What’s Going Around: Croup, summer colds, swimmer’s ear

What's Going Around

UPMC Express Care providers are seeing patients with swimmers’ ear. This is an infection in the ear canal that is often triggered by water in the ear from swimming. The water allows bacteria to grow and the skin of the ear canal becomes infected causing pain, redness, and swelling of the ear canal.

Sometimes the pain is only noticeable when you push on the outside of the ear, but as the infection worsens you will see swelling of the opening to the ear canal and white drainage or debris in the canal. If the infection worsens you may even develop a fever or pain down to the jaw. There are ear drops over the counter that are meant to prevent swimmers’ ear, but these drops do not treat an infection. If you are having ear pain, swelling, or draining you should see your medical provider as a prescription antibiotic drop could be needed.

Prevention of swimmers’ ear is keeping the ear canal dry. After swimming, dry the ear out with a towel, and there may be benefit from using a few drops of rubbing alcohol or the over the counter drops after every swim to help dry the water out that is left behind.

Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health Physicians Roseville Pediatrics is seeing fevers, croup, seasonal allergies, strep throat, a stomach bug and roseola this week.

Dr. Joan Thode offered the following advice about croup:

“Croup is a condition where a virus causes acute inflammation at the level of the vocal cords. This can give a child the sense of not being able to get the air in. Because of this, the child will try to take larger and deeper breaths, pulling the air faster through the small space and vibrating the vocal cords, creating a voice-like sound called stridor. The classic cough of croup sounds like a seal bark.

Croup does not always need to be treated. If the child can remain calm and keep their breathing under control, observation and supportive care during the viral symptoms are all that is needed. But if the croup is severe and the breathing space between the vocal cords is very small, steroids are sometimes needed to acutely relieve the inflammation and open the space between the cords.

Croup is most often experienced by kids younger than 6. Older kids tend not to get croup because the diameter of their airway increases as they grow. However, rarely older children can get this condition as well, known as spasmodic croup. It is treated the same way, with supportive care and sometimes steroids.

Croup notoriously worsens at night, so if your child is showing some signs of hoarse voice, barky cough or stridor during the day, it’s recommended that you have them evaluated or at least make your pediatrician aware. It’s also important to know what number to call to speak with your child’s doctor after the office closes for the evening.

The CVS MinuteClinic in York saw an increase in demand for wellness checks, vaccines and flu shots. They also saw a few minor skin infections and urinary tract infections.

Penn State Children’s Hospital is seeing summer colds and back-to-school anxiety this week.

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