Posted on Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Swimmer's Ear and Hearing Loss

Child in surf protects his ears with earplugs.

As the warmer weather eases into summer, people around the country are heading to the pool, the lake, or the beach. Swimming is great exercise and a wonderful sport, but exposure to water for longer periods of time can lead to swimmers ear, an infection of the outer ear and ear canal or what is medically referred to as otitis externa.

Swimmer's ear can be extremely painful. That's because bacteria has gotten inside the ear canal and caused an infection that has swollen and inflamed tissue. Often the ear will become so inflamed that it is painful to the touch. It may also exhibit signs of drainage. Treatment for swimmer's ear varies based on the severity. If the condition becomes severe enough, ear drops with antibiotics may be prescribed. In addition to the pain and discomfort of swimmer's ear the inflammation can become extreme enough to block sound. Reduction in the ability to hear can cause difficulty in everyday life for adults and children. This is true of even temporary hearing loss. Temporary hearing loss for children has been shown to contribute to difficulty with learning, so it's important to treat symptoms of swimmer's ear immediately, and even more important to take safety measures to prevent swimmer's ear.

Preventing Swimmer's Ear

To avoid swimmer's ear the use of earplugs are recommended, especially for those who are engaged in water sports. If you find traditional earplugs do not work for you or your child, an audiologist or hearing health specialist can make custom earplugs to fit securely within the ear canal. In addition to taking the time to have custom earplugs made, it is recommended that people avoid cleaning their ears by inserting cotton swabs, avoid sticking fingers or any other objects inside the ear, and seek medical intervention for excessive earwax. Below is advice on another way to prevent swimmer's ear.

If you'd like to learn more about preventing swimmer's ear or custom earplugs, see your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a qualified hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!

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