With summer officially upon us, a lot of us are going out and beating the heat with a good swim. Swimming, of course, is not entirely without risk, and one issue that can occur is swimmer’s ear, or otitis externa as it’s known medically. About 10% of people will experience this in their lifetime, and it’s most common in kids and the elderly. Let’s go over the causes and treatment of this painful condition, as well as some tips for preventing it.
Causes and symptoms
Any of the following may indicate swimmer’s ear:
-Sharp pain in your ear, especially when you move or touch the outer ear
-Scaly skin in and around the ear canal
-Itching or irritation
-Discharge from the ear
-Swelling of the ear
-Temporary hearing loss or muffled hearing may also occur as the ear swells.
The ear canal is delicate, and any scratches from foreign objects (including cotton swabs) or prolonged exposure to water can cause it to be compromised. When this happens, it’s easy for bacteria or fungi to enter and cause inflammation due to infection.
How to Prevent Swimmer’s Ear
Avoid swimming in questionable or polluted water. If you swim often, look into an ear dryer and/or alcohol drops or acetic acid drops. All of these things can dry out your ear quickly to lessen the likelihood that swimmer’s ear will develop. If you feel a little mild ear pain, avoid swimming or washing your hair for a while until symptoms disappear; you may be able to head off a more serious case of swimmer’s ear. Whatever you do, never insert cotton swabs past the visible part of your outer ear.
If you think you may have swimmer’s ear, contact us here for a consultation. We can go over your symptoms and advise you on what the next steps will be.