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Treating Swimmer’s Ear

There’s nothing like a dip in a cool pool on a hot summer day. But unfortunately for some, the price of refreshment is a painful ear infection commonly known as “swimmer’s ear.”

Swimmer’s ear is more prevalent in children and young adults, however, anyone can suffer from it. Non-contagious and different than a middle ear infection, swimmer’s ear is caused by a growth of bacteria when water stays in the outer ear canal for a long time. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), symptoms of this infection can include:

  • Pain when the outer ear is tugged or when pressure is put on the part of the outer ear that sticks out in front of the ear canal
  • Itchiness inside the ear
  • Drainage from the ear (often yellow and foul-smelling)
  • Redness and swelling in the ear
  • Muffled hearing

How to Prevent Swimmer’s Ear

Despite the name, “swimmer’s ear” (also known as otitis externa) is often caused by non-swimming-related activities. Moisture can collect in the outer ear canal from exposure to rain, showering, bathing, or heavy perspiration. The good news is that you can still cool off in the pool, lake, or sprinkler this summer while minimizing the chances that you’ll be left with ear pain.

An ounce of prevention can be worth a pound of cure. Here are some tips that will help you keep water out of your ears, preventing the moisture build-up that can lead to swimmer’s ear.

  1. Keep your ears dry with a bathing cap, ear plugs, or even custom-fit swim molds if you’re a frequent swimmer or regularly suffer from ear infections.
  2. Use a towel to dry your ears after swimming or showering, tilting the ears down to allow water to drain out of the ear canal.
  3. If you or your child has a lot of water in their ears, you can hold a hairdryer several inches from your ear to help dry it out. Be sure you use the lowest heat and fan setting.
  4. Keep cotton swabs out of your ear. Ear wax is actually protective in keeping the moisture out of your ears that causes bacteria to grow.

When to See a Doctor for Swimmer’s Ear

Swimmer’s ear will often resolve on its own, however, if your pain is persistent or you have discharge coming from your ear, you should call a doctor. You may need antibiotic ear drops depending on the severity of your infection.

With convenient offices in Memphis and Bartlett, ENT Memphis can diagnose and treat swimmer’s ear, as well as other conditions of the ear, nose, and throat. You can conveniently schedule an appointment online or by calling our office.

COVID-19 Long Term Effects

It is believed that more than one hundred million people experienced health consequences from COVID long after they were negative for infection. According to one study, more than 40% of people who have had COVID have or have had long-term effects after their recovery from the initial infection.

The lingering symptoms, sometimes referred to as long-haul COVID (or if you want to get scientific: post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2, or PASC) can be both frustrating and uncomfortable.

What Are Long-Term COVID Symptoms?

According to The Centers for Disease Control, post-COVID conditions include a “wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems people can experience four or more weeks after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.”

Our knowledge about the virus’ health impact continues to evolve with time and research. Based on the information available, the CDC has posted a comprehensive list of post-COVID conditions. Some of the more common persistent health issues include:

  • shortness of breath
  • cough
  • fatigue
  • difficulty concentrating (“brain fog”)
  • sleep disruptions
  • chest pain
  • headache

Possible Long-Term Effects on the Ears, Nose, and Throat

In addition to a cough, some of the potential long-term effects of coronavirus on the ears, nose, and throat include changes in smell or taste, hearing loss, tinnitus, and vestibular problems.

Loss of Taste and Smell

The loss of taste and smell was one of the earliest and most tell-tale symptoms of early COVID infections. In fact, anywhere from 20-85% of people with COVID infections experienced some degree of smell and taste loss. However, changes in taste and smell have been less common with newer variants.

There are many possible reasons you may experience a dulling of these senses including:

  • Age (especially over age 60)
  • Illness or infection (such as COVID-19)
  • Obstructions like nasal polyps
  • Medications
  • Cancer treatment
  • Head or brain trauma

Our senses impact our ability to enjoy life’s pleasures. They also affect our safety if we are unable to smell smoke or gas or cannot taste that food is spoiled. Unsurprisingly, research has confirmed that patients whose sense of taste and smell was affected by COVID had a loss of quality of life and safety as a result.

Researchers are continuing to explore therapies that may treat the loss of these senses in patients with long-haul COVID.

Hearing Loss and Tinnitus

Findings published in the International Journal of Audiology identified 56 studies that observed an association between COVID-19 and auditory and vestibular problems, such as vertigo. Researchers compiled data from 24 of these studies to estimate that the prevalence of hearing loss was 7.6%, tinnitus was 14.8% and vertigo was 7.2%.

Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) is caused by inner ear damage. Experts speculate that COVID-19 may cause damage due to a viral infection in the inner ear, an autoimmune response that accidentally attacks the inner ear, or clots that block the blood supply to the cochlea or semicircular ear canals.

Tinnitus may be an intermittent or continuous sound in one or both ears. Its pitch can go from a low roar to a high squeal or whine, or it can have many sounds. Researchers are not sure whether there’s a causal relationship between the coronavirus and tinnitus. However, some theorize that isolation and depression from staying at home for prolonged periods of time may have drawn more attention to someone’s tinnitus symptoms.

It’s also worth noting that research looking at a possible connection between hearing loss and
tinnitus included confirmed, probable, and suspected coronavirus cases.

(For information on whether there may be a connection between sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL) and the COVID vaccine, read this blog.)

Vertigo

Of the audiovestibular (hearing and balance) changes for patients after a coronavirus infection, the least commonly reported is vertigo. An article published in the International Journal of Audiology evaluated 20 studies that estimated the prevalence of vertigo was 7.2%.

