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Healthcare 101: 5 Tips For Avoiding Summer Swimmer’s Ear

As temperatures heat up, parents and kids are usually on the lookout for fun outdoor summer activities like swimming at a pool or beach.

Unfortunately, sometimes a fun beach day leads to an uncomfortable ear infection known as swimmer’s ear. Here’s what you can do about it.

What Is Swimmer’s Ear?

Swimmer’s ear is a common ear infection that can cause discomfort in the ear canal, including itching and tenderness. After you or the kids have gone swimming, water can get trapped in the ear canal, creating the perfect environment for bacteria to flourish.

Since children sometimes have a difficult time communicating symptoms, it’s important to know the signs of this infection and what might help prevent it. What can you do to stave off swimmer’s ear this summer?

How to Prevent Swimmer’s Ear

Luckily, parents and caretakers can help children — and others of any age — avoid this uncomfortable bacterial infection by following these tips:

  • Use earplugs and/or a bathing cap to keep water out of the ear canal.
  • Check bacteria levels and avoid swimming in ponds, lakes or other bodies of water with high bacteria levels.
  • Swim in clean, properly treated pools.
  • Teach children how to drain water from ears naturally and how to dry their ears.
  • Use ear drops that dry up any leftover water. (Note: Those who have had ear surgery, have a perforated eardrum, or experience other forms of ear pain may not be able to use ear drops.)

Your Swimmer’s Ear Remedy

Before proceeding with any swimmer’s ear treatment, be sure to get an accurate diagnosis from a trusted healthcare professional. A doctor will usually clean the outer ear canal before prescribing ear drops for swimmer’s ear.

An antibiotic, steroid, acidic solution or anti-fungal medication may also be prescribed, and a pain reliever such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen may be suggested to reduce discomfort. If initial treatments are not effective, oral antibiotics might be prescribed.

Seek Treatment Early to Keep Enjoying Summer

It can be difficult to keep a watchful eye over active children at all times. If your children are at summer camp or just visiting friends, they may not remember to take necessary steps to avoid getting water into their ears — or to dry ears after swimming.

If you notice your child is experiencing discharge or discomfort in and around the ear canal, seek medical attention as soon as possible. If you’re able to get a diagnosis soon after the onset of symptoms, it can be easier to treat the bacterial infection and also prevent the condition from advancing.

For diagnosis and treatment of swimmer’s ear or other common ear infections, visit an urgent care center near you.

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