Doctors report rise in ear infections due to winter

New Delhi, Dec 13 (IANS) Doctors on Wednesday reported a rise in outpatient department (OPD) visits with cases of ear infections due to winter.

The doctors reported ear infection, along with itching, and swelling across all age groups majorly because of bacterial or viral inflammation due to the cold weather.

“There has been an increase in the incidence of ear infections across all age groups recently. Because cold weather provides a favourable environment for bacteria and viruses to grow and cause further problems which usually result from bacterial or viral inflammation and harm the ears,” Dr Sanjeev Dang, ENT surgeon, Apollo Spectra Hospital, Delhi, told IANS.

He explained that the main cause of ear inflammation can be attributed to weakened immunity in the cold, which leads to irritation and trapped moisture or bacteria causing otitis media.

“This infection is also seen due to sore throat or respiratory infection, as the Eustachian tube gets blocked. And there is unbearable pain.”

The symptoms of ear infection include ear pain, headache, tenderness, swelling, abnormal discharge, dizziness and temporary hearing loss.

Dr Bhavik Shah, ENT Surgeon from Zynova Shalby Hospital in Mumbai suggested using ear drops.

“Take antibiotics, antihistamines, and painkillers after consulting your doctor. Do not take any medicines or use any over-the-counter ear drops without consulting your doctor.

“Use a heating pad or moist cloth, such as an ice pack or warm compress, to ease ear pain. Don’t allow water to accumulate in the ears. Don’t use cotton in the ears to protect from wind as doing this can cause swelling in the ear canal. Do not use ear buds. Earbuds can traumatise the ear canal,” Dr Shah said.

Further the doctors also call for maintaining proper hygiene by washing hands with soap and water; getting a flu vaccine, and to stop smoking, which can irritate the airways.

They also suggested wearing ear plugs during bathing and swimming to reduce the risk of ear infections and taking steps to prevent the common cold, flu, and sinusitis.

“The prevalence of ear infections is often attributed to the structure of the Eustachian tube in young children, which is more horizontal and shorter when compared to adults, setting the stage for bacteria or viruses to enter the middle ear and causing pain,” Dr Siddharth Madabhushi, Consultant Neonatologist, Ankura Hospitals, Pune, told IANS.

“The combination of cold weather and increased indoor activities creates a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Frequent hand washing and proper clothing to keep children warm can go a long way in reducing their susceptibility to ear infections during this time of year. Parents should be mindful of excessive moisture in their child’s ears, whether from swimming or bathing, as it can lead to fungal growth and subsequent infections,” Dr Madabhushi added.

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