When summer is in full swing, many people turn to water activities in order to beat the heat. While a refreshing dip provides relief from blistering temperatures, water can pose a hazard to your hearing. By taking precautions and wearing swim plugs before entering the swimming pool, lake or ocean, you can prevent infection and other potential damage to your ears.
You may not see a need for swim plugs, but the problem comes from what you don’t see. That body of water may appear benign and inviting, but danger often lurks beneath the surface in the form of microscopic bacteria. These germs can enter the ear canals and cause a painful infection known as otitis externa, or swimmer’s ear. This causes itching, swelling and fluid drainage and may lead to chronic infections and hearing loss if left untreated. Antibiotics are usually needed to clear up the infection.
Another source of concern for those who frequent the water is exostosis, or surfer’s ear. Exposure to cold water and wind can cause abnormal bone growth in the ear canal, resulting in a blockage or infection and, eventually, long-term conductive hearing loss. This condition most often requires surgical treatment.
Fortunately, swimmer’s ear, surfer’s ear and other infections associated with water activities are easily prevented by wearing swim plugs. These are made of waterproof silicone and create a tight seal that prevents water from entering the ear canals. Custom swim plugs, fashioned from molds of your ear canals, offer the best fit and protection. One of our audiologists can help you select a pair just right for you!