Otitis and Gastrointestinal Infections, the Most Common Emergencies for Children during the Summer


 Alicante and Murcia Region, July 4, 2019. Long days in the pool and on the beach are the origin of otitis and gastrointestinal infections in children, two of the most common reasons for visits to Accident & Emergency during the summer, state the specialists at Quirónsalud.

Otitis is an infection of the auditory canal, which transports sound from outside the body to the eardrum; its cause is the proliferation of fungi or bacteria that cause the infection. “This type of infection,” points out Doctor Laura Parra, Head of Paediatric Accident & Emergency at Quirónsalud Alicante, “tends to be very recurrent during summer vacations, especially in children that spend a lot of time in the water. If there is significant moisture in the auditory canal, the ear can become irritated and the skin on the canal can break, which allows the bacteria and fungi that cause these infections to enter and proliferate.” As for the most common symptoms presented by children with otitis, we see pain, which can be very intense and is often aggravated by pulling and even brushing the pinna, discharge and occasionally fever.

In order to avoid otitis, Doctor Parra recommends “always using ear plugs, as long as they obstruct the auditory canal completely, or also the application, in children older than three, of a drop to the point of saturation, every night, of a solution of alcohol and boric acid, which is available at chemists, if swimming will be frequent. The use of swimming caps, while they do not prevent water from getting into the ears, is convenient for hygiene if the pool is very full.”

In the summer, the odds of children getting gastrointestinal infections are also higher, especially those of viral origin, such as adenovirus and rotavirus, which are most commonly contracted through faecal-oral contact, “ due to which we make sure, as much as possible, that children do not swallow water in small public pools, and make sure they wash their hands every time they go to the toilet, especially in children younger than five, whose incidence is greater,” warns Doctor Adalgisa de Caro, Paediatrician at Hospital Quirónsalud Murcia. The symptoms of this type of infection are a greater number of bowel movements and abdominal pain, of varying intensity, around the navel, associated to vomiting and fever.

The specialist at Quirónsalud Murcia insists that we must be vigilant for signs of dehydration, such as a dry tongue, reduced activity in the child, crying without tears, the presence of sunken eyes and scant urine, and go to Accident & Emergency if the child is continuously vomiting.

Doctor de Caro recommends, in case of gastrointestinal infection, maintaining the child well hydrated, preferably with rehydration fluid bought at a chemist. “We should not use home-made solutions, such as lemonade with baking soda, or commercial sodas, to replace lost fluids, since they aggravate gastroenteritis and may cause severe, and even lethal complications,” advises Doctor Parra.

Tips to enjoy Safe Holidays in the Water

Doctor María Mínguez, Head of the Paediatric Service at Quirónsalud Torrevieja, recommends following these guidelines in order to enjoy days in the beach and in the pool with our young ones without suffering any scare:

 Maintain direct supervision at all times, especially in the case of small children, even if they are wearing water wings or have flotation devices, but also of older children, especially if they can already swim.

  • Protect them from the sun, and apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before exposure to the sun, and renewing the application every hour and a half to two hours.
  • Prevent so-called digestion interruption by getting in the water little by little, and waiting around two hours to swim after a heavy meal.
  • Have them wear swimming goggles to avoid conjunctivitis, whether it is caused by infection of irritation from chlorine.
  • Wearing sandals to walk through showers and moist areas, since with the heat, damp areas become a significant source of fungal infections.
  • Dry their ears well when they come out of the water, to avoid otitis.


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