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Swimmer's Ear” is a Risk of Summer Fun!

by Susan Fenrich

Photo credit: greyerbaby from morguefile.com

When you think of Summer Fun in Sheboygan County you think of water sports. Whether you like to go down the water slide at a local swimming pool, jump in one of the many lakes for a swim, or go water-skiing, or wind-surfing, you are putting your hearing health at risk.

By James Heilman, MD (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 ( http://creative commons.org/lic enses/by/3.0) ], via Wikimedia Commons

Otitis Externa is an infectious condition of the outer ear brought on by prolonged exposure to bacteria in the outer ear canal which extends from the outer opening of the ear canal to the eardrum. This type of infection is commonly known as Swimmer's Ear because it is often caused by swimming. Bacteria may come from: sand, grit, or other small debris, water, excessive sweat, and humidity. It is often brought on by water that remains in the ear after swimming creating a moist environment that aids bacterial growth.

The same thing can happen with just lingering shower water. In fact, if you flush your own ears to remove cerumen (earwax), it is best to use distilled water since both city and well water contain bacteria that can cause this type of outer ear canal infection. If you like diving off of cliffs, or diving boards, the force of hitting the water can make the water go deep into the ear canal down by the eardrum. If the dive is hard and takes you too deep, you can even rupture on eardrum from the build-up of pressure beyond the eardrum.

With Swimmer's Ear your ear canal first starts feeling itchy and becomes inflamed. It is at this point it should be treated by an over-the-counter or a home remedy. One home remedy is made of equal part of vinegar (prevents bacteria growth), and rubbing alcohol (to help evaporate the moisture). If this doesn't help than antibiotics may be needed and a physician should be seen. If left untreated, the ear can: become extremely painful, drain fluid, have an odor, and become swollen shut. In extreme cases the infection can spread beyond the ear canal causing swollen lymph nodes and fever.

Avoiding Swimmers Ear is easy and well worth the expense.

Soft silicon putty like ear plugs designed to keep water out can be purchased at Wal-Mart or Walgreen's. If they are used too many times they will get pretty dirty. Wearing custom swimming earplugs offers the best protection for the swimmers ears. It is best to order custom earplugs from a licensed hearing care provider, as the professionals at Welsch Hearing Aid Company.

The content contributions of Welsch Hearing Aid Company should not be considered by anyone as a substitute for medical or other hearing health professional diagnosis, treatment, advice, or recommendations.