Monday, April 8, 2013

Review of "Survey of K-3rd - Grade Teachers' Knowledge of Ear Infections and Willingness to Participate in Prevention Programs."

I have been trying to be more diligent at regularly reading journal articles. 
I am very pleased to have come across this particular article!

"Survey of K-3rd - Grade Teachers' Knowledge of Ear Infections and Willingness to Participate in Prevention Programs."
Jeffry L. Danhauer, Carole E. Johnson, and Abby T. Caudle

The title of the article is very self explanatory and leads to some interesting information in the realm of ear infections and well...prevention programs! The basic set up of the study is as follows: the researches created a questionnaire through that was emailed to 112 teachers that taught Kindergarten through 3rd grade in the Santa Barbra School District - 29 responded. The questions can be found within the study but generally they knowledge of recognizing hearing loss and/or ear infections, previous education on ear infections, prevention programs, and possible implementation within their classroom.

Now the results were interesting but not terribly surprising. Before I share the results I thought I would first talk briefly on the proposed prevention program. The basic prevention program involves children Kindergarten - 3rd grade chewing gum containing xylitol (a prophylaxis for acute otitis media - seems to prevent bacteria common in ear infections from attaching to the pharyngeal and eustachian tube structures - as well the act of chewing is good for pressure regulation). The implementation would involve teachers, students and the parents of the students. The gum would need to be chewed by the students 5 times per day.

*About half of the surveyed teachers could recognize signs of ear infections - though they knew the negative impact of ear infections.
*More than half of the K-3rd grade teachers did not know that ear infections could be prevented.
*All of the surveyed teachers reported that gum was not allowed in the school.
*More than half of the surveyed teachers they would let their students chew gum with xylitol for the purpose of preventing ear infections - if the school and their parents would allow it.
*Most of the teachers wanted follow up information.

I found this study to be very interesting though again results not surprising. I would find chewing gum within the classroom setting very disrupting.  I can only imagine some of the kids sticking the gum under the chairs... spitting it at other kids... having it stuck in someone's hair... choking... yikes!

As an outpatient SLP whenever I hear of one my little patients starting with day care or school my first thought is always - here comes the ear infections so it is great to see colleagues looking into the prevention aspect! This article also did a nice job in reviewing predisposing factors for acute otitis medial and other preventative measures that I will have listed below. Overall a great read! I highly encourage reading it!

Predisposing Factors to Acute Otitis Media
  1. Craniofacial abnormalities
  2. Hypotonia
  3. Immune deficiencies
  4. Low socioeconomic status
  5. Family hisotry
  1. Avoiding exposure to cigarette smoke
  2. Pacifier use
  3. Bottle propping
  4. Breastfeeding for the first year of life
  5. Frequent hand washing
  6. Limiting participation in day care centers
Signs and Symptoms of Ear Infections
  1. Ear pain - especially when lying down
  2. Tugging or pulling at an ear
  3. Difficulty sleeping
  4. Crying - more than typical
  5. Acting irritable
  6. Difficulty hearing
  7. Loss of balance
  8. Headache
  9. Fever
  10. Drainage
  11. Loss of appetite
  12. Vomiting
  13. Diarrhea

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