What happens when a child with ear pain, made worse by movement of the ear, visits the Golisano After Hours Care program at Upstate University Hospital’s Community Campus?
In the recent case of a 7-year-old girl named Samantha, Dr. Joseph Nimeh, MD quickly diagnosed external otitis, commonly referred to as “swimmer’s ear.” This is a disease of the external ear canal, which is the connection between the outside of the ear and the ear drum. The disease is most commonly caused by infection.
Diagnosis is made by looking into the ear with an otoscope, and distinguishing the condition from a middle ear infection (acute otitis media), which can cause similar symptoms. Because treatment is different for each condition, understanding the difference is important.
Earaches are among the common problems doctors see in patients at the Golisano After Hours Care program, which operates from 4 to 11 p.m. weekdays and noon to 11 p.m. weekends. The program is designed for newborn babies, children and adolescents, and young adults through age 21. For details call 1-315-492-5437, or read through the “frequently asked questions.”
Swimmer’s ear can occur in all age groups, but the highest incidence is during childhood. Swimmer’s ear can cause redness and inflammation, and it is very painful, especially when certain parts of the ear are moved or touched. Other symptoms include itchiness of the ear, drainage, and hearing loss.
Nimeh says swimmer’s ear is typically treated with topical ear drops that contain antibiotics, acidifying agents or steroids, or some combination of these agents — as was the case with Samantha. Oral antibiotics are rarely necessary, unless there are signs of a spreading infection.