Sunday, June 28, 2009

Swimmer's Ear

With temperatures soaring and heat indices topping out in the triple digits, many are flocking to swimming pools and local waterways, but this could expose you to an unwanted infection. It's that time of year again when pediatricians see a spike in the number of ear infections.

Dr. Albert Richert, Jr., Pediatrician: "Injury to the ear canal...swimming and putting things in your ear can scratch the outer ear canal here and cause some injury and swelling and infection."
Unlike an infection of the middle ear, doctor Albert Richert says swimmer's ear happens when bacteria grow in the ear canal. In that canal, there's delicate skin that is protected by a thin coating of earwax. Dr. Albert Richert, Jr., Pediatrician: "The ear wax forms a barrier that can protect the skin. It helps keep the acidity at the right level in the ear, which helps prevent bacterial growth." Many people clean their ears each day with a cotton swab, but this is actually frowned upon because you're getting rid of the "good" earwax.

Dr. Richert: "The old adage is to never place anything in your ear that's smaller than your elbow, which basically means – don't put anything in your ear." So if you or your child will be beating the heat in the water this summer, you need to take some extra steps to ensure that your ears stay healthy. Dr. Richert:"One of the best ways is actually to use a hairdryer. to blow–dry your ear, you hold the hair–dryer about 12 inches from your ear and blow warm air into your ear and that dries your ear out."

And like many professional swimmers, Dr. Richert says shaking your ears when you get out of the water also helps to keep them dry. Swimmer's ear drops can also aid in prevention, but if you are already feeling pain... it's too late!
"You can use swim ear drops to prevent the pain, but once the pain comes on, stop using those and you need to go see your doctor." Antibiotic eardrops are prescribed to treat swimmer's ear. Swimming caps can help with keeping water from entering the ear, but ear plugs are *not recommended unless they are specially fit to the person.

Luckily, we haven't dealt with this one yet. My oldest just recently decided he liked swimming under water. We are heading to the pool a lot more often these days. Now, it's just my husband and the boys since I am on bed rest. Has anyone ever dealt with swimmer's ear?

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

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