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What is Swimmers Ear?

Published in For the Health of It, Audiology Author: Kari Mobley,AuD

Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes and a countless number of swimming pools. During the summer, most children spend a large part of their day soaking up the sun (safely with sunscreen of course) at a nearby pool or swimming beach. It’s all fun until the ear pain starts; that ear pain can be otherwise known as “swimmers ear”.

What is Swimmers Ear?

Swimmers ear is an infection of the outer portion of the ear canal and is caused by moisture and bacteria. If you use Q-tips or candling to clean your child’s ears, they may be more susceptible to infection. Swimmers ear can usually be treated with ear drops alone unless the infection is bad; if left untreated your child may need oral antibiotics too.

Swimmers ear can be very painful, so if you see your child digging and pulling at their ears it might be a sign that there is some type of infection; only your child’s doctor will be able to determine what the problem is. If it gets bad enough, debris can build up in the ear canal and you might notice that your child isn’t hearing as well as they should be. You also might see drainage out of the ear.

What Can You Do to Prevent Swimmers Ear?

You aren’t going to be able to totally prevent swimmers ear, but there are some things you can avoid to help reduce your child’s chance of getting it.

NEVER manipulate the ears with Q-tips or candling. The ear is a self-cleaning organ and the wax will eventually make its way to the outside of the ear. When it does, put a tissue or towel over your finger and just wipe around the outside of the ear but NEVER stick anything down the ear canal.

If you notice your child pulling and tugging at their ears it’s probably a good idea to bring them in to get checked.