Swimmer's Ear: It's Not Just From Swimming  

by Pool Builders on 02-13-2007 in Articles

Swimmer's Ear (also known as otitis externa) is an infection of the ear and/or outer ear canal. It can cause what is commonly referred to as an ear ache (or earache). It can also cause the ear to itch or become red and inflamed. Moving your head or even touching the infected area can be very painful. Someone with Swimmer's Ear may also experience an unpleasant drainage of pus from the infected area.

Swimmer's Ear is often caused by infection with a germ called Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This germ is common in soil and water. It's microscopic so that it can't be seen with the naked eye. Anyone, at any age, can be afflicted by swimmer's ear, but it occurs far more often in children and young adults.

Most people get swimmer's ear through contact with contaminated water. But even those who haven't been swimming can get it through contact with a contaminated object. Symptoms of swimmer's ear usually begin to occur within a few days. Symptoms of Swimmer's Ear might include

Decreased hearing
Pain that may radiate to the neck, face, or side of the head
Sensation that the ear is blocked or full
Swollen lymph nodes
The outer ear may appear to be pushed forward or away from the skull

There's a significant difference between a common childhood middle ear infection (otitis media) and Swimmer's Ear. If you can press or wiggle the outer ear without pain or discomfort, then it's probably not Swimmer's Ear.

Swimmer's Ear can be easily prevented by following four simple rules.

1) You should take care to dry your ears thoroughly after swimming. If you experience difficulty getting water out of your ears, apply several drops of an alcohol-based ear product into the ears. You can generally get these ear products at any pharmacy or drug store. But--and this is important--before using any drops in the ear, make sure you do not have a perforated eardrum. Using a hair dryer can also be an effective way to dry the insides of your ears.

2) Be knowledgeable about the chlorine and pH testing program at your pool. This is especially important with home pools and hot tubs. Proper chlorine and pH control are important in preventing the spread of germs that cause Swimmer's Ear.

3) Do not swim in polluted streams, rivers, ponds or lakes. Avoid locations that have been closed due to pollution.

4) Listen to your mother's advice and never put objects into your ear. Dirty fingers can be especially dangerous. Even "clean" cotton swabs may bruise or scratch the ear canal and provide a site for an infection to start growing. If you already have an ear infection and you try to clean your ear with a cotton swab, you'll just push the germs farther back into the ear canal--and you might even damage the ear drum.

If you think you have Swimmer's Ear, talk to your doctor right away. Swimmer's ear can be treated effectively with antibiotic ear drops. Mild acid solutions such as boric or acetic acid are effective for early infections.

Leave a Comment

List YOUR Pool Business