Preventing Swimmer’s Ear
With summertime upon us, many Americans are seeking relief from the heat by taking to the water and diving into the nearest pool or other natural offerings, like lakes, oceans or rivers. For this reason, a common summertime malady is swimmer’s ear, which is an infection of the outer ear canal that can cause pain and discomfort for swimmers of all ages.
In order to avoid this pain and discomfort, there are several steps you can take to minimize your risk, including:
- Keep your ears as dry as possible while swimming by using a bathing cap, ear plugs, or custom-fitted swim molds
- After swimming, dry your ears as thoroughly as possible using a towel to wipe your outer ear and then tilting your head to one side to allow water to drain from your ear canal
- Do not insert any objects into the ear canal (this includes cotton-tip swabs, hair pins or fingers)
- Consult your physician about using alcohol-based ear drops to help dry out additional moisture and prevent infection
If your ears feel itchy, flaky, swollen or painful, or if you have drainage from your ears, contact your healthcare provider, as these symptoms are indications of infection. In some cases, ear infections are so extreme that they require surgery. One of the most commonly performed ear surgeries is to repair a perforated eardrum. In addition to aiding with hearing, the eardrum also protects the middle ear so debris and bacteria do not enter the middle ear.
Some perforations will heal spontaneously without any surgical intervention. However, surgery is often required to close the perforation. This operation can be performed on all age groups and is typically an outpatient procedure that does not require a patient to stay overnight in the hospital. During the procedure, most patients will receive general anesthesia so that they are asleep and pain-free.
If you think you or your child may be suffering from any ear infection or you are interested in having your ears checked for perforated eardrums, consult your physician today.