You swam! And now you have swimmer’s ear

You swam! And now you have swimmer’s ear Staff Reporter / 24 August 2013 Swimmer’s ear is an infection of the ear canal. If you stick your finger in your ear, you’re feeling a little of the ear canal. But if you have swimmer’s ear and you stick your finger in your ear — YOW! Let’s find out more about this painful type of ear infection, which often affects swimmers. Swimmer’s ear — also called otitis externa — is different from a regular ear infection. Usually, when people say a kid has an ear infection, they mean otitis media, an infection of the middle ear. This sometimes happens when a kid gets a cold. But swimmer’s ear happens when bacteria grow in the ear canal, which is a passageway to the eardrum. In that canal, you’ll find delicate skin that’s protected by a thin coating of earwax. Most of the time, water can run in and out of the ear canal without causing a problem. For instance, you don’t usually get swimmer’s ear from taking baths or showers. Bacteria get a chance to grow when water stays in the ear canal. The protective covering of delicate wax and skin of the ear canal is disrupted. A lot of swimming can lead to these wet conditions in the ear canal. Bacteria grow and the ear canal gets red and swollen. Sometimes you can get an infection in the ear canal even if one hasn’t been swimming. A scratch or other irritation to the ear canal can also lead to swimmer’s ear. Symptoms of swimmer’s ear usually appear within a few days of swimming and include: Itchiness inside the ear. Redness and swelling of the ear. Pain when the infected ear is tugged or when pressure is placed on the ear. Pus draining from the infected ear. Although all age groups are affected by swimmer’s ear, it is more common in children and can be extremely painful. How do I protect myself and my family? To reduce the risk of swimmer’s ear: Do keep your ears as dry as possible: Use a bathing cap, ear plugs, or custom-fitted swim molds when swimming. Do dry your ears thoroughly after swimming or showering. Use a towel to dry your ears well. Tilt your head to hold each ear facing down to allow water to escape the ear canal. Pull your earlobe in different directions while your ear is faced down to help water drain out. If you still have water left in your ears, consider using a hair dryer to move air within the ear canal. Put the dryer on the lowest heat and speed/fan setting. Hold the dryer several inches from your ear. Don’t put objects in your ear canal (including cotton-tip swabs, pencils, paperclips, or fingers). Don’t try to remove ear wax. Ear wax helps protect your ear canal from infection: – If you think that your ear canal is blocked by ear wax, consult your doctor. Consul your doctor about using ear drops after swimming:  Drops should not be used by people with ear tubes, damaged ear drums. Please note:  Do not swim if you have had any ear surgery or ear tubes done without the approval of your doctor. Consult your doctor if you have ear pain, discomfort, or drainage from your ears. Swimmers have an essential role in helping to protect themselves, their families, and others from Recreational Water Illnesses (RWIs).     Taylor Scott International

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