31 Aug 2012

Medical team overwhelmed by Marshall Islands demand

1:25 pm on 31 August 2012

An American ear, nose and throat surgeon says the demand has been overwhelming from hundreds of Marshall Islanders suffering from ear infections.

Dr Charles Stewart III says he and the Canvasback medical team have given free treatment to over 400 patients in eight days at the Majuro Hospital's outpatient clinic.

He says many children are getting recurrent untreated infections from swimming, leaving them with serious ear problems and hearing loss.

"These kids are in the water all the time and they had draining ears. A lot of it was just chronic ear infections with perforations. And that was a surprise, the number of perforations I saw. Occasionally an otitis externa, just an infection in the outer ear. But most of the time it just seemed like these kids had perforations ongoing for many years."

Dr Stewart says people need to leave their ears alone and stop using cotton sticks because this only jams in the wax, making it harder for both patients and doctors.