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Swimmer's Ear

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Daniel Diamantakos is an active seven-year-old. But swimming can be problematic. He often get swimmer's ear like he did on his recent vacation to the Bahamas.

"One day my ear started hurting."

His mother, Natalia says, "When he was diving in under the water a day later he would have a high fever and fluid was coming out of his ear."

Swimmer's ear is a painful infection of the ear canal. Besides swimming, people can get it through an scratch to the ear that can let bacteria in. Up to 40% of swimmer's ear infections are treated with oral antibiotics, but new guidelines from the American Academy of Otolaryngology advise against the pills.

"It's a bad idea. It has side effects, it causes resistance and it delays recovery," says Dr. Richard Rosenfeld.

Dr. Rosenfeld was the lead author of the new advisory. He says doctors should treat the infection with ear drops.

"Antibiotic ear drops can be a thousand times more concentrated than what you take by mouth. So it really is like dropping a bomb on the bacteria."

About half of swimmer's ear infections are among children 15 and younger. Daniel's mother hopes he grows out of it as he gets older. 

"I'm just waiting for it to be over."

Until she brings ear plugs and ear drops on every vacation. 

Swimmer's ear affects one in every 123 Americans each year. The infection usually gets better within 72 hours after treatment.


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