What's Going Around: water-borne sickness, swimmer's ear

What's Going Around: water-borne sickness, swimmer's ear
Swimmer's ear is one of the summer-related sicknesses bringing more people in to the WCCH emergency department this week. (Source: KPLC)

SULPHUR, LA (KPLC) - Before you take a dip in the pool or head to the beach, listen up about What's Going Around this week.

Dr. Syed Shah, medical director of the emergency department at West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital in Sulphur, says there is an uptick in water-related bugs, swimmer's ear infections and summer rashes.

"The impact during the summer on healthcare with these illnesses is huge," said Dr. Shah.
Whether it is pool water or lakes, rivers, or the Gulf, recreational water-borne illnesses can affect you from your head to your toes, according to Dr. Shah.

"These include diarrheal diseases, skin rashes, ear infections," he said.

The most common ear infection: swimmer's ear, when bacteria can start growing in the ear canal.

"The swimmer's ear is usually a simple ear infection that happens in the external ear canal," said Dr. Shah.  "It usually happens when the water goes into the ear canal and stays there."

That's why Dr. Shah says you should use ear plugs, shake the water out of the ear, or even use a hair dryer.

"Prevention is keeping the ear canals dry, preventing the water from going in," said Dr. Shah.  "If somebody has signs of infection, pain, swelling, redness to the ear canal, it's better to see your healthcare provider."

Next to swimmer's ear, Dr. Shah says stomach woes connected to ingesting the water are the next biggest cause for complaint.

"The water can go in accidentally.  You're swimming and swallow some water.  Even if it is treated, chlorinated, the chlorine content may not be effective," he said.

Dr. Shah says you can still enjoy water recreationally, but be cautious about getting in your mouth, in an open wound, or in your eyes and ears.

If you do have a swimmer's ear infection, your doctor will typically prescribe antibiotic or steroid ear drops. 

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