Does Summer Have to Mean Swimmer’s Ear?

posted on: June 7, 2016    |    by: Nina Tarnay

As the temperature rises and summer vacation begins, more and more families spend the day at the pool or beach. With children joining activities such as water sports or junior guards, there is an increase in swimmer’s ear during the summer. But what is swimmer’s ear, and how do you know if you or your child has it?

Also known as otitis externa, swimmer’s ear is an infection of the outer ear canal. Your outer ear canal is a tube that runs from outside your ear, all the way to your inner eardrum. Swimmer’s ear is an infection where water remains in this canal, which creates a moist environment leading to the growth of bacteria. Swimmer’s ear can also be caused by cotton swabs or fingers in the ear which damage the thin layer of skin in the ear canal.

Swimmer’s ear can be diagnosed as mild, moderate or advanced. Mild symptoms include discomfort if you pull on the outer ear, itchiness in the ear canal, slight redness in the ear, and/or some drainage of clear, odorless fluid. If you or your child show any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor for appropriate treatment. If your swimmer’s ear has moderate progression, symptoms include more itchiness, pain, and redness, excessive fluid drainage, discharge of pus, and decreased hearing. If not treated, you may suffer from advanced progression of swimmer’s ear in which symptoms include severe pain throughout your ear, face, neck and head, complete blockage of the ear canal, redness or swelling of your outer ear, swelling in the lymph nodes of your neck, and a fever.

You are at a higher risk of developing swimmer’s ear if you swim frequently, swim in waters with a higher bacteria level such as a lake, have a narrow ear canal, clean your ear roughly with cotton swabs, fingers, etc., and use headphones or hearing aids.

Treatment of swimmer’s ear is usually in the form of ear drops. When inserting the ear drops lie with the infected ear up to ensure that the medication travels through the length of the ear canal. Call WellNow or visit us online to make an appointment if you are concerned that you or your child are suffering from swimmer’s ear.

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