We're checking in with our pros again this week with timely question about swimmer's ear and important information about protecting your family's future in case of emergencies.


My child has been diagnosed with Swimmer's Ear. What is it and how did he get it?

Swimmer's Ear, aka Otitis Externa, is a fairly common infection of the external auditory canal that spikes during the summer months due to an increase in swimming, water play, and humidity. When water that enters the ear canal does not drain properly, trapped water sets up the ear for infection, particularly if the skin in the ear canal is scratched or irritated by a finger or q-tip.

Children ages 5-9 seem to get this more frequently. They often complain of pain, a feeling of fullness in the ear, decreased hearing, and may notice white/yellow/green discharge coming out from the ear canal. Treatment is achieved through a 7-10 day course of antibiotic ear drops and an OTC pain reliever until pain subsides (typically 48 hours after initiation of antibiotic drops).

The best way to prevent these types of ear infections is to make sure your child drains water from the ear canals completely after swimming or bathing. Have them tilt their head until it drains out, use a hair dryer on the lowest heat setting, and/or use alcohol based ear drops (found in grocery stores and pharmacies) after swimming to evaporate excess water. Avoid the use of q-tips.

Your child can most certainly enjoy the summer, swimming and all without being sidelined for too long by Swimmer's Ear.


Medical Pro, Melissa Arca

Melissa Arca, M.D. is a board certified pediatrician, mom of two, writer, and blogger who has found her passion in writing and speaking about parenting and children's health. She realizes that parenting is not an exact science and offers her practical tips on handling common parenting dilemmas. In addition, she loves educating parents and children about their health and ways to improve it.

She authors a weekly Dr.Mom column in The Sacramento Bee and appears weekly on KCRA with Dr.Mom tips on a variety of pediatric health topics. Her blog, Confessions of a Dr.Mom, is truly the place where doctor and mom collide.

Dr.Arca received her undergraduate degree from UC Irvine and went on to obtain her medical degree from USC Keck School of Medicine. She completed her pediatric residency in 2003 from Children's Hospital Los Angeles and is a member of the AAP Council on Communication and Media.

She lives in Northern California with her husband and children, ages 4 and 6. They visit the ocean any free chance they get.


I read your post about buying life insurance, but what about other types of insurance policies? What else should parents have besides medical?

Becoming a parent sure makes you focus in on your financial future, doesn't it?

If you and your partner have already purchased adequate life insurance — meaning that if something were to happen to either or both of you, there'd be enough money to pay for your children's college education and to live comfortably until they were through with school — then you should definitely consider several other types of insurance policies as well.

Let's start with disability insurance. Parents may overlook this one for a couple of reasons. First, we think that our most valuable financial asset is our home, or our cars, or our retirement account. But really, it's our ability to earn a living. Ask yourself: would you and your family really be able to maintain your standard of living if your main earner ever became too sick to work or was in a serious accident and had to take an extended absence from their job?

Think about the past few years, and all the home foreclosures taking place across the country. Studies show that a significant number of them are due to medical illnesses or injuries, and that people end up declaring bankruptcy or just don't have the money to keep their homes. In fact, some studies show that almost 20% of Americans will become disabled for one year or more at some point during their working years. Pretty scary for parents! But disability insurance provides a source of replacement income until you or your spouse is able to go back to work, and hopefully protects you from losing your home or your ability to live your daily life if one of you has a serious injury or illness.

It's also super important to sit down and look over your homeowners or renters insurance policy. After all, new babies usually bring lots of new stuff. So make sure you have enough coverage to replace all of that new baby furniture.

A general warning here: do not get intimidated by the teeny-weeny print and all the legal mumbo jumbo on your contract. Never hesitate to pick up the phone and talk to a live insurance agent. It's their job to go over all the paperwork with you, and to explain everything clearly so you know exactly what you've purchased and if you need to buy more for your family.

Last but certainly not least, talk to your agent about an umbrella policy. It gives you additional liability coverage (on top of your homeowners, renters and/or auto insurance), in case you're sued by somebody one day. Unfortunately, the cost of defending yourself and any judgment against you could end up being more than the coverage you have under your more basic policies. And now that you're a parent, you really can't afford to take any chances.


Legal Pro, Jacoba Urist

Jacoba Urist, Esq. is a health and business journalist in New York City. She's currently runs her own family finance consultant practice and is working on a book, The Happiest Parent, about estate planning and personal finance, specifically for parents.

Jacoba earned her Juris Doctorate from New York University in 2002 as well as her Masters in Taxation in 2004. She also has a Masters from The Johns Hopkins University Institute for Policy Studies where she studied economic and regulatory issues. Her writing has appeared on MSN Money and TODAY.com, and she regularly contributes to the Huffington Post.