Swimmer’s Ear – What You Need to Know for Summer

Swimmer’s Ear, also known as Otitis Externa, is an infection caused by water trapped in the outer ear canal that connects your eardrum to the outside of the ear. When the water pools inside the canal, it creates a moist environment for bacterial growth along the thin tissues of the canal. Sometimes Swimmer’s Ear is caused by damaging the thin tissues in the outer canal using cotton swabs, fingers, or other objects.

During the summer, Swimmer’s Ear is very common. It is caused by water from lakes, rivers, pools, or saltwater. Symptoms range from mild to severe, depending upon how much water pools or how long the water has been in the ear canal.

How do you know if your child has Swimmer’s Ear?

Mild or moderate symptoms may include:

  • Itching inside the ear
  • Ear redness on the outside opening of the canal
  • Discomfort when pulling or pushing on the ear
  • Drainage of clear, odorless fluid
  • Partial blockage and feeling of fullness
  • Muffled hearing

If your child starts to experience a fever, severe pain, or swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, see a doctor immediately. Once your child has a fever, the infection is significant enough to require antibiotics or other treatment.

Although your outer ear canals have natural defenses to prevent infection, follow these tips to help avoid Swimmer’s Ear:

  • Avoid water that has high bacteria levels (lakes and rivers).
  • Keep the ears dry; thoroughly dry your ears after swimming and bathing with a soft towel or put a hairdryer on the lowest setting to dry the ear canal.
  • Do not aggressively clean the ear canal with cotton swabs.
  • If you have hearing aids or wear devices such as earbuds or Bluetooth, make sure to clean them after each use.
  • After swimming, use Swimmer’s Eardrops to dry up any water that accumulates out of reach of a cotton swab or hairdryer.

For questions or to schedule an appointment, contact us today: (770) 237-3000.