Most children have at least one ear infection by age five. Typically, ear infections resolve either on their own or are treated with antibiotics. For two-year-old Zahmari Gentles, chronic ear infections were dampening her spirits and affected her speech and behavior.

“I could always tell when Zahmari had an ear infection,” said Gentles’ grandmother and guardian, Trenice Pitt. “She’d put her fingers in her ears, and would be cranky and irritable.” What worried Pitt most was that Gentles could barely talk.

After several ear infections and rounds of antibiotics, Gentles’ pediatrician referred her to Bayhealth otolaryngologist Catherine Wright with Bayhealth ENT (ear, nose, and throat). “The pediatrician was concerned with what would happen to Zahmari’s ears if she didn’t see Dr. Wright,” said Pitt.

Bayhealth ENT in Dover was familiar to Pitt. She has been cared for by Bayhealth otolaryngologist Stephen Cooper since 2009 and says she always has good experiences.

Upon examining Gentles, Wright determined the toddler needed ear tubes. “Ear tubes were the best solution to alleviate Zahmari’s chronic ear infections and to improve the problems she was having with her speech,” said Wright.

According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, the average age for ear tube insertion is one to three years old. Ear tubes are tiny cylinders placed through the ear drum to allow air into the middle of the ear.

Wright explained that there are many benefits to inserting ear tubes including reducing the risk of future ear infections; restoring hearing loss that’s caused by middle ear fluid; improving speech problems and balance problems; and improving behavior and sleep problems caused by chronic ear infections.

Preparing her granddaughter for surgery was scary, but Pitt said Wright made sure the experience was “as smooth and relaxed as possible.” Pitt described the morning of the procedure as nothing less than “awesome.”

“I couldn’t believe how well Zahmari took to Dr. Wright,” said Pitt. The outpatient surgery took just 15 minutes to perform.

In the months following Gentles’ procedure, Pitt has seen a significant change in her granddaughter’s behavior and speech. “She talks and repeats words now,” said Pitt. “She’s even started watching television; it wasn’t appealing to her before.”

Wright sees adult and pediatric patients at Bayhealth ENT in Dover and Milford alongside fellow otolaryngologist Cooper. Wright earned her medical degree from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. She completed an internship in surgery, and her residency and chief residency programs in head and neck surgery at UNMC.

To find a Bayhealth otolaryngologist to fit your family’s needs, contact 1-866-Bay-Docs to learn about providers in your area.