Summer was just here, which means it was time to hit the pool or beach to cool off from the heat. However, spending too much time in the water can lead to an uncomfortable and painful condition known as swimmer’s ear. Swimmer’s ear is an infection of the outer ear canal caused by water remaining in the ear after swimming or bathing. To ensure you can enjoy your time in the water safely, here are some tips to help you avoid swimmer’s ear.
1. Keep Your Ears Dry
One of the most effective ways to prevent swimmer’s ear is to keep your ears dry. After swimming, tilt your head to the side and gently tug on your earlobe to help drain any water that may have entered your ear canal. Use a clean, dry towel to gently dry the outside of your ears. Additionally, wearing earplugs can help keep water out of your ears while swimming.
It’s important to note that some people are more prone to getting swimmer’s ear than others. If you have a history of ear infections or have narrow ear canals, you may be more susceptible to getting swimmer’s ear. In these cases, it’s especially important to take extra precautions to keep your ears dry.
2. Use Alcohol and Vinegar Drops
If you are prone to swimmer’s ear, you can use a mixture of equal parts rubbing alcohol and white vinegar to help prevent infections. The mixture helps dry out any moisture in the ear canal and restore the ear’s natural acidity level, making it more difficult for bacteria to grow. Tilt your head to one side and use a dropper to put a few drops of the mixture into your ear. Let it sit for a minute or two before tilting your head to the other side to let the mixture drain out. Be sure to do this after swimming or bathing.
It’s important to note that this remedy should only be used if you do not have a perforated eardrum or any other ear conditions. Additionally, this remedy should not be used as a substitute for seeking medical attention if you have symptoms of swimmer’s ear.
3. Avoid Dirty Water
Swimming in dirty water can increase your risk of developing swimmer’s ear. Avoid swimming in lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water that are known to be contaminated. If you are swimming in a pool, make sure the water is properly maintained and chlorinated to prevent bacteria growth.
It’s important to note that even if the water looks clean, it may still harbor harmful bacteria. If you are unsure about the cleanliness of the water, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid swimming.
4. Wear a Swim Cap
Wearing a swim cap can help keep water out of your ears while swimming. This is especially important for those who are prone to swimmer’s ear or have a history of ear infections.
It’s important to note that not all swim caps are created equal. Some are designed specifically to keep water out of the ears, while others may not provide adequate protection. Look for a swim cap that is made of a material that is comfortable to wear and fits snugly over your ears.
5. Seek Medical Attention
If you do develop swimmer’s ear, it’s important to seek medical attention right away. Symptoms of swimmer’s ear include itching, redness, and pain in the ear canal. Your doctor may prescribe ear drops or oral antibiotics to help clear the infection. It’s important to note that if left untreated, swimmer’s ear can lead to more serious complications, such as hearing loss or damage to the bones in the ear.
By following these tips, you can enjoy your time in the water without having to worry about developing swimmer’s ear. Remember to always practice good hygiene and seek medical attention if you experience any symptoms of an ear infection. If you or a loved one do get an ear infection, contact us today to schedule a medical house call and receive care from a board-certified medical practitioner from the comfort of your home.