Summer is in full swing and there is no better way to combat the afternoon heat than jumping into a pool or lake. While swimming can be a great way to relax at the end of the day and is an excellent form of exercise, it can put your ears at risk of an infection.
What Is Swimmer’s Ear?
An infection in the ear canal known as otitis externa can occur when water enters your ear but does not drain out. The moist environment creates a breeding ground for bacteria.
Symptoms of swimmer’s ear include:
- Hearing loss
For most, the infection is easily diagnosed and treated. When left untreated, the condition can become more serious.
Swimmer’s Ear Treatment
The best thing you can do about swimmer’s ear is prevent it from occurring in the first place. This is done through the use of swimmer’s plugs.
These small silicone earplugs prevent water from entering your ear canal. These earplugs are designed for this specific purpose; they are not interchangeable with the foam plugs used to protect your ears from loud noises.
While silicone earplugs are available at your local pharmacy, custom-made plugs provide superior protection. Created from a mold of your ear, these plugs provide a perfect seal. They also have the added bonus of floating; should they fall out of your ear, you can easily find them.
If you do develop an infection, your doctor may prescribe eardrops with a combination of a steroid to reduce inflammation, an antibiotic to fight bacteria, an acidic solution to restore your ear’s antibacterial environment or an antifungal medication to fight a fungal infection.
Tips for Prevention
Below are four tips to prevent swimmer’s ear from ruining your summer.
- Never stick a foreign object in your ear. Rather than cleaning debris, you will only push it further into the ear, damaging the ear canal.
- Avoid swimming in water with high bacteria levels, as this leads to a greater chance of infection.
- Dry your ears thoroughly after swimming and showering.
- Use swim plugs to prevent water from entering the ear canal
To learn more about protecting your ears this summer or to schedule an appointment, contact the experts at Waco Ear, Nose & Throat.