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There’s always a lot to do when preparing for kids to start back to school: get school supplies, purchase new clothes and shoes, attend any back-to-school functions, and perhaps even get a physical. But there’s something else that should be on that to-do list: a back-to-school eye exam.

Many parents overlook it, but a comprehensive eye exam before going back to school is just as important as that annual physical. While kids may experience no significant eye issues or problems over the summer months, their eyes are still changing. In fact, from the ages of six to 18, a child’s vision changes frequently, and routine eye exams can help prevent any potential problems that arise. A few of the common issues that can arise in school-aged children include nearsightedness (which is commonly developed in children around the age of six or seven and can seriously worsen around the ages of 11 to 13), farsightedness, misaligned eyes, and lazy eye. Issues such as these going undetected can lead to daily hindrances for kids, including eye strain, headaches, and blurred vision. These issues aren’t just distracting, but they can also lead to all sorts of learning and behavioral problems at school because vision takes a prominent role in classroom learning. Studies show that during the first 12 years of a child’s life, 80% of their learning is visual.

Oftentimes, parents have the false assumption that the vision screenings performed at school are effective in detecting vision problems—thus thinking a trip to the eye doctor’s office is unnecessary—but that’s actually not the case. The types of screenings typically performed at school only look at distance vision and visual sharpness and they typically miss most types of vision problems. Common symptoms to look out for if a child is experiencing an eye issue is a tendency to cover one eye, frequent headaches, holding reading material to close to the face, and frequent blinking/eye rubbing. It’s important for parents to watch for symptoms such as these because often kids don’t understand they have a problem or don’t know how to explain it.

Eye exams aren’t only for when something is wrong. They are an important part of a child’s well-being, and they should always be on the back-to-school to-do list. Send your child back to school with better vision. Give us a call today.

The post Go Back to School with Better Vision appeared first on Premier Medical Group | Eye & ENT Specialists.

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According to the Vision Council of America, approximately 75% of adults in the United States wear some sort of vision correction. More than half of those (about 64%) wear glasses. If you’re one of the millions of Americans wearing glasses or contacts and are tired of them, you might have an opportunity to change that with LASIK.

LASIK (an abbreviation for laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis) is refractive eye surgery. Refractive eye surgery is a type of surgery that corrects common vision issues like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, and it typically allows the patient to achieve 20/20 vision or better. That means no more dependence on glasses or contacts (though some patients still eventually have to wear glasses to drive at night or read when they get older).

First approved by the FDA in 1998, LASIK typically includes the doctor using a laser to reshape the cornea beneath the surface. Typically, the surgeon manufacturers a superficial cornea flap, and the flap is folded back and the laser is applied to the underlying layers of the cornea. Variations of LASIK are also done in which no flap is used at all. The flapless method of LASIK requires no cut to be made to the cornea, and instead a layer of the cornea (called the epithelial layer) is removed. The type of LASIK needed can be dependent on the specific type of eye problem being experienced by the patient, and that’s something an eye surgeon can talk through with you during a consultation.

LASIK is an outpatient surgery, and the entire process can typically be done in less than 10 minutes. Not only is the surgery quick and painless (most patients only feel slight pressure, but no pain), but patients typically heal quickly as well. Functional vision usually returns within hours after surgery—no stitches or eye patches required—so most patients are right back to work and their usual activities by the very next day. And most (95%) post-LASIK patients report visual acuity of at least 20/40 with nearly as many achieving 20/20 or better. In addition, LASIK can help improve peripheral vision and nighttime vision as well.

With such a reduced risk of complication and a quick recovery time, why not look into LASIK? Don’t continue to wear glasses or contacts (and spend hundreds of dollars on them a year) if you don’t have to. Say goodbye to your dependence on glasses. Give us a call today to schedule a consultation with a member of our experienced team of doctors and find out if LASIK surgery is the right answer for you.

The post Is LASIK Surgery Right For You? appeared first on Premier Medical Group | Eye & ENT Specialists.

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According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, approximately 20 percent of Americans—that’s 48 million people—report some degree of hearing loss. In fact, hearing loss is the third most common physical condition Americans face, coming in behind arthritis and heart disease.

While most people think solely about senior citizens when it comes to loss—those age 60 and up do experience the greatest amount of hearing loss—it can actually happen to anyone at any age. Even children are at risk: 15 percent of school-age children (ages 6-19) have some degree of hearing loss.

