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Ear Infection and Swimming

Ear infection and swimming are very closely connected. The most common form of ear infection that children and adults develop due to cold or an allergy is the otitis media. This leads to an infection in the middle ear. But, people who swim a lot develop otitis externa, also called the swimmer’s ear and is actually quiet different when compared to the common middle ear infection.

Swimmer’s ear causes severe pain and discomfort to the ear.

Swimmer’s Ear or Otitis Externa: Ear infection and swimming in a way go hand in hand. The primary reason for a swimmer’s ear is the growth of bacteria in the ear canal. Sound has to pass through the ear canal in order to reach the ear drum.

  • The delicate skin in the ear canal is protected by a thin coating called the earwax. Constant inflow and outflow of water into the ear canal can sometimes retain little amounts of water in the ear canal.
  • When water gets retained in the ear canal, there is a possibility of the earwax being washed away by the water.
  • The absence of earwax gives bacteria a chance to easily grow.
  • The reason for calling the infection swimmer’s ear is thus evident. The constant wetting of the ear canals in swimmers gives ample chances for bacteria to grow.
  • A few children can also develop swimmer’s ear despite not swimming.
  • An ear canal scratch could also cause swimmer’s ear.

Symptoms of Swimmer’s Ear: The growth of the bacteria in the ear canal leads to redness and swelling.

  • Itching can be felt in the ear upon the onset of swimmer’s ear and it is important to keep it from scratching (slightest scratch could increase and worsen both the pain and infection).
  • The ear’s outside also hurts upon bumping or touching.
  • There could be hearing problems due to infection and swelling of the ear canal.

Ear infection and swimming are better not to accompany each other, meaning, it is better to avoid swimming while suffering from otitis externa. Antibiotic drops prescribed by doctors are essential to deal with the pain and destroy the bacteria in the ear canal.

1 response to Ear Infection and Swimming

  1. Children usually get ear infection because their Eustachian tube is too short and more horizontal than in adults. That’s why this is one of the most common diseases in children

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