Swimmer's Ear: What Is It and How To Treat It

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Whether you're a competitive or leisure swimmer, a bad case of Swimmer's Ear can ruin a perfectly good time.

While it can be quite uncomfortable, it’s also fairly common and can be treated very easily. When the seasons change and the weather gets hotter, knowing how to prevent this annoying after-effect from a fun day at the pool or beach can be essential.

Swimmer’s Ear can occur in a couple of different ways. What most people attribute it to, is when too much water remains in your ear canal after swimming (hence the name) and builds up bacteria which later causes an infection. 

This isn’t the only way one can get it though. Scratches in your ear from cotton swabs, fingers, or even earbuds can also be attributed to causing Swimmer’s Ear. While it might be common to clean the wax out of your ear, it’s important to note that earwax works as a protectant layer, and the adamant removal of it can increase your chances of infection. 

It’s also possible that one might even get this without going in the water at all. Humid weather or sweat build-up can lead to this infection as well. Germs can grow in warmer environments and lock in the moisture around it. 

Symptoms of Swimmer’s Ear include pain or itchiness on the outside of your ear near the ear canal, fluid drainage, discharge, and a muffled sound. Some symptoms are worse than others, so it is important to notify your doctor about what you are experiencing. 

Treatment of this infection from your doctor can come in a variety of forms, but most likely you will be prescribed ear drops. This is the most common form of treatment. The symptoms might last for a couple of days, but they should go away shortly. 

Sometimes it might feel like getting Swimmer’s Ear is inevitable, but there are ways you can prevent it from happening to you. The big thing is just to make sure your ears dry out after being in the water to stop bacteria from growing. Wearing earplugs could be a great preventative measure. 

It’s also important to think about where you are choosing to swim. If the body of water is more prone to bacteria, then your chances are higher than they would be somewhere cleaner. Shaking your ears out and letting that excess water exit is a good habit to form if you swim frequently. 

The ache and pain from it might be mistaken for an inner ear infection, so it can come in handy to recognize the basic differences between the two. Inner ear infections have symptoms of fever, runny nose, congestion, upset stomach, or diarrhea. If you are experiencing any of those symptoms it is important to notify your doctor. 

This infection should not prevent you from having fun in the sun, but you should be aware and protect your ears from any form of bacteria that could cause an infection. 

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