Hearing loss can happen gradually or suddenly, and there are four degrees of it: mild, moderate, severe, and profound. Regardless of the degree of loss, it greatly affects one’s life in ways you don’t think about. For example, even mild hearing loss affects someone’s ability to carry on a normal conversation. Certain sounds of speech—such as consonant sounds like “f” and “th” or “k” and “p” can be difficult to distinguish between for someone with mild hearing loss. If the room has bad acoustics, loud background noise, or the person speaking is talking softly, and it can make it even harder for someone with hearing loss to carry on a conversation.

The most common causes of hearing loss in adults are aging and noise. Because hearing loss is an invisible condition, it can sometimes be hard to notice the symptoms, which include listening to television or radio at a high volume, trouble understanding speech, asking people to repeat themselves frequently. While there is no cure for many hearing disorders, it’s not something that has to just be dealt with. It may just mean it’s time for hearing aids. According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, approximately 28.8 million adults in the United States (age 20-69) could benefit from wearing hearing aids. Of that number, less than 16 percent have actually used them. There are a variety of styles of hearing aids—some go behind the ear, some in the ear, and others actually in the ear canal—and they can greatly help someone with mild to moderate hearing loss.

If you or someone you know are experiencing the signs or symptoms of hearing loss, a hearing test should be done to determine just how much hearing loss is being experienced. A hearing test can also determine the type of hearing loss as well.

At Premier Medical, we understand that living with hearing loss affects so much more than just your hearing—it can hinder daily conversations and interactions. Give us a call today to schedule a hearing test with one of our experienced audiologists. Even if you aren’t quite ready for hearing aids, we can talk through potential options that work best for you to improve your quality of life.

The post The Affects of Hearing Loss appeared first on Premier Medical Group | Eye & ENT Specialists.

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With the arrival of springtime comes beautiful sunshine, warm weather, and numerous opportunities to be outdoors. But once spring has sprung that also means another, more dreaded aspect of the season: allergies.

Allergies are one of the nation’s most common diseases as they plague millions of Americans. In fact, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, nasal allergies affect approximately 50 million people in the United States. They affect approximately 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children. Furthermore, allergies are the 6 th leading cause of chronic
illness and account for more than $18 billion spent each year.

Some of the most common allergy triggers include tree, grass and weed pollen, mold spores, dust mites, cockroaches, and pet dander. While there is no cure for allergies, there are ways to try to prevent them. Typically these allergens lead to sneezing, congestion, itchiness of the eyes, ears, and nose, watery eyes, coughing, and runny nose.

While allergies can never be cured, you can try to prevent them. Here are four simple strategies to alleviate the symptoms.

Get an allergy test

Knowing what you’re allergic too is critical in figuring out how to avoid the side effects. The best way to determine that: an allergy test. There are two types of allergy tests that can be done, a blood test and a skin test. Once you determine the exact cause of your allergies, it will be much easier to avoid—or at least manage—them.

Avoid the allergens if possible

It’s not always easy—or even feasible—to avoid the items that cause allergies, but it’s definitely best to try to avoid them as much as possible. Before you go outside, check out the pollen count. The early morning (between the hours of 5 am and 10 am) is typically the time for the highest pollen counts of the day, so change up your schedule if possible to avoid the outdoors during that timeframe. And while the weather may be beautiful, be sure to keep windows and doors closed, both at home and in the car.

Keep the house clean

Indoor air pollution can be even harsher than outdoor pollution—and that’s only amplified as we tend to spend most of our time indoors. Pay attention to the areas where allergens can thrive. Leave shoes at the door before coming inside as they track in allergens. Get rid of carpet if at all possible as all sorts of allergens can hide in the carpet. Vacuum frequently, and be sure to use a vacuum with a HEPA filter. Change your indoor air filter as needed, and run the air conditioner instead of opening windows. Wash bedding weekly. Clean upholstered furniture often as those fabrics can have a build up of animal dander, skin cells, and dust. Wash kids toys—especially stuffed animals—in hot water routinely as they are a breeding ground for dust mites.

Don’t sleep with your pet

They may be significant members of the family, but when it comes to trying to avoid allergens, it’s essential to keep furry friends out of the bed. Cats and dogs’ fur are full of all sorts of allergens.

There’s no reason you should have to suffer because of allergies. If avoiding allergens isn’t working for you, it may be time to talk to an ENT. Give us a call today to discuss potential treatment options that would work best for you and help you avoid all that springtime has to offer.

The post How Can You Prevent Allergies? appeared first on Premier Medical Group | Eye & ENT Specialists.

