How to Prevent & Treat Swimmer's Ear

September 28, 2017
How to Prevent & Treat Swimmer's Ear

Because they usually require moist environments to survive, bacteria can flourish inside a wet ear. If you or your child spends a lot of time in the water, you should know how to prevent, recognize and treat swimmer's ear.
What Is it?
Most types of swimmer's ear are bacterial infections typically caused by organisms living in soil or water. Usually, the ear can keep infections at bay; but, sometimes its natural defenses become overwhelmed. When this occurs, a number of symptoms can develop, including:

  • Itching inside the ear canal
  • Redness within the ear
  • Mild pain that worsens when you pull your outer ear
  • Some drainage of odorless, clear fluid

If the infection progresses, other more serious symptoms can develop, including increased pain, discharge of pus, muffled hearing and a feeling of fullness in the ear. In advanced cases, swimmer's ear can cause severe pain, fever and even permanent hearing problems.
How Can You Avoid it?
While it’s not always possible to prevent your ear from becoming infected, you can reduce your risk by adhering to the following guidelines:

  • Dry your ears after swimming, using a clean cloth or blow dryer.
  • Avoid swimming in stagnant or tainted bodies of water.
  • Never put foreign objects inside your ear.
  • Place cotton balls inside your ears while using hair sprays and hair dyes.
  • Avoid swimming after suffering an ear infection, a cut within the ear or ear surgery.

When to See a Doctor
It's best to see a doctor if you suspect you have swimmer's ear - even if the symptoms are mild. Treatment can include antibiotics, pain relieving drops and/or acid solutions to help restore the normal antibacterial environment inside the ear.

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