Seema Shetty, 35, covers her ears every time she steps out in the rain. Just a week ago, Shetty suffered a fungal infection of the ear.
“My left ear started paining and by the third day, the ache became unbearable and I showed it to the doctor. He told me that the infection had developed due to the increased moisture in the air which is common during the monsoons,” said Shetty, a resident of Chembur.
“Fungal infections in the ears are very common during the monsoons due to the dampness in the air, unhygienic conditions and poor cleaning of ears. We are visited by at least four to five such patients daily,” said Dr Dinesh Vaidya, professor at the ear, nose and throat (ENT) department, Somaiya Hospital, Sion.
Symptoms of a fungal ear infection include itching, pain, blockage and heaviness in the ear and a white, watery discharge. Doctors say they are witnessing a rise in the number of women contracting fungal infections.
“We are seeing more women coming in with infections of the inner ear as well as around the pinna (outer ear). Out of eight patients coming to the hospital every day, at least four are females,” said Dr Ninad Gaikwad, ENT specialist, Nair Hospital.
Doctors attribute this to the fact that women have long hair due to which water tends to get into the ear canal more often than in the case of men.
Apart from fungal infections, doctors are also observing middle ear infections as a result of collection of fluid in the area. Patients usually suffer from upper respiratory tract infections and cold leading to middle ear infections, said doctors. “In middle ear infections, the pain gradually starts and tends to get worse. If not treated in time, it can rupture the ear drums,” said Gaikwad.
Doctors advise keeping the ears clean and dry and advise strong personal hygiene.
“People who are diabetic and those with low immunity are more prone to falling prey to such infections,” said Dr Meenesh Juvekar, consultant, ENT surgeon, Bombay Hospital.