5 Tips to Avoid Swimmer's Ear

May 7th 2016

Swimmer's ear is a painful condition, but preventative methods can help to reduce the risk of infection. People who swim regularly are more at risk, but treatment options such as antibiotics or prescription ear drops can help to eliminate infections and safeguard you from additional bacteria that forms in the ear canal.

Keep Your Ears Dry

Moisture that builds up in the ear canal and forms bacteria is one of the primary causes of swimmer's ear. Avoid pain and discomfort resulting from an infection by keeping your ears as dry as possible. Dry your ears after bathing and swimming and gently wipe the insides of your ear with a cloth or soft towel. It may also help to drain water from the ear canal by tipping your head to the side. You can use a blow dryer on a low setting to dry moisture within the ear.

Do Not Insert Objects

Long ago it was common to clean the ears with a cotton swab, but researchers have found that you are more at risk for infection when inserting foreign objects into the ear. Cotton swabs actually pack ear wax and materials deeper into the ear canal, which can break or irritate the skin within the ear. Never scratch your ear or try and dig out ear wax with hairpins or paper clips as these objects can puncture areas of the ear and increase the risk of bacteria causing an infection, such as swimmer's ear.

Make Homemade Ear Drops

Active swimmers can create homemade ear drops to clean the ears and protect from a buildup of wax and moisture. Mix together one part vinegar and one part rubbing alcohol and pour one teaspoon of the mixture into each ear. Let the concoction drain out by tilting your head to the side. However, people with punctured eardrums should avoid any type of ear drops, and it is best to consult your physician prior to using ear drops.

Check pH Levels

Ensure you are swimming in clean and disinfected waters by checking the pH levels at least twice a day. Swimmers at public pools can ask the owners or operators to report the pH levels. Hot tubs and pools cleaned regularly and monitored for bacteria reduce the risk of infection and swimmer's ear for occupants.

Take Precautions

People who wear hearing aids should regularly remove the devices and dry them to avoid moisture buildup. Hearing aids sometimes push ear wax deeper into the canal when moisture is inside the ear canal. You may also want to avoid earbuds as these devices do the same.

Conclusion

Swimmer's ear, also termed otitis externa, is a painful condition that exists due to an infection of the outer ear canal. Swimmer's ear can affect you at any age, but it can be prevented. Learn how to ward off the discomfort with precautionary methods.

Sources

MayoClinic.org "Swimmer's ear prevention" http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/swimmers-ear/basics/prevention/con-20014723
WebMD.com "Understanding swimmer's ear - prevention" http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/ear-infection/understanding-swimmer-ear-prevention
CDC.gov "Swimmer

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