For many people, summer means getting in the water after months of it being too cold for comfort. But if you’re planning on spending a lot of time in the water — especially if you’ll be popping your hearing aid back in when you get out — then you should know about swimmer’s ear.
And you don’t have to be a swimmer to get it.
Swimmer’s ear is a not uncommon type of infection of the ear canal’s skin layer. Caused by water collecting in the inner and outer ear canal, it is a bacterial infection that, in its early stages, can cause itching and discomfort.
The discomfort is more pronounced when that little thingamabob at the opening of your ear — the tragus — is pushed. Or when your earlobe is pulled.
Another early sign is a clear fluid draining out of your ear.
If you notice early signs of swimmer’s ear, then take action — because things can escalate. Eventually, that clear fluid turns to pus, you notice hearing loss due to swelling, pain starts spreading down into your neck and face, your lymph nodes are effected, and a fever comes on. Not sounding much like summer fun.
Eardrops are the best treatment for swimmer’s ear. They help dry out your ear while also providing treatment against bacteria and fungus.
The best way to prevent swimmer’s ear in the first place is to wear earplugs when you’re in the water for an extended amount of time.
Not putting your hearing aid back in immediately will help too. Give your ear a little time to air out before sealing it off with your hearing aid.
Also, be careful about cleaning your ears when you’re doing a lot of water activities. Small abrasions to the ear canal’s walls make for a more-friendly environment for the bacteria that causes swimmer’s ear.