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Monday, August 26, 2013

Monsoon spurs alarming increase in ear infections

Mumbai: Little Snigdha Srivastava has not been her active self lately. The two-year-old hardly plays or even talks much, all she does is cry. A nagging pain in her left ear for four days has made her irritable and cranky. 

    Her mother Nidhi said the trouble started more than a week back, when Snigdha caught a cold. "She has been suffering from a congested upper respiratory tract for about 10 days now. First it was only a mild cold. But lately she not only has problems in breathing, she complains of a earache too. It is difficult for her to sleep. Moreover, she also feels a little disoriented," said Nidhi. 
    Snigdha is only one of the many Mumbaikars complaining of ear infections, ear-nosethroat (ENT) specialists in the city say they have been receiving several patients complaining of ear infections in the last few weeks. Dr Vikas Agarwal, ENT surgeon at BSES Hospital in Andheri, said his team has seen an almost 50% increase in such cases. "While most are viral infections-turned-bacterial, we also have many cases of fungal infections lately," he said. Fungus, said Dr Agarwal, takes advantage of the moisture in the ears—especially during the monsoon. 
    A ear infection may sound minor but can affect a person's productivity, say doctors. "The ears feel blocked and there may be difficulty in hearing. The patients may also find it difficult to concentrate on anything and suffer from irritation and a little disorientation," said Dr Agarwal. 
    Dr Hetal Marfatia, professor of ENT department at the civic-run KEM Hospital said the phenomenon is not new. "We see an increase in the 
number of ear infections every monsoon, especially since the viral respiratory infections go up. Sometimes, a viral respiratory tract infection doesn't get cured and turns into a bacterial infection, which then reaches the ears. It may take a while to treat the infection," she said. 
    Dr Nishit Shah, ENT surgeon from Bombay Hospital emphasized on the impor
tance of timely treatment of the infection. "In case of a fungal infection, we have to clean the ear with special equipment and then give anti-fungal ear drops. It may take up to a few weeks to get cured. The other type needs anti-bacterial drugs and decongestion to clear the infection," he said, adding people should get treatment for a cold before it affects the ears.

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