There’s nothing more refreshing on a hot summer’s day than a dip in the pool, floating the river or making a trip to the lake. However, there are dangers lurking in the waters that you may not realize are there – in the form of microscopic bacteria. When bacteria becomes trapped in the ear canals, it can cause a painful infection known as swimmer’s ear.
What Are the Symptoms of Swimmer’s Ear?
Symptoms of swimmer’s ear are typically mild, especially when treated promptly. Common symptoms include:
- Ear pain
- Feeling of fullness
- Decreased hearing
More severe symptoms are possible and include:
- Pus drainage
- Swollen glands in neck
- Swollen ear canal
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to contact a health professional right away in order to prevent permanent damage.
How Can I Prevent Swimmer’s Ear?
Fortunately, swimmer’s ear can easily be prevented. Follow the tips below to reduce your risk during your next swim.
- Never stick foreign objects in the ears, even in an attempt to remove water. Inserting a cotton swab or other object can force debris further into the ear canal, causing an impaction, or even puncture the eardrum.
- Avoid swimming in water with high bacteria counts. Many popular swimming spots will post signs that say “no swimming” or “high bacteria levels,” but not all. Pay attention and follow your intuition; if a body of water looks murky or is suspiciously deserted, skip the swim.
- Dry your ears immediately after water activities. You can do this by drying the outer ear with a towel, lying on one side to let the water drain out of the canal or drying the ears with a hair dryer on the lowest, coolest setting.
- Use swim plugs. These can be purchased inexpensively at a drug store or custom-made in an audiologist’s office for maximum comfort and protection.
It’s important to note that swimmer’s plugs are not the same as the earplugs you use to go shooting or watch a firework show. Swimmer’s plugs are made of silicone to create a tight seal that won’t hurt your ears.
While retail swim plugs can become loose and fall out while swimming, custom plugs are created from a mold of your outer ear. They also float and are available in bright colors, so if one does accidentally become dislodged, you can easily retrieve it.
Swim plugs can be made for people of any age. They are especially important for children, whose smaller ear canals trap water easily and don’t drain well.
For more information or to schedule an appointment for custom swimmer’s plugs, call the experts at Pinnacle ENT Associates today.