The Jewish holidays are coming and, as every year, countless families are expected to spend the days at the sea or in the pool, whether in Israel or abroad. This is a great experience for the little ones in the group, but there is one risk that is important to be aware of: ear infections are the most common reason for contacting the pediatrician, when in the current context This is mainly an external ear infection. It causes great discomfort for the children and their parents, who will be happy to know that there is now a fairly simple solution to alleviate the situation.
The risks of bathing in water
The first question to ask is why a visit to the pool or the beach significantly increases the chances of an otitis externa. This inflammation develops, as its name implies, in the external parts of the eardrum – including the auditory canal and the eardrum. It is most common among children five years of age and older, although older adults may also suffer from it.
Physiologically, inflammation of the outer ear is often caused by damage to the ear’s unique defense mechanism against various bacteria and pests, that is, a situation in which various factors overcome the ear’s natural defense mechanisms. In the first stage, the skin surrounding the canal will be irritated, on which bacteria will accumulate that cause inflammation. This damage may be caused by prolonged exposure to polluted water (and unfortunately, the water in pools or even the sea in Israel may meet this condition), and in addition to the use of non-sterile hearing aids or earplugs, massive cleaning of the ears with wool sticks, skin allergy, and more.
The inflammation can cause a long series of unpleasant symptoms, mainly severe earaches, a red auricle that leans forward and impaired hearing. Other symptoms that may appear in the children are high fever, lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and restlessness, which is expressed in irritability or crying.
Everything starts with prevention
The first step in dealing with ear infections is trying to prevent them. The intention is not to give up bathing in the sea or in the pool – after all, this is one of the ideal pastimes during the holidays – but rather taking several precautions before, during and after bathing.
During the stay in the water it is recommended to equip the child with rubber earplugs. After leaving the water, be sure to thoroughly dry the outer part of the ears, using a soft towel or cloth, when it is desired to tilt the head back and forth alternately in order to remove the remaining liquid from the ear. Another essential step is rinsing the ears with fresh water.
How can ear infections be treated?
An external ear infection can be treated relatively simply in its non-serious cases, when most of the symptoms pass by themselves within up to 72 hours. At this stage, you can use basic pain relievers and relieve them, if they appear, make sure to rest at home or warm the ear with earplugs or heating pads. On the other side of the equation, there may be a situation in which the symptoms remain in their eyes or even worsen as time passes: for example, a chronic infection of the ear, damage caused to cartilage or bones, and so on.
For exactly these reasons, it is important not to delay, but to go to the doctor in any situation where you suspect an ear infection that does not go away within 2-3 days, if there is a fear of significant damage (such as a perforation or rupture of the eardrum) and also when the symptoms are prominent and difficult for the child. It is recommended not to try “magic solutions”, which may cause damage or at least cause the problem not to be solved, especially against the background of the fact that today modern medicine has effective solutions that are simple to apply.
Steroids, antibiotics or combined treatment?
When infections, inflammations and edema develop in the ear, and in cases where the inflammation does not go away despite conservative treatment, ear drops are necessary. Studies have shown that the best treatment for ear infections is local drops, not pills, what’s more, some of the “grandmother’s medicines” used by parents in the absence of sufficient knowledge (for example, olive oil or breast milk) may not help or even harm the ears.
There are different treatment options, and the doctor will put a whole set of considerations into the equation before making the decision. The main debate of the doctors in the past was between antibiotics and steroids, but nowadays you really don’t have to choose between them. An integrated solution is offered, which has been scientifically proven to be safer and more effective in reducing the duration of symptoms and the duration of the illness.
One of the latest innovations in the field is Strexel ear drops, from Ketzet. The medicine is intended for the local treatment of acute otitis externa and otitis media after button surgery caused by bacteria, and is intended for the treatment of adults and children as young as six months of age. This is a combined preparation for the ears that includes an antibiotic and a steroid. The preparation shortens the recovery time and is not autotoxic (toxic), so it is safer to use compared to the alternatives, and can be purchased with a doctor’s prescription.
Many times the doctor’s choice is a combined treatment, which makes it easier for the child (and his parents) and shortens the duration of the pain and discomfort. The doctor can recommend a visit to an otolaryngologist to clean the ear from the secretions that have accumulated on it or give general recommendations to alleviate and prevent the condition from recurring. For example, avoiding prolonged exposure to water for at least a few days (especially when the child is recovering) and using rubber seals or cotton wool with Vaseline during showers.