Swimmer’s ear is an infection in your ear that is caused by bacteria that is commonly found in water. Ear wax and the slope of your ear canal are natural defenses to clean and prevent swimmer’s ear, but sometimes they can get overwhelmed. If excess moisture remains in your ear, swimmer’s ear can develop. Other types of ear infections cause pain inside the ear, but swimmer’s ear causes pain when the outside of the ear is touched.
Symptoms of swimmer’s ear
- Itching in your ear canal
- Slight redness inside your ear
- Mild discomfort that’s made worse by pulling on your outer ear or pushing on the little “bump” in front of your ear
- Some drainage of clear, odorless fluid
- Feeling of fullness inside your ear and partial blockage of your ear canal by swelling, fluid and debris
- Decreased or muffled hearing
Tips to help prevent swimmer’s ear
- Swimmer’s ear can be prevented by using the corner of a washcloth or towel to dry ears after swimming. If a hair dryer is available, use the low setting and place the dryer about one foot away from the ear to dry it.
- Never use a cotton swab to clean or dry the ear canal because it can damage the ear drum.
- After swimming, tilt and shake your head to drain water from your ears.
- Avoid swimming in dirty water. If you swim in a lake or stream, rinse your ears out afterward with clean water or the solution mentioned above.
- If you wear a hearing aid, take it out as often as possible to give your ear a chance to dry out; a hearing aid can push wax deeper into the ear canal.
- You can get over-the-counter ear drops to prevent swimmer’s ear, but these should not be used on children who have ear tubes, ruptured eardrums or have had ear surgery.
If you or your child believe you have swimmer’s ear, please contact Advanced ENT & Allergy to
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