Summer has arrived, and with it, lots of opportunities to spend time in the water. Whether you’re at the beach, beside the pool or going to the lake, being in the water can increase the risk of swimmer’s ear, an ear infection resulting from bacteria in the ear canal when moisture is present. Luckily, there are a few ways to avoid it.
Ear Plugs Can Help
When water enters your ear canal and can’t escape, that moisture creates a breeding ground for the bacteria that cause Swimmer’s Ear. Swimming ear plugs can block water from entering your ear canal, getting trapped and causing an issue. Swimming ear plugs can be purchased at retail stores or at your audiologist’s office. Just make sure to get well-fitting plugs so they will be effective.
Dry and Clean
The best way to prevent Swimmer’s Ear is to keep your ear canal dry and clean. Thoroughly dry your ears after swimming, especially if you don’t use swimming ear plugs. Generally, tilting your head and using a towel is sufficient, but a cool hair dryer on low can also be used.
There are several types of ear drops that can be used to help remove moisture from the ear canal after swimming. Common ingredients include olive oil, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol and white vinegar. While each works, some are better than others with repeated use. Rubbing alcohol dry out the ear canal too much, which can cause more problems in the long run. Hydrogen peroxide can kill the “good bacteria” in your ear, which protect against the “bad bacteria,” and back-fire in an infection. Ear drops are not recommended if you have synthetic ear tubes or a ruptured ear drum, and will be ineffective if you have excessive ear wax.
Ear Wax is Your Friend
Ear wax protects our ears, but too little or too much ear wax can also cause a problem. Here are some tips for keeping a healthy balance of ear wax in your ears:
Skin Care Basics
Keeping the skin in and around your ears healthy is important to ear health and infection avoidance. If it is cracked or too dry, infection can result. Always keep your ear canal dry, and don’t ever scratch or cut your ears. Avoid using cotton swabs or anything else that is inserted into the ear canal, because they can go too far and damage the skin or ear drum. Be very gentle when cleaning your ears, and see a doctor if you experience excessive wax.
By following a few simple steps to keep your ears clean and dry, you can greatly reduce your risk of Swimmer’s Ear during these summer months. Regular check-ups are also key to maintaining ear health, and if you suspect you have Swimmer’s Ear or another infection, call your audiologist for further assistance.
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