How to Prevent Swimmer’s Ear

With the intense summer weather, most of us will do just about anything to beat the heat — and what’s better than spending the day lounging in the pool?

While the water is a great place to stay cool, nothing grinds your summer fun to a halt faster than an ear infection. Your ear canal is warm and dark, and when water gets trapped inside, it’s the perfect environment for growing bacteria.

At AccuHealth Urgent Care, we see a lot of cases of swimmer’s ear every summer, so we thought it might be a good idea to share some tips on how to prevent this painful ear infection.

Swim with caution

Water safety is always important, and that includes swimming in clean water. If you’re prone to swimmer’s ear, you may want to consider the type of water you’re swimming in.

Lakes, ponds, and rivers are filled with bacteria that can easily get trapped in your ear canal and cause an infection. Pools and hot tubs that aren’t properly cleaned or treated are also a potential hazard for your ears.

If you’re not sure whether your favorite swimming venue is clean, we recommend you not take the plunge.

Cover your ears

Taking steps to prevent the water from getting into your ears can also help prevent swimmer’s ear. We recommend you wear a good pair of swimmer’s earplugs while you’re in the water. A good waterproof swim cap that’s big enough to cover your ears can also be effective.

Dry your ears

Even if you’ve taken all the necessary precautions before jumping in, you want to be sure to thoroughly dry your ears when you get out of the water. This may simply mean gently shaking your head from side-to-side to help drain the water from your ears and taking a towel to dry any excess water from around your outer ears.

You can get special ear drops at your local pharmacy that dry out your ears, too. Or you can make your own swimmer’s ear drops by mixing 1/2 teaspoon of rubbing alcohol with 1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar. Put the mixture in your ear briefly, then tilt your head to drain it. The alcohol and vinegar help dry the ear and kill off bacteria, but you shouldn’t use these drops if you already have ear pain or have had ear surgery.

Take good care of your ears

You may associate swimmer’s ear with swimming in the pool, but that’s not the only way you can get an ear infection. Any scratch or break of the skin in your ear can let germs in and lead to infection.

At AccuHealth Urgent Care, we recommend you not stick anything in your ear, especially cotton swabs. Let the wax work itself out on its own. If you use headphones, give your ears a break to prevent heat and moisture from building up, and clean your buds with alcohol swabs regularly.

When should you come to urgent care?

Even if you’ve taken all these precautions, you may still develop swimmer’s ear. If you’re feeling any kind of ear pain, even if it’s mild, you should come to AccuHealth Urgent Care so we can evaluate your ears and develop a treatment plan. Getting your earache taken care of right away may help prevent a more serious infection or complications from developing.

For treatment of swimmer’s ear, call or schedule an appointment online now. We also accept walk-ins.

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