Ear, nose and throat issues are the number one concern prompting parents to see their child’s pediatrician. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 80% of children will visit their primary pediatrician with a painful earache before the age of 2.
“Ear tubes are the most common surgical procedure for young children in the U.S,” says Gillette pediatric otolaryngologist (ENT), Micah Berman, MD. “If your child is having repeated ear infections you may want to see an ENT who can help you manage these infections and even suggest ear tubes, if it’s appropriate.”
Berman says issues with a child’s ear, nose and throat can have a profound impact on the overall happiness and development of a child. “For example, if a child is having constant earaches that can have a big impact on that child’s hearing and speech development,” Berman says. “The child can feel uncomfortable and not sleep well. All of these things detract from a child’s quality of life.”
February is Kids’ ENT Health Month. At Gillette Children's our ENT specialists understand the unique needs of children and teens who have disabilities, complex conditions or serious issues.
“Being a pediatric ENT is really rewarding,” Berman says. “The areas of the body I care for really effect who a child interacts with the world. It has an impact on a child’s hearing, speech, breathing, smell—and most of the major senses in the human body.”
Berman is a fellowship-trained pediatric otolaryngologist and his areas of clinical expertise include the medical and surgical management of pediatric airway disease (stridor), neck masses, sinus disease, hearing and balance disorders, and voice and speech deficiencies. He also specializes in caring for children with complex medical conditions including those with tracheostomy tubes, feeding and swallowing disorders and drooling. Berman came to Gillette because of his devotion to its patient population and to help establish an ENT and aerodigestive clinic.
“Before I came aboard, Gillette didn't have one of those types of clinics and it is really exciting,” Berman says. The clinic manages patients who have the complex intersection of airway, digestive, respiratory, and feeding disorders. Families get to see many doctors in one coordinated visit. Berman takes pride in the fact that, "we can give really efficient, high quality care to those patients.”
Devoted to his patients, his work and music
Berman grew up in St. Louis Park, Minnesota and is bilingual. “My mother is Israeli so I speak English and Hebrew. I joke that because I’m half Israeli I don’t look like a typical Minnesotan—but I am!”
Berman majored in pre-med and piano performance at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. “I still really love performing and I play the piano almost every day.” He’s performed in a few local Twin Cities music shows and has played music with some Gillette staff.
He says his favorite part of working at Gillette is talking with his patients and families. “I enjoy guiding these families through a treatment plan. All of these children are so individual and unique. These kids are full of life and have their own personalities. I like that.”
He recalls helping a family who had a child struggling with breathing problems, constant pneumonia and constant respiratory distress because of an underlying neuromuscular condition. “His parents were really frightened and were especially frightened at the idea of a tracheostomy,” Berman recalls. A tracheostomy is a temporary or permanent medical procedure that involves creating an opening in the neck to place a tube into a person’s windpipe. It allows air to enter the lungs.
“I guided them through what to expect and assured them they would have a lot of support and would be pleased with the outcome. Eventually they decided to have the tracheostomy at Gillette and are very pleased with the outcome.”
The procedure changed this patient’s life and his family had an easier time caring for his airway and lungs. “It allowed this family to get out of the house more with their child and his quality of life was improved,” Berman says. “It was a success story for this patient and his caregivers.”
“I love kids and I love surgery,” Berman says. “I think what's really unique about pediatric ENT is that it affects how kids interact with the world around them. So, through hearing, through speech, through food and swallowing, breathing and smell. A lot of the senses are there and each type of surgery in all those areas is totally different. I love the wide variety of skill set that ENT requires,” Berman says.
“With ENT, it's more about the medical decision-making, and so I think you can say overall, at Gillette we take care of some of the most complex patients in the region," Berman says. “We're used to that so you can rest assured that at Gillette your child will receive excellent care here regardless of the complexity of their condition.”