You Must Hear Summer to Enjoy It

There are countless reasons to love summer. The warm, sunny weather is reenergizing and lends itself to leisure, celebration, and outdoor projects.  With this increase in outdoor activities, come potential hazards to one of our most important senses - our hearing.

Divine Savior Healthcare Audiologist Tami Leslie shares, “In the summer, our ears are exposed to many sounds and activities associated with the season and often we forget to protect them. And our ears can be exposed to these noises countless times over the course of the summer. Just think of how often you mow your lawn or go swimming.”

Lawn mowers, shop tools like drills and power saws, outdoor concerts, recreational vehicles such as motorcycles and race cars, and firecrackers all register above 90 decibels.  Ear plugs are recommended for prolonged exposure to any sounds registering over 85 decibels.

Tami suggests, “If you know you’ll be around loud sounds this summer, consider packing ear plugs as a precaution - like you would sunscreen or bug spray”. Disposable foam earplugs are available at local pharmacies, big box stores, or online.  Often, you can purchase 50 individually wrapped pairs for under ten dollars and have them to stash in a travel bag, the car, or the garage.

“If you’re in a very noisy environment and your ears are unprotected, consider taking a break from the noise or walking farther away from the noise to protect your hearing,” Tami offers. For example, leave the firework shows to the pros and choose a viewing spot where you can see the sounds and colors but are not too close to the noise.

“Swimmer’s ear is another common problem we see associated with summertime. We see it in children and adults, and it can be quite painful,” states Tami. Swimmer’s ear is an infection of the outer ear canal caused by moisture trapped in the ear canal or injury to the canal.  To avoid swimmer’s ear Tami suggests drying your ears well with a towel after swimming or bathing to prevent an infection.

If you are chronically exposed to loud noise or the water, custom hearing and swimming plugs are available and can be fitted to your individual ear by professionals at Divine Savior Healthcare.

Lastly, summer is a great opportunity for spending time outdoors.  “In the Audiology department at Divine Savior, we really encourage you to urge your children, especially if they are quite young, to spend a lot of time outside and limit screen time.  This is a great way for you to bond with your children. It often helps them sleep better, and the real interactions help strengthen their speech and language development,” shares Tami. “Just make sure their ears are protected from loud noises and dried out after swimming”.

If you are having trouble hearing or are looking for a licensed audiologist, Divine Savior Healthcare is here to help. To make an appointment with Tami or another one of our expert providers, please call (608) 745- 5956. Summer can’t be fully enjoyed if it can’t be fully heard.




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Experiencing a dull pain in the pit of your stomach

Stomach PainGastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, and gallbladder disease are two very common disorders. Knowing which one you have may be trickier than you think. Symptoms may be vague, such as a “dull pain in the pit of your stomach”, making it hard for you to explain to your doctor what’s exactly going on.

At Divine Savior Healthcare, General Surgeons, Dr. Eric Anderson and Dr. Joshua Pogorelec, have seen many patients with these symptoms and after further examination are able to help  diagnose and treat both diseases.

What is GERD?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease GERD refers to stomach contents moving into the esophagus causing a burning sensation commonly referred to as heartburn. Other symptoms may occur as well, such as pain in the upper abdomen, bloating, nausea and an acid taste in your mouth.  If this continue, prolonged exposure of the esophagus to stomach contents can result in damage to the lining of the esophagus.  This in turn can result in difficulty swallowing, pain with swallowing or permanent damage to the esophagus.

Although not all reflux results in symptoms or damage to the esophagus, common symptoms include:
• Heartburn
• Acid regurgitation
• Belching
• Difficulty or pain when swallowing
• Waterbrash sudden excess of saliva
• Dysphagia the sensation of food sticking in the esophagus
• Chronic sore throat
• Laryngitis
• Inflammation of the gums
• Erosion of the enamel of the teeth
• Chronic irritation in the throat
• Hoarseness in the morning
• A sour taste
• Bad breath
• Coughing at night

What is gallbladder disease?
The gallbladder is located below the liver on the upper right side of the abdomen. The main function of the gallbladder is to store bile, which is made in the liver and allows fat-soluble vitamins and nutrients to be easily absorbed into the bloodstream. Any condition that affects the gallbladder is considered a disease, and there are many different scenarios that fall under gallbladder disease:
• Inflammation
• Gallstones
• Common bile duct stones
• Biliary Dyskinesia
• Infection
• Perforated gallbladder
• Gallbladder polyps
• Porcelain gallbladders
• Gallbladder cancer

Dr. Anderson and Dr. Pogorelec share "the most common disease of the gallbladder is gallstones. Most people with gallstones do not even know they have them.  Once they cause problems, the gallbladder may need to be removed. Symptoms include pain below the right rib cage or in the “pit” of the stomach. This pain may radiate to the right upper back, chest, or shoulder. Other symptoms may include, bloating, nausea or vomiting, fever or chills, chronic diarrhea, jaundice yellow-tinted skin, or unusual lighter-colored stools or dark urine.”

After taking a closer look at GERD and gallbladder disease, Dr. Anderson and Dr. Pogorelec are able to provide helpful insight on common distinguishing factors between the two diseases.

Common distinguishing factors:
• Location: Although both may feel like a “pit in your stomach”, if you experience symptoms located closer to your throat or in your chest it is more likely to be GERD related. Symptoms located near your right lower rib radiating into your right upper back, chest and shoulder are more likely to be associated to your gallbladder.
• Pain: Unlike GERD, gallbladder pain usually begins suddenly, and changing positions, belching, passing gas or taking medications rarely helps pain symptoms go away.
• Timing: With heartburn being the most common symptom of GERD, symptoms of reflux are likely to occur shortly after eating, where symptoms of gallbladder disease usually occurs several hours after eating and have more consistent patterns of reoccurrence the same time each day.

What does treatment look like?
The symptoms of GERD are commonly and effectively treated with over-the-counter medications such as anti-acids and proton pump inhibitors. However, if relief does not go away from these medications your provider may recommend you be evaluated by one of our surgeons at Divine Savior.

After a thorough history and physical, our surgeons may recommend further evaluation of the esophagus and stomach with endoscopy.  Similar to colonoscopy, but without the need for prep, upper endoscopy allows the surgeon to visualize the esophagus, stomach and intestine to evaluate for damage to the esophagus, infection and a hiatal hernia.  Depending on the findings, further testing may be indicated to evaluate the function of the esophagus. 

Patients with severe GERD benefit from surgery to prevent reflux from occurring.  This procedure is commonly performed by both Dr. Anderson and Dr. Pogorelec, is minimally invasive, and very effective at treating GERD.  In fact, most patients no longer require any antacid medications after the procedure.

If you are found to have stones in the gallbladder causing symptoms, the best course of action is to have the gallbladder removed.  Leaving the stones in place will continue to cause pain and may result in serious infection of the gallbladder and bile ducts, jaundice or pancreatitis. 

Both Dr. Anderson and Dr. Pogorelec routinely perform minimally invasive removal of the gallbladder.  This is most often an outpatient procedure and very successful.  After a short recovery, most patients will find their symptoms are gone and they are able to live a normal life. 

If you experience symptoms related to GERD or gallbladder disease, or have concerns about either, it is best to consult your provider for further examination. Treatment for either disease varies person to person, but taking action immediately and being properly treated can help you prevent problems from worsening.

To schedule an appointment with Divine Savior Healthcare General Surgeons, Dr. Anderson or Dr. Pogorelec, call 608-745-5176.

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