Tips for Swimmers and Non-Swimmers to Avoid Swimmer's Ear

Swimmer’s ear, or otitis media, is an infection of your outer ear. Swimmers and non-swimmers can both get swimmer’s ear. Swimmer’s ear leads to 2.4 million physician visits per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ear, nose and throat specialists can help prevent swimmer’s ear complications, such as hearing loss. However, you may be able to avoid the condition in the first place. The following tips may help.

Tips for Swimmers
Swimming is a risk factor for developing swimmer’s ear because water is more likely to enter your ear canal. Bacteria are better able to grow and cause infections in a damp environment.
o Wear protective gear while swimming. Bathing caps and earplugs reduce the amount of water that gets into your ears.
o Dry your ears. Dry your ears off with a towel as soon as possible after you leave the water. Get excess water out of your ears by bending over so that one side of your head is facing the ground and water can leave your ear. Then switch sides so that your other ear drains.
o Use a blow-dryer. A hair dryer can dry your ears very quickly, but be sure to leave it on the coolest heat setting and keep the dryer a foot away from your head.
Tips for Non-Swimmers
You can get swimmer’s ear if harmful bacteria get into your ear and are able to grow.
o Do not put objects in your ears. That includes Q-tips, paper clips and anything else that could cut your ear and allow bacteria to infect you.
o Stay clean. Proper hygiene keeps bacteria away. Always clean your jewelry.

If you suspect that you may have swimmer’s ear, consult an ear, nose and throat doctor. Prompt attention to your symptoms can help prevent this minor nuisance from turning into a more serious infection.

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