Recognize common Swimmer’s Ear symptoms and what you can do about it.
As you splash around in the pool or lake or jet away on your beach vacation this summer, don’t forget to pay attention to your hearing health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Swimmer’s Ear accounts for about 2 million healthcare visits in the United States each year. This common infection can affect both children and adults and can be painful without treatment. In this post, we explain what Swimmer’s Ear is and share common Swimmer’s Ear symptoms, treatment remedies, and what you can do to prevent it.
What is Swimmer’s Ear?
Swimmer’s Ear goes by the medical term otitis externa and is an infection in your ear canal – the tube that runs from the outside of your ear to your eardrum. It is often caused by a type of bacteria found in water and soil, although fungus or virus can also be to blame in rare cases.
Water-related activities are closely linked to Swimmer’s Ear due to the excess moisture that makes its way into the ear after taking a swim, but you can still get this infection on dry land.
Swimmer’s Ear Symptoms
Symptoms of Swimmer’s Ear are initially mild but may get worse if the infection isn’t treated or it spreads. Some common signs of Swimmer’s Ear may include:
- Itchiness in the ear
- Ear pain
- Reduced or muffled hearing
- Fluid or pus drainage
- Slight redness inside the ear
Swimmer’s Ear Treatment
If you experience ear pain and believe Swimmer’s Ear may be the cause, contact your doctor right away. Treatment is needed to stop the infection from spreading or getting worse. Swimmer’s Ear treatment may include eardrops with antibiotics, steroids, or other ingredients to fight the ear infection and help with swelling. Your doctor may also recommend antibiotic pills if your symptoms are more severe.
Ear Protection Tips
Whether you’re taking a dip or enjoying some other summer activity, follow these precautions to help protect your ears against infection:
- Keep your ears as dry as possible by using a swim cap, ear plugs, or custom-fitted swim molds in the pool
- Dry your ears thoroughly after swimming or showering
- Don’t try to remove ear wax at home; consult with your health care provider if you believe you are experiencing ear wax build-up that is impacting your ability to hear
- Don’t put objects in the ear canal, including cotton-tip swabs, pencils, paperclips, or your fingers
- Use pool test strips to check the pool or hot tub for safe disinfectant and pH levels
Review these additional tips on how to take care of your ears here.
Now that you know what Swimmer’s Ear is, you can use these ear protection tips as you enjoy the warm summer season ahead. Find more helpful advice for your hearing health on our blog.
The above information is provided for the education and enjoyment of our readers and is not intended as medical advice. Please check with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.