Avoiding Swimmer’s Ear

The summer heat and humidity is luring people of all ages to the pool. While that’s cool, what is not fun is the discomfort of water trapped in your ear.

Some people are more prone to developing infections in their ear canals, also known as swimmer’s ear.  If you are one of those people, keeping your ear dry can help decrease the likelihood of infection.

Most ears are formed in a way that water drains out on its own. Infection can set in if there is a scratch in lining of ear canal (like from using Qtips), or if water is trapped in ear canal, which can occur with wax buildup. The infection forms in the skin that lines the ear canal.

So after you’ve tried bending you head to the side with no success, CNC Hearing and Balance Center’s Sarah McGuire, NP, APRN, has a few tips to help.

  • Dry your ear after swimming with a hairdryer set on low heat and speed.
  • Qtips are NOT an option. Never stick anything into your ear canal. The risk of perforation is too great.  It is simply not worth the risk. Not only is there a chance of putting a hole in your eardrum, the skin that lines the ear canal can be scratched and increase the chance of developing an infection.
  • Alcohol-based products are available over-the-counter, but be cautious about using them. If there is a hole in eardrum some home remedies can do damage.
  • Ear plugs are an option but they are not 100 percent effective in blocking moisture unless custom-made. Our audiologists can custom-fit ear plugs for frequent swimmers.

If the ear is painful or starts draining fluid, it needs medical attention.

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