What is Swimmer’s Ear?
Swimmer’s ear is an extremely common infection of the outer ear. It is caused when a person accidentally lets contaminated water into his or her ear. As you can probably guess, this happens rather often. Typically, swimmer’s ear strikes when a person has been swimming in dirty water. That said, you can even be infected just by getting water in your ear during a regular shower or bath. When this water becomes trapped in your ear canal, it quickly transforms into a perfect breeding ground for bacteria or fungi. The risk of infection increases the longer that water stays in your ear!.
Who Is at Risk for Swimmer’s Ear?
As we mentioned, swimmer’s ear is very common. It can happen to anyone, but typically it tends to affect children and teens the most. In addition, the shape of certain peoples’ ears may cause them to be more susceptible to infection. Their ear canal shape can make it easy for water to become trapped inside.
Taking this a step further, certain behavior can put you at greater risk for any infection. Here are a few risk factors to avoid:
- Ear wax can be helpful for preventing swimmer’s ear. Believe it or not, ear wax repels water. It’s a natural defense! Therefore, don’t clean your ears more excessively than necessary.
- To that end, be careful with cotton swabs. In fact, inserting any foreign objects into your ears can put you at greater risk of infection.
How Can I Prevent Swimmer’s Ear?
Before you take a dip, there are a number of things you can do to help prevent infection.
Try using earplugs.
Since water in your ear canals is what you’re trying to avoid, why not eliminate the whole problem? Try using earplugs or a bathing cap. This should prevent any liquid from getting into your ears!
Only swim in clean water!
Be sure that the water is clean before jumping in. As we said earlier, contaminated water can be dangerous. Try to avoid swimming in public and open water locations, such as lakes and community pools. If you’re not sure if the water is clean, avoid it!
Take Care When You’re OUT of the Pool!
Once you’re done swimming, you’re not done preventing swimmer’s ear! Be sure to dry off thoroughly. Rub both the inside and outside of your ear with a clean towel. To be doubly sure, tilt your head to one side and allow any excess water to leak out.
Finally, some over-the-counter ear drops might just do the trick. If you’re susceptible to ear infections, pick up some of these helpful aids. A quick drop in each ear can help to dry up any liquid that’s possibly lingering. For best results, ask another person to help you apply the drops.
Lay on your side so that your ear is facing up, then have them release a few drops into your ear canal. Continue to lay on your side for a few minutes to make sure they’re working their magic, then switch sides and repeat.
As with all swimming activities, it’s always better to be safe instead of sorry!