Swimming pools are places of recreation for everyone, but especially for children, as they love spending hours submerged in them. The problem is that they almost never do it with ear protection, since for us parents it is like something that we do not pay attention to, because we do not know that the water in the swimming pools conditions the production of a pathology called external otitis or , colloquially called swimming pool otitis, which are very painful and difficult to treat.
Swimming pools are tanks full of water, which most of the time are contaminated, even if special products such as chlorine or disinfectant salts are added to decontaminate and purify them of microorganisms and other contaminants.
The water is practically stagnant and many children and even adults dive in without having to shower beforehand and even urinate inside them. For this reason, in summer stages, cases of otitis are very frequent, with a high incidence in children under 12 years of age. Before describing what this pathology is about, it is necessary for them to know how the ear is shaped and where this disease occurs.
The ear is divided into the outer ear, which goes from the entrance orifice of the ear, to the tympanic membrane, and the middle ear, which goes from the tympanic membrane to the pharynx, communicating through the Eustachian tube.
When a pool otitis, the affected part of the ear is the external, that is, the external ear, the tympanic membrane can also be affected when the cases are severe.
In my experience as a pediatrician and every time they consult because the child has a severe earache, usually without fever and with a lot of itching or stinging, my obligatory question is whether they have been bathing in the pool, and most of the time the answer is yes.
When doing the physical examination and checking the ear with the otoscope, I find that the pain is intense, even when grasping the pinna of the ear, and the external ear or external auditory canal is observed very inflamed, very erythematous (red) and with some white patches or spots, like cotton wool.
The most common causative agent is the pseudomonas bacteria, which grows and reproduces in the ear when water penetrates and stagnates in the outer ear portion, producing this infectious process that is very painful for the child.
Another agent that can cause infections inside the ear is the fungus, due to humidity, but with fewer symptoms, to the point that sometimes I diagnose it when I do a routine examination of the ears, that is, it can go unnoticed until the growth is very extensive.
Treatment for the pseudonoma bacteria is local and oral antibiotics (drops), anti-inflammatories and analgesics to relieve pain. When there is the presence of fungi, it is treated with antifungal drops, but the most important thing is the prevention of this pathology, so I will give you the following recommendations below.
- The first thing is to try keep ears clean and free of moisture, to prevent the growth of microorganisms inside the ear.
- Cleaning the ear should not be done by introducing the so-called 'rods', as they can injure the canal and even the eardrum, and also produce earwax plugs that decrease hearing acuity. Alone clean the wax thatwhich springs out of the ear.
- Before entering the pool, put silicone plugs on the child to protect the ears and thus prevent water from entering and accumulating in the conduit.
- If you don't have earplugs, they can place a few drops of glycerin, acting as a protective hearing barrier.
- Wear a hat that covers the ears.
- When leaving the pool, dry your ears well with a dry towela and try to remove any water that may have accumulated in the external duct. This is done by lateralizing the head from side to side.
- Avoid diving headfirst into the pool, since the water enters the ears easier due to pressure.
- Avoid diving without hearing protection or being underwater for a long time.
- Hygiene measures for swimming pools with chlorinated products and antiseptic salts.
- Avoid bathing in ponds or swimming pools that the waters are not treated.
- Bathing on the beach is preferable to swimming in the pool, since in the sea the incidence of otitis is much less frequent.
- And if otitis occurred due to swimming in the pool, you should avoid this practice for at least two months after treatment to ensure complete healing.
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