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6 Things Parents Should Know about Swimmer’s Ear

Healthy pool water isn’t the cause

There are many benefits to teaching children how to swim and learn how to be SAFER around water. One of the few downsides is that children – or adults for that matter – who spend a lot of time in the pool can develop swimmer’s ear if the water is not properly maintained. Here are six things parents should know.

1. It has an official medical name

The actual medical term is otitis externa. Otitis is the medical description for inflammation of a part of the ear. You can probably guess that this condition affects the passage of the outer ear (externa).

2. Swimming isn’t the only cause

While it’s often caused by too much moisture in the ear, you don’t have to be a swimmer to get swimmer’s ear. It’s caused by bacteria or fungi penetrating through a break in the skin in the ear canal. Eczema, dry skin, or even overzealous cleaning with a cotton swab tip can lead to what’s otherwise known as swimmer’s ear.

3. Things that increase the risk of swimmer’s ear

Water that stays in the ear creates an environment for the bacteria or fungi that cause otitis externa. It’s more likely to happen if your children swim in water that’s not properly treated – like lake water or even your bathtub.

It’s important for them to remove excess water from the ears when finished swimming or bathing for the day.

4. Signs that your child has swimmer’s ear

The top symptom of otitis externa is pain. It’s possible your child may have developed a case if he or she complains of discomfort when they pull or press on their outer ear, or that their ear constantly itches. It also may be difficult for them to chew without feeling discomfort.

If you examine their ear, you might notice that the outer area appears red or swollen. There may also be a discharge from the ear canal itself. Some of these symptoms happen with other health conditions. Let a health care professional make the diagnosis.

5. Common treatments

A health care professional will determine treatment based on the severity of the infection, as well as the amount of pain it’s causing. The most common treatment is a prescription of antibiotic ear drops.

Treatment usually lasts 7 to 10 days. Your child should notice an improvement in a day or two. In the meantime, the doctor may suggest an over-the-counter pain reliever, or even prescribe a more potent medication to manage the ear pain.

6. Helping to prevent swimmer’s ear

It’s important to remember that water in the ear canal can encourage otitis externa. It’s not necessarily the cause. That is often because of an irritation – such as cotton swabs used in the ears as we mentioned earlier – or an injury.

A health care professional may recommend the use of over-the-counter ear drops after swimming. These drops help to create a dry environment in the ear canal that assist in preventing infections. This may be an option to explore if you find that your child gets repeated cases of swimmer’s ear.

At Ocaquatics, our goal is to teach families to love swimming and become safer, more comfortable, and more responsible in the water. If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help your child, or if you’re interested in joining our team, call us today at 305-969-SWIM (7946), or by visiting us online.

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