Swimming Protection for the Ears

Swimming is a favorite pastime of children throughout the summer months and in the heat. But many of our children find that water in the ears is an uncomfortable and troubling consequence of swimming which can lead to pain, discomfort, and other hearing issues. We protect our children while they swim by ensuring they wear sunscreen and flotation devices, but what about what they wear to protect their ears? Water can easily get into the ear and the ear canal, and in the United States alone, it results in an estimated 2.4 million doctor’s visits each year. This adds up to nearly $500 million dollars in health care costs. Parents and all swimmers should know that there are several simple steps you can take to help prevent swimmer’s ear.

Swimmer’s ear can develop when water, dirt or other debris get into the ear canal. Since it often occurs when excess water enters the ear canal, a common name for this inflammation is “swimmer’s ear.” But swimmer’s ear actually is an inflammation and infection of the ear canal due to bacteria. The ear canal can become red and swollen causing a lot of pain and discomfort. This can also occur when the protective film that covers the ear canal lipid layer is removed leading to a tender, narrower than normal ear canal where bacteria may thrive due to the moisture. Medical experts also admit that swimmer’s ear is more likely if you have a very narrow or hairy ear canal, live in a warm, humid climate, have impacted earwax, or have had a head injury that also injured your ear.

Symptoms can include itching, pain, and a feeling of fullness in the ear. Your ear canal may be swollen. You may have moderate to severe pain, drainage, or hearing loss.  Keeping your ears as dry as possible is one of the easiest ways to avoid infections in your ear canal due to water entering when swimming. Our custom-fit ear molds can help keep moisture out by being a type of barrier for your ear canal. While it may not be a total seal for water, it will certainly help to keep out water and limit bouts with swimmer’s ear. Likewise, our custom-fit service makes the ear molds much more comfortable than traditional tubing or plugs. Our ear molds, just like our hearing aids, come in many different shapes and sizes for better fit and more effectiveness than generic ear plugs. Contact one of our offices to see how our audiologists can assist you or your child in creating a custom-fit ear mold just in time to dive back into the pool again!


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