Summer, as your local weatherman knows, is just around the corner. But before you engage in your summer activities like going to the beach or indulging in a cone of ice cream, know that there are some disastrous things that may happen. For instance, since you and your family will most likely be visiting the beach or a swimming pool to cool off this season, it cannot be helped that all of you are at risk of swimmer’s ear.
What Is Swimmer’s Ear?
Swimmer’s ear, or Otitis Externa, is a bacterial infection of the outer ear brought about by liquid that remains in your ear, commonly after swimming, hence the name. It is most common in children, so it is best to keep an eye out for this infection when your kids are spending time soaking in the sea or in a pool.
Although it is easily treatable, one should not use cotton swabs, bobby pins, or any similar object when trying to remedy swimmer’s ear, as it may scratch the delicate skin of their ear and allow fungi or bacteria inside.
How Do I Avoid It?
Keep Your Ears Dry: Before your kid goes out for a swim, he or she could wear a bathing cap or earplugs to keep the ear canals dry. After your child gets wet, tip his or her head to the side so that the water will drip out of the ear. A soft cloth or towel can also be used to wipe off the moisture from their outer ear. If you have access to a hair dryer, it can also help dry excess moisture from one’s ears. Simply put it in the lowest setting and hold it 12 inches away from the ear.
Maintain Proper Earwax Levels: Earwax, or cerumen, actually repels water, so it is best not to clean your ears completely in order to leave some defense against swimmer’s ear.
Ear Drops: Ear drops can also be a good prevention tactic against otitis externa, as long as the ear drums of the victim are not punctured. Apply a couple drops to your child’s ear after he or she takes a dip so that excess water dries up and infection is prevented. A homemade solution of 1 part vinegar and 1 part rubbing alcohol can do the trick if no over-the-counter medication can be acquired.
Antibiotics: Swimmer’s ear is usually solved with a course of antibiotics. Medicines such as Xtoro or Finafloxacin are typically prescribed and the patient should keep taking the prescription until the doctor instructs him or her to stop. Getting off medication prematurely may not only invite the bacteria back, but also strengthen it, making it harder to treat.
Use Caution: One of the best preventive measures for swimmer’s ear is to simply be cautious. Be wary of swimming in dirty water and, if you are on medication or you recently underwent ear surgery, communicate with your doctor about swimming before you make impractical decisions.
Summer is understood to be the season of fun in the sun (and sea), and infections such as swimmer’s ear shouldn’t rain on your family’s parade. Be aware of the risks and the ways to prevent this condition so that your family can spend the warmer weeks as joyfully and worry-free as you planned. For more information about swimmer’s ear, contact Beltone Audiology at (888) 210-5846.