More generally, we do know that infections can cause vestibular (meaning “originating in the inner ear”) balance disorders. Symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Feeling off-balance
  • Feeling as if you are floating or as if the world is spinning
  • Blurred vision
  • Disorientation
  • Falling or stumbling

However, the authors of this study caution that much of the data was collected from self-reported questionnaires and that physicians sometimes used the terms “vertigo” and “dizziness” interchangeably and the latter can have causes that are not vestibular.

Have You Noticed Changes in Your Hearing, Taste, or Smell?

Despite the multiple reports of symptoms, more research needs to be done to determine how a COVID-19 infection may affect (or have affected) your ear, nose, and throat health long term.

If you have seen changes in your ear, nose, or throat health, whether you’ve had COVID-19 or not, an otolaryngologist can work with you to diagnose and treat your condition.

To schedule an appointment at ENT Memphis to discuss your concerns, click here.

tonsillectomy

Most parents have been there. You’re putting your child to bed and they begin complaining that their ear is hurting. Your pediatrician’s office closed more than two hours ago so your options are racing to the after-hours clinic or waiting until morning.

Or maybe this is the fourth sore throat your child has had this year. Not only has she missed several days of school, but you’re not excited about the thought of putting her on antibiotics again. Between allergies, the common cold, strep throat, and now COVID-19, it can be hard to figure out what’s going on with your child. And while unpredictable, illness often strikes at what feels like the worst possible time.

Continue reading Why a Tonsillectomy May Help Your Child’s Chronic Ear and Throat Infections

Approximately one in 10 Americans undergo a Computed Tomography (CT) scan each year in order to detect abnormalities, injuries, or diseases. A highly regarded diagnostic imaging tool due to its ability to detect minute differences in tissue as well as its multiplanar reformatted imaging capabilities, CT is used to diagnose conditions of the neck, chest, abdomen, pelvis, extremities, cardiac and vascular system, and sinus and temporal bones.

There are many factors that contribute to an accurate diagnosis based on CT imaging. The training and experience of both the operator performing the procedure and the interpreting physician, the type of CT equipment used, adherence to radiation dose guidelines, and the quality assessment metrics each facility is required to measure, all contribute to a positive patient outcome. IACaccreditation is a “seal of approval” that patients can rely on as an indicator of consistent quality care and a dedication to continuous improvement.

Continue reading ENT Memphis Earns CT Reaccreditation by the IAC

Signs of Hearing Loss

Have you found yourself nodding along with conversations you are struggling to follow because you’re too embarrassed to ask someone to repeat themselves? Or maybe your spouse keeps asking why you have the volume on the television unusually loud. Do you have a “good ear” and a “bad ear”? Social situations that used to be fun are now frustrating and stressful. If you’re honest with yourself, maybe you know your hearing isn’t what it used to be.

Continue reading The Signs of Hearing Loss and What Can You Do About It

A doctor’s journey to practicing medicine in ways that bring an overall well-being to their patients may begin in med school, but it certainly does not end there. It is a career-long pursuit of continual exploration, education, and discovery all in the interest of high-quality patient care. The doctors of ENT Memphis embody this commitment to their patients’ health through their participation in the Southern Pediatric Otolaryngology Education Group (SPOEG).

For the past 30 years, the premier ENTs of the region have come together through membership in SPOEG as a unique platform for discourse, exchange of ideas, and collaboration. SPOEG represents the longest continuous meeting of its kind. Each year over 100 pediatric and adult ENTS gather for the SPOEG annual meeting. It is at the annual meeting where opportunities for focused roundtable discussions are provided and cutting-edge discoveries of the latest technological advancements in surgery and treatments are made. Through this exceptional association of ENTs, it is ultimately the patients who benefit, receiving quality, highly specialized care.

Dr Rande Lazar open on SaturdayUnfortunately, you can’t dictate your body to only be ill Monday-Friday. The common standard of patient care after hours is an automated phone tree instructing you to either call 911 or go the emergency room. But what if your problem isn’t life threatening? Do you really want to get lost in the ER triage pool? According to an article in USA Today by Laura Ungar, the average wait in the ER for a non-critical patient is 2 hours during the weekday and 3 hours on the weekend. Not to mention exposure to numerous germs and viruses that may make you even more sick. Then why have ER visits jumped 12% since 2011?

  • Insurance coverage-sure that is one reason.
  • The “right here, right now” trend of immediate gratification-also true but I can’t fix that either.

What I can control, as a practicing Ear, Nose and Throat physician, is open the doors of my solo practice on Saturday. I know the whole “work-life balance” but :

  1. I became a doctor to help patients and take my oath very serious.
  2. People can’t decide when to get sick.
  3. More and more individuals are working 1-2 jobs and need options besides weekdays from 8-5.

Urgent care centers and after-hour clinics are popping up everywhere to combat the higher cost of unnecessary ER visits, which cost approximately 25% more than an office visit, but I want to personally take care of my patients. Am I part of a growing trend to be more patient centric? I don’t know. But if you wake up on a Saturday with inflamed sinuses or your child’s ear infection has returned for the 3rd time, you know where to find me.

Dr Lazar

 

 

 

 

 

Rande H. Lazar
ENT Memphis
901.821.4300

Providing pediatric and adult care for ear, nose and throat disorders since 1970 including:

  • tonsil/ear/sinus/throat infection
  • sleep apnea/snoring
  • hearing loss