What to do with Swimmer’s Ear…

In June everyone starts visiting the pools, lakes, and oceans; unfortunately, the fun can sometimes end with swimmer’s ear. Read on to learn more about what it is, how it is treated, and a variety of prevention methods to avoid it happening again.

Healthy Tip Tuesday is brought to you in partnership with Trinity Health Systems.

What is Swimmer’s Ear?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Swimmer’s ear (also known as otitis externa) is an infection of the outer ear canal. Though this infection is most common in children anyone can get it.

Symptoms of swimmer’s ear usually appear within a few days of swimming and include:
  • Itchiness inside the ear.
    • Redness and swelling of the ear.
    • Pain when the infected ear is tugged or when pressure is placed on the ear.
    • Pus draining from the infected ear.
How to prevent or reduce the chances of getting it again
  • Do keep ears as dry as possible.
    • Use a bathing cap, ear plugs, or custom-fitted swim molds when swimming.
  • Do dry ears thoroughly after swimming or showering.
    • Use a towel to dry your ears well.
    • Tilt the head to hold each ear facing down to allow water to escape the
      ear canal.
    • Pull the earlobe in different directions while the ear is faced down to help
      water drain out.
    • Do not put objects in the ear canal (including cotton-tip swabs, pencils, paperclips,
      or fingers).
    • Do not try to remove ear wax. Ear wax helps protect your ear canal from infection.
    • Consult a health care provider about using ear drops after swimming.
    • Consult a health care provider if you have ear pain, discomfort, or drainage from your ears.
    • Ask the pool/hot tub operator if disinfectant and pH levels are checked at least
      twice per day—hot tubs and pools with proper disinfectant and pH levels are less
      likely to spread germs.
    • Use pool test strips to check the pool or hot tub (or spa) for adequate disinfectant and pH levels.

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