If your kids are like mine (and their many cousins), school holidays mean exciting extra time for one of their favorite activities: swimming. Each January, however, Muthaiga Pediatrics sees several cases of “swimmer’s ear” following December’s fun in the sun.
Swimmer’s ear (external otitis) is an uncomfortable condition that affects the ear canal, the part of the ear that leads from the visible ear to the eardrum. Frequent swimming means a greater chance that bacteria or sand particles, combined with extra moisture, will lead to irritation and inflammation in the ear canal. The clinic sees swimmer’s ear most frequently in children returning from holidays on the East African coast, but swimming anywhere (including in pools) can produce the same type of inflammation in the ear canal.
Although swimmer’s ear is different from the type of middle-ear infection (otitis media) that young children tend to get alongside an episode of flu or a cold, swimmer’s ear also can be quite painful (especially when the outer ear is touched or moved) as well as itchy. You may notice fluid or pus leaking from the ear canal, and your child’s hearing may even be temporarily affected due to swelling. The body’s responses to swimmer’s ear can add up to a condition that makes your child extremely uncomfortable—just as school is due to reopen.
For a child who has done a lot of swimming during the holidays and is experiencing any of the symptoms described, please book an appointment so that we can diagnose the problem and start appropriate treatment. Usually this is simple and involves administering medication at home, but it’s important to be seen at the clinic and have the correct remedy prescribed. Depending upon the nature of the irritation, the doctor may need to clean your child’s ear canal. Your child will also need to refrain from swimming for a week or two until the condition clears.
If you suspect swimmer’s ear, make an appointment. You can do this by telephoning the clinic on 0722 519 863 / 0733 668 517 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.