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Swimmer’s Ear: What It Is And How To Prevent It

Monday, Aug 01, 2016
Swimmer's Ear

Swimmer's Ear: What It Is And How To Prevent It

Hot summer days call for trips to the pool. But, one of your little ones is complaining about pain in his or her ear. Could it be swimmer's ear?

What Causes Swimmer's Ear?

Otitis externa, more commonly known as swimmer's ear, is an infection in the outer ear canal. The most common cause is water that remains in the ear after swimming or bathing, which creates an environment that aids bacterial growth. When this happens, the ear canal can become irritated and infected.

Normally, your ears' natural defenses are able to keep them clean and prevent infection. However, if these natural defenses become overwhelmed by excess moisture, scratches or abrasions in the canal, or allergic reactions, infection can occur.

What are Swimmer's Ear Symptoms?

Symptoms your child might complain about include a mild itch or pain in the ear. Pain can become more intense when the head is moved. More moderate to advanced symptoms of swimmer's ear include more intense itching, increasing pain, redness in the ear, muffled hearing, and discharge of pus.

It's best to see a doctor when you have any signs or symptoms of swimmer's ear, as it can progress to a serious infection easily. The doctor will be able to examine the ear canal and determine the severity of the infection.

How Can I Prevent Swimmer's Ear?

The best way to prevent swimmer's ear is to make sure ears are completely drained after swimming or bathing. Dry the ears with a towel immediately after these activities. In addition, placing drops of 70 percent alcohol into the ears after swimming helps to dry ears and keep them clean. Lastly, if ears already have a sensitivity reaction or infection of any sort, be sure to keep them away from water as much as possible.

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Sources:

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/ear-nose-throat/Pages/Swimmers-Ear-in-Children.aspx (AAP)

http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/ear-infection/tc/swimmers-ear-otitis-externa-topic-overview

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000622.htm

About Pediatric Services

Doylestown Health is committed to providing family-centered children’s services to the community. The Carol and Louis Della Penna Pediatric Center offers expert inpatient care to all ages including infants, children and teens. Della Penna Pediatric Center Services extend beyond the hospital setting to include health and wellness education, nutrition services and other support services within the community.

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