What is swimmer's ear?

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Don’t let swimmer’s ear drown your child in misery! Learn how to treat it right away!

swimmer’s ear

A child having trouble hearing and is feeling pain in the ear.

Ear infections are rampant in both adults and children. For swimmers, the most common ear infection is aptly called swimmer’s ear. Swimmer’s ear, medically referred to as otitis externa, is an infection that affects the outer ear and the ear canal.

Infection symptoms

One of the most telltale sign of a swimmer’s ear is the pain. If you’ll pull your ears or stick a finger in it, you’ll immediately feel extreme pain. Sometimes, chewing can be painful too. In other cases, the outer ear might become swollen and extremely red.

If your children are suffering from this infection, they may complain about a feeling of fullness in their ear. Their hearing may also be affected, especially if pus is blocking the ear canal.

swimmer’s ear

What swimmer’s ear looks like on the inside

Infection causes

Children and adults who are constantly underwater (pool, natural bodies of water or even shower) are prone to swimmer’s ear. When they retain a lot of moisture in the ear canal, it gives bacteria opportunity to grow.

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Swimmer’s ear can also occur if the lining in the ear canal breaks and fungi or bacteria sneaks in. This usually happens during improper or harsh ear cleaning. Usage of dirty earphones, earplugs and hearing aids can also cause this infection.

Infection treatment

Swimmer’s ear is treatable. As soon as it is accurately diagnosed by the doctor, antibiotic ear drops with steroids will be prescribed. The ear drops are usually used up to 8 to 10 days. If the swelling in the outer ear prevents the ear drops from being effective, a wick may be inserted by the doctor to ensure that the medicine reaches its destination. In case of excessive pus or debris in the ear canal, suctioning may be required.

swimmer’s ear

Make sure to routinely clean your child’s ear.

Home treatments, such as putting hydrogen peroxide or alcohol in the ear, should never be attempted. Always consult your doctor or you might end up permanently damaging the ears. When actively treating swimmer’s ear, it is advised to wear a swimming or shower cap while bathing or showering.

Having swimmer’s ear isn’t really a cause for concern since it can be easily treated. However, if the person suffering from it is constantly dizzy, experiencing double vision or if the swelling extends into the neck, an immediate visit to the doctor is recommended.

Swimmer’s ear prevention

To prevent this infection from inflicting you or anyone in your family, the ears should be gently wiped. If there’s water in the ears, turning the head side to side can help release the trapped fluid out. Nothing should be inserted in the ear except when cleaning it. While usage of Q-tips is allowed, extra care is required. Extra energetic bathers should always wear shower caps when taking a shower or a dip in the tub. When swimming in different bodies of water, personal (not borrowed) ear plugs should always be used.

RELATED: What to do if your child has glue ear

Have you ever experienced swimmer’s ear? Tell us all about it by leaving a comment. For more information on this infection, view this video:

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Written by

Karen Mira