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Who doesn’t want youthful vision? The unfortunate part is that as we age, our vision slowly worsens. A big part of the loss of youthful vision is developing cataracts. Cataracts occur when the eye’s natural lens gets cloudy. The clouding blocks light and causes vision to gradually blur, thereby diminishing vision. It’s essentially like trying to look at something through a piece of wax paper. Cataracts can also cause double vision, sensitivity to light and the inability to see bright colors.

Cataracts are incredibly common. Anyone is at risk of developing them as they age—especially those with a family history of cataracts, medical problems like diabetes, and previous eye injuries—but the most common age of cataract patients is between 60 to 70 years old. Sometimes eyeglasses can help improve vision with cataracts, but if the cataracts are bad enough, surgery is the only option.

Cataract surgery involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with a clear, artificial lens, which is called an intraocular lens. The artificial lens helps the eye focus light and can help restore vision. There are a variety of lens implant options, all depending on a patient’s specific needs. For example, a monofocal intraocular lens corrects vision for one distance, requiring patients to still need glasses for certain activities like reading or driving. A multifocal intraocular lens helps patients focus clearly at multiple distances, requiring less of a need for glasses.

Cataract surgery requires just a small incision in the side of the cornea, and it’s known as an incredibly safe, accurate surgery. In fact, it’s often performed as an outpatient surgery. At Premier Medical, we know that vision loss greatly affects quality of life. We can help you determine the best course of action to correct your cataracts. Give us a call today and get one step closer to restoring your youthful vision.

The post Restoring Youthful Vision appeared first on Premier Medical Group | Eye & ENT Specialists.

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Ear, nose, and throat (ENT) problems are extremely common in kids. Part of that is because many parts of the ENT region in children have not developed enough and, therefore, are apt to not function properly. Another issue that often leads to ENT problems in children is allergies. It’s important to know the most common ENT troubles children face and be able to distinguish if allergies are playing a part in the problem.

Ear Infections: Most every child at some point is faced with an ear infection. In fact, ear infections in children are as common as a cold. Most ear infections are otisis media, or middle ear infection. Upper respiratory tract infections can make their way up the Eustachian tube and infect the middle ear to cause pain, fever, and even some hearing loss. In this instance, oral antibiotic medications typically help. In some cases, however, allergies can be to blame. If the child is under the age of two, most likely allergies aren’t to blame for any ear infection. But in older children, allergies can lead to fluid behind the eardrum and painful ear pressure.

Sore Throats: Two common throat problems in children are tonsillitis and pharyngitis. The difference in the two is that pharyngitis specifically affects the throat while tonsillitis affects the tonsils. Both conditions can lead to infections and inflammation in the throat, and often anti-inflammatory medications can treat them. Sometimes, however, sore throats are simply caused by allergies. Allergies can cause too much mucus to form, causing a post-nasal drip (a nose drip down the back of the throat).

Sinusitis: Sinusitis is typically caused by an infection of the maxillary sinus in children. Typical symptoms are frequent nasal discharge, nasal blockage, and cough, and antibiotics are typically given to treat sinusitis. But if symptoms persist, the underlying problem could be allergies. Chronic sinusitis could also be caused by an allergy that needs to be determined.

Rhinitis: Allergic rhinitis is commonly referred to as hay fever, and it’s a common ENT problem in children. Allergic rhinitis can be seasonal or year-round, and typically it causes nasal congestion, nasal discharge, sleep problems, fatigue, and skin rashes. The chronic problem can be caused by a number of allergens, both indoors and out, along with certain foods.

Overlooking symptoms of ENT issues is a problem. It can lead to not only unnecessary pain and discomfort, but also potential lifelong illnesses. If your child is experiencing any of these problems, schedule an appointment with a member of our ENT group today to get a diagnosis and find out if allergies are to blame. Give us a call today.

Click here to schedule your child’s appointment today.

The post Most Common ENT Problems in Children appeared first on Premier Medical Group | Eye & ENT Specialists.

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A recent study found many Americans say going blind would be the worst thing to happen to them. Yet of those surveyed, many were unaware of eye diseases and factors that put their vision in danger. Here are four of the most common eye conditions and what they mean to you:

Refractive Errors
If you’re nearsighted, farsighted or have astigmatism, you have what is called a refractive error. What this means is the shape of your eye prevents light from focusing directly on the retina. This a common eye problem that can be easily corrected with prescription eyeglasses or contacts.

