Swimmer’s ear, medically known as acute otitis externa, is an outer ear infection caused by prolonged exposure to moisture. When water is trapped inside the ear canal, it becomes an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, resulting in itchy, painful ears and difficulty hearing.
What Are The Symptoms of Swimmer’s Ear?
- Redness and swelling in the ear canal
- Scaly, peeling skin around the canal
- Tenderness when moving the ear or jaw
- Difficulty hearing
- Swollen lymph nodes
Tips To Prevent Swimmer’s Ear
In order to effectively prevent swimmer’s ear, keep your ears as dry as possible during and after swimming, and limit swimming to chlorinated pools. Chlorine-based pool sanitizers lower your risk of contracting a waterborne illness, including swimmer’s ear.
Follow these specific tips to minimize your risk:
- Keep Your Ears Dry At All Times
Wear a swim cap and/or earplugs while you’re swimming to ensure as little water as possible enters your ears. Afterwards, dry your ears thoroughly with a towel.
- Tilt Your Head
Turn your head from side to side after getting out of the water, and allow gravity to drain excess water from your ears. It also helps to tug on your earlobes to encourage water to drain out.
- Never Remove Ear Wax Yourself
As tempting as it can be to clean your own ears, it’s a task best left to the professionals. Q-tips push ear wax deep into the ear canal, and can lead to painful impaction and diminished hearing. Furthermore, ear wax can actually help protect your ear canal from infection. If your ears feel itchy or full, consult a licensed audiologist for a proper ear cleaning.
Custom swim ear molds can be worn by children and adults for swimming, bathing and showering. They are soft and comfortable to wear, and completely block water from entering the ear canal. For patients who suffer from recurring bouts of swimmer’s ear, custom ear molds may be the best option.
- Avoid Lakes, Rivers, and Ponds
Natural bodies of water are more likely to contain high levels of bacteria, which is why it’s best to stick to chlorinated pools for swimming. If your only option is to swim in a natural body of water, look for signs about bacteria levels to make sure it’s safe to swim in first, and wear ear plugs, molds, or a swimming cap before diving in.
For the past 20 years, Francis Audiology has served patients all over Southwestern PA. We proudly offer custom-made ear molds for swimmers, and guarantee fast service as we use a local laboratory for ear mold fabrication. We can also ship custom ear molds right to your door! Our dedicated team is ready to assist you with all of your hearing health needs. Request an appointment online to be seen by one of our certified audiologists, or call 724-441-8695 today.