Nothing ruins a relaxing day at the pool like coming home to a case of swimmer’s ear. Enjoy the pool longer this summer with these four helpful tips.
To-mato / To-ma-to
Your doctor may call it acute otitis externa, but most people refer to it as swimmer’s ear. It’s an infection of the outer ear canal that can be caused by two factors. The most common occurs after swimming, water left behind after an underwater adventure creates a new home for invading bacteria. It can also be caused by your fingers or cotton swabs going too deep in your ears and damaging the thin layer of skin in your ear canal.
How to spot the symptoms
Common symptoms to look for are itching inside the ear, pain when you touch your outer ear, drainage, decreased hearing and a sensation that the ear is blocked. If left untreated, swimmer’s ear can result in a temporary loss of hearing, recurring ear infections, or bone and cartilage damage as a result of the infection spreading to the base of your skull or cranial nerves.
How to prevent it
As the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is a pound of cure.” The best way to treat swimmer’s ear is to prevent it. The drier your ears are, the less likely they are to become infected. A dry towel or a hair dryer can get rid of any excess moisture in your ear canal. Ear plugs, ear bands, and swim caps can also help prevent water from getting into your ears when you are swimming for long periods of time.
Contact your doctor if you are experiencing any symptoms of swimmer’s ear to determine the best course of action. The most common form of treatment for swimmer’s ear is ear drops prescribed by your doctor. According to your doctor, you may want to take over-the-counter pain medications to help ease the pain while the antibiotic drops start their work. Remember treating your symptoms quickly may help prevent any further complications or a more serious infection.