 

Cataracts
If you’ve noticed your vision has become blurry or hazy as you’ve gotten older, it could be cataracts. Cataracts form when the naturally clear lens inside your eye becomes cloudy. As cataracts form, light rays cannot easily pass through, which makes vision blurry or hazy. Cataracts are a normal part of the aging process but they can be present at birth. Sadly, cataracts will not go away, and eventually will get worse, making it harder to see. Consult your doctor for individualized treatment options.

Age-related Macular Degeneration
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) affects your central vision. This means you cannot see fine details, but your peripheral vision will not be impacted. AMD is the leading cause of blindness in adults 50 years and older. While little can be done to improve vision once someone has AMD, catching it early on can slow down the process.

Glaucoma
Glaucoma causes fluid pressure in the eye to rise, ultimately damaging the optic nerve. As a leading cause of blindness, it is important to know your risks for this eye disease. Because it happens so gradually, you might not know you have glaucoma until you have lost vision.

Ignoring changes in your vision can be dangerous. This is why it is important to remember, eye exams aren’t just for when you’re having trouble. Everyone needs regular check-ups to safeguard their vision.

Click here to schedule your eye exam today.

The post 4 Most Common Eye Conditions appeared first on Premier Medical Group | Eye & ENT Specialists.

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Alabama Department of Public Health issued an emergency alert last Thursday (1/11/2018) regarding this year’s outbreak of seasonal influenza (flu) in our area. Here’s what you need to know (from ADPH):

  • Hospitals are at or over normal patient capacity due in large part to the number of patients
    presenting with seasonal influenza-like symptoms. Local emergency departments and
    outpatient clinics are also seeing very high volumes of patients.
  • At this time, this is not a pandemic flu situation, but a major seasonal flu situation.
  • Since early December, public health surveillance has noted widespread influenza activity in
    the state.
  • Reports of influenza-like illness (ILI) in Alabama in the last couple of weeks have been
    almost three times the threshold for significant activity for the 2017-18 influenza season. The
    threshold is 3.4%.
  • Predominant strains identified in specimens submitted to the State lab in the last couple of
    weeks have been A (H1N1) and A (H3). Nationally, no significant antiviral resistance has
    been identified. Visit http://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/influenza/index.html for more
    information

The full statement from the Alabama Department of Public Health can be seen here.

Click here to contact us today and make an appointment with today with one of the 11 Ear, Nose and Throat specialists at Premier Medical:

The post An Outbreak of Seasonal Influenza – Get Your Flu Shot appeared first on Premier Medical Group | Eye & ENT Specialists.

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You’re sniffling, sneezing, coughing and feeling achy. All signs point to it being a cold, but then you think to yourself, “could it be the flu?” It’s hard to be for sure because the two share many of the same symptoms. Here are some basic guidelines on how to spot the difference between a cold and flu symptoms.

How to spot the difference – Cold vs. the Flu

Despite sharing similar symptoms, the flu is not the same as a cold. While they are both viruses, the cold typically has much milder symptoms than the flu. A cold is also less likely to cause complications. The best way to tell the difference is to check your symptoms.

Cold symptoms:

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Headaches or body aches
  • Mild tiredness

Flu symptoms:

  • Fever *not everyone who has the flu will run a fever
  • Sore throat
  • Dry, hacking cough
  • Headache
  • Stuffy and runny nose
  • Chills
  • Severe muscle or body aches
  • Severe fatigue that may last up to 2 weeks
  • Nausea and vomiting *this is most common in children

Colds affect people gradually. You will notice symptoms show up over a few days and are often pretty mild. It will also get better with 7 to 10 days, but it a cold can last up to two weeks. The flu, on the other hand, comes on quickly. Symptoms can be severe and last up to 2 weeks.

Use this guideline to help you figure out which condition you have. If you feel you might have the flu, please visit your doctor within the first 48 hours of showing symptoms. Premier Medical offers flu shots, if you forgot your this year, it’s not too late!

Resources:
https://www.healthline.com/health/cold-flu/cold-or-flu#symptoms
https://science.howstuffworks.com/life/cellular-microscopic/flu1.htm

The post Is it the Flu? How to Tell the Difference Between a Cold and the Flu appeared first on Premier Medical Group | Eye & ENT Specialists.

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Have you used all of your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) dollars this year? If not, Time’s running out. Don’t let your FSA dollars expire at the end of the year, put them to good use on eyeglasses, sunglasses and eye exams at Premier Medical!

What is a Flexible Spending Account?

A Flexible Spending Account is a special account that allows you to set aside money (before taxes) to pay for certain out-of-pocket health care expenses.

The post Don’t Forget About Your Flexible Spending Account Dollars appeared first on Premier Medical Group | Eye & ENT Specialists.

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