How To Prevent “Swimmer’s Ear”

art-0613-swimmingHeading to the beach this summer? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 2.4 million visits to healthcare centers are because of swimmer’s ear. Also known as Otitis Externa, swimmer’s ear can be painful and bothersome  – especially to children.

Dr. Gabriel H. Ruffing specializes in audiology, and suggests the following three tips on how to prevent swimmer’s ear:

  1. Ear plugs can prevent water from entering the ear canal which is what causes Otitis Externa.
  2. Make sure the ear canal is free of cerumen (ear wax) to prevent water from getting lodged in the ear. Water can get behind the wax and fester.
  3. If water in the ear is of concern, a few drops of alcohol in the ear will remove moisture from the ear canal so long as the child’s eardrums are intact (no ear-tubes).

Remember these three tips the next time you and your kids head to the pool or beach. They may just save you and your little ones a trip to the doctor’s office.

Redding area pediatrician Lloyd Braemer offers this tip:

“In my experience earplugs are generally not that effective and tend to get lost,” says Dr. Braemer. “Purchase a plastic bottle with a squeeze nozzle on top and add a mixture of 50% white vinegar and 50% rubbing alcohol. After swimming, fill each ear canal with the mixture (they won’t hold much – about a teaspoon each), and let the mixture drain back out by tipping the head. This will dissolve the wax and dry the ear out effectively, unless there is an active ear infection. An ear infection symptom would include pain when tugging on the earlobe. If this is the case, do not put the vinegar/alcohol solution in the ear and please consult your doctor right away. Also note, this tip does not apply if you have ear-tubes.

Meagan Ruffing
About Meagan Ruffing

Meagan Ruffing loves being a mom to her three kiddos Dylan, Hannah and Elinor but looks forward to finding more ways to reclaim her pre-mom self. She enjoys rocking out to Jewel in her minivan while waiting in the car line to pick up her kids from school.

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