube procedure and the adenoidectomy at the area’s leading outpatient facility — the Mississippi Valley Surgery Center at 3400 Dexter Court in Davenport.
Because of the Center’s quality of care, Dr. Dvorak chooses to perform many of his outpatient procedures at the Surgery Center.
“The Mississippi Valley Surgery Center has state-of-the-art equipment and the whole team is very efficient,” said Dr. Dvorak. “That makes the experience more comforting for the patient.”
While the tubes offered some relief, Anthony experienced a rare complication — the hole where the tube was placed in his right ear drum did not close.
Theresa returned to Dr. Dvorak and the Mississippi Valley Surgery Center for more help. To repair the hole in Anthony’s eardrum, Dr. Dvorak performed a tympanoplasty — the reconstruction of the eardrum or the small bones of the middle ear.
Turning to the latest innovation: sublingual immunotherapy
After the outpatient procedures, the final step in Anthony’s comprehensive care was to undergo allergy testing to find the underlying cause for his persistent ear issues. The test results showed that Anthony was allergic to 11 environmental allergens.
“When people think of allergies, sneezing, a runny nose, and itchy eyes typically come to mind. Many people don’t realize that ears can be affected by allergies, too,” said Dr. Dvorak. “If the eustachian tube connecting to the middle ear is clogged with mucus or its opening is blocked by allergy swelling, then pressure and fluid can build up. This gives us the sensation of having to ‘pop’ our ears frequently, and can result in diminished hearing.”
Dr. Dvorak suggested sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) to treat Anthony’s allergies. SLIT is similar to allergy shots, but without the needles.
“With sublingual immunotherapy, patients place drops under their tongue that contains purified extracts of the offending allergens,” said Dr. Dvorak. “The drops are administered at home. We’re the only office in the area currently offering this treatment.”
SLIT delivers a slowly increasing dose of antigen that, over time, builds tolerance to the substances that cause allergic symptoms.
For Theresa, news of this new treatment option for Anthony was music to her ears.
“When I heard about the drops and that Anthony could administer them himself, I said ‘yes’ immediately,” she said. “My daughter has been doing immunotherapy with shots for a few years with a local allergist, and it is very time consuming. The tongue drops are much more efficient and painless.”
Leading a fuller life
Through successful outpatient surgeries and use of SLIT for nearly 10 months, Anthony is leading a fuller life.
“He’s able to do more! For example, when he used to mow the lawn he would cough and have lots of allergy symptoms. He’d have to wear a mask,” said Theresa. “This summer he didn’t have to do that anymore!”
Anthony will continue using the drops for three to five years. When symptoms are fully resolved for at least six months, Dr. Dvorak will remove his ear tube to confirm the immunotherapy helped address the fluid in his ear. If it has, Anthony will not need a new tube inserted.
“The sublingual drops — a relatively simple and easy process for the patient — is a great solution to alleviate allergies which are often the underlying cause of many ear, nose and throat issues,” said Dr. Dvorak. “Of course, we also offer allergy shots for those who prefer that approach.”
In addition to working with patients experiencing ear issues, Dr. Dvorak frequently sees patients with sinusitis and nasal polyps. He has also incorporated allergy skin testing into comprehensive management for these patients, utilizing immunotherapy when needed. Use of immunotherapy in some patients decreases the need for surgical procedures.
To learn more about Dr. Dvorak and ENT Professional Services, call 563-359-1646, or visit www.entprofessional.com.
To learn more about the Mississippi Valley Surgery Center, go to www.mvhealth.net and visit Facebook at facebook.com/MississippiValleySurgeryCenter.