Q&A with Dr. Jay

Question 1: My one month old has an eye which keeps getting a discharge, especially after a long time of sleeping. Why is this occurring?

Dr. Jay: This is possibly a blocked lacrimal tear duct. The first thing that I look for is to make sure that this is not an infection. An infection is usually accompanied by a very red or pink eye. If the eye is not red, I usually ask if the eye seems teary. Usually, the answer is yes, because this little duct which drains tears from your eyes into your nose is blocked. The collection of tears then turns into a milky or slimy residue that collects on the eyelids as they are sleeping. It also collects while they are awake, but is just looks like they have a very wet eye. This problem is usually in just one eye. To help this duct open up, I suggest you massage the area between the eye and the bridge of the nose in a circular motion for a few minutes a couple times a day. Wipe the residue from the eye with a warm wash cloth. These usually resolve with the massage in a couple of weeks. Sometimes, we do have to use an antibiotic drop to clear a red eye but this will not remove the block. If the blockage does not clear up by 6 to 9 months of age, I will send the family to a pediatric ophthalmologist for possible surgery to remove the blockage. This surgery is highly successful and rarely do they block up again.

Question 2: My 7 year old son had his hearing screened at school and it showed that he failed in left ear. This has never happened before. What should I do?

Dr. Jay: Make an appointment with your pediatrician to have it examined. The most common reason I see for a failed test is that the ear canal was blocked by a large amount of ear wax. This is removed and then the child will have normal hearing again. Another common reason is that there is fluid in the middle ear. If the test was done while your child had a cold or a bout with allergies, mucous could have collected in the middle ear without your child even knowing it but will reflect with a failed hearing exam. If we do find fluid, we wait a couple of weeks for the fluid to resolve. Sometimes, an antibiotic will be needed to fight the infection which caused all that mucous to build up or be placed on a allergy medicine to decrease the mucous. If the mucous clears, your child should pass the retest. If he still fails, he should be referred to an ENT specialist for further testing and examination.

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