Spring has finally started to move into summer! In the Midwest, summer seems to run at a fast and furious pace, with everyone trying to squeeze in as much fun as possible during the warm weather. Often this means lake time or pool time, or maybe even a trip to a more exotic place by the ocean. More exposure to water means a greater risk of developing swimmer’s ear. Swimmer’s ear is also known as Otitis externa, and it is considered an infection in the ear canal caused by stagnant water left behind after swimming, and sometimes after bathing (although the latter is uncommon). Symptoms can appear within a few days of swimming, and it’s more common in children than adults, although it can affect anyone.
1. Swelling or redness of the ear
2. Itchiness inside the ear
3. Pus or fluid drainage
4. Constant pain, or pain and discomfort when touching or tugging the ear
Swimmer’s ear can’t be spread from person to person. Germs found in pools or other swimming areas can get into your ear and grow in the moist environment of the ear canal, leading to infection. Fortunately, swimmer’s ear can easily be treated with antibiotic eardrops from a healthcare provider.
What you can do to prevent swimmer’s ear:
1. Dry your ears completely after swimming or showering: Dry off with a towel first, then tilt your head for a few moments to each side. This allows any trapped water to drain from your ear canals. To help remove any extra water, tug on the earlobes while your head is tilted.
2. Avoid inserting objects into your ears: This includes cotton swabs, fingers, or anything else. This could damage the thin layer of skin lining the ear canal and when combined with the extra moisture, provide a place for bacteria to grow.
3. Leave earwax alone: Earwax is there for a reason! It helps prevent infection and keeps dust or other particles away from the eardrum. If you think you have an earwax blockage, try removing it at home using over-the-counter ear wax drops or stop in to our office at Adaptive Audiology Solutions. We have a state-of-the-art ear flushing system that is gentle and provides immediate results.
4. For those that have had past problems with swimmer’s ear, a drop of rubbing alcohol can cause water to evaporate in the canal and prevent infections. Please note: Those who have ear tubes, damaged eardrums, or infections should not use eardrops without guidance.
If you have chronic swimmer’s ear, the best thing you can do to prevent swimmer’s ear is to use custom-fit swim plugs. Our audiologist at Adaptive Audiology Solutions can make impression of your ears and order custom made earplugs for you.
One product we offer is the DefendEar AquaNot swim plugs. They are 100% American-made from the finest floatable silicone and are available in a wide range of fun and vibrant colors. Ideal for swimming and watersports, AquaNot swim plugs float and are guaranteed to prevent water from entering the ear canal.
While it isn’t likely that you are a surfer if you live in the Midwest, you may still benefit from the DefendEar Surfer earpieces if you are one of those people that like to jump into the water the minute the ice breaks! The Surfer is designed to prevent the surfer’s ear and swimmer’s ear growths in the ear canal called exostoses, which are caused by exposure to extreme cold water. The floatable material is molded with a sealed membrane spanning the sound bore that keeps cold water and air out of the ear canal but allows for conversation and hearing while the earpiece is in the ear. These earpieces can even be used for other activities, like skiing and snowboarding.
Follow these tips so that you and your family can keep the water out and the fun in while enjoying the watersports you love all summer long. For more information on custom earplugs to protect your ears, contact Adaptive Audiology Solutions at 712-775-2625 or book an appointment on our website!