Steps to prevent swimmer’s ear’

July 3, 2014

Swimming and the Fourth of July naturally go together. And a few simple precautions can prevent a common complaint at this time of year.

"Swimmer’s ear" is an inflammation of the ear canal. When water enters the ear canal and does not properly drain, the ear canal can get irritated and infected.

David Lar, MD, a pediatrician with UNT Health Science Center, said, "Common complaints include itching, discomfort, or pain in the ear, especially when the ear is tugged."

This may be accompanied by greenish-yellow discharge in the ear and temporarily diminished hearing because of inflammation in the ear canal.

"Swimmer’s ear" can be diagnosed by your doctor based on the history of illness and a physical examination.

Once the diagnosis is made, the typical treatment includes ear drops that contain antibiotic and medication to reduce inflammation.

As with all illnesses, prevention of "swimmer’s ear" is the best medicine.

Dr. Lar recommends the following tips to prevent "swimmer’s ear":

  • Keep ears as dry as possible. Ear plugs may be used during swimming.
  • Dry your child’s ears immediately after swimming or bathing. Tilt your child’s head to hold each ear facing down to help water drain.
  • Don’t insert objects in your child’s ear (cotton-tip swabs, fingers, etc.)

To make an appointment with Dr. Lar or any of UNT Health Science Center’s pediatricians, contact 817-735-DOCS (3627).

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