It’s summertime, so much of that time will probably be spent at the beach or at the local pool; this is especially true for your kids. Here’s something to be aware of this summer to make sure your child is as healthy as can be… and that’s swimmer’s ear.
You don’t want it to be left untreated. Untreated ear issues can cause more pain than needed and can lead to hearing problems.
So What is Swimmer’s Ear?
Swimmer’s ear is an infection you can get in your ear. Its technical term is otitis externa and is actually slightly different than the common ear infection, which also has a fairly unpronounceable name (otitis media) (1).
The difference between these two uncomfortable ailments is not just in their names. Swimmer’s ear is in the ear canal, which is the tubular portion of the ear that leads to the inner-ear; whereas a common ear infection occurs within the inner-ear.
How Do You Get Swimmer’s Ear?
Swimmer’s ear is caused by bacteria that can enter your ear canal with, among other things, water — which is the most common way people get this infection and why it is aptly named — “swimmer’s ear.” You can also get this infection from scratching inside your ear, too, but this is less common.
This bacterium grows in the ear canal. That’s why it’s painful when you stick your finger in your ear when you have this kind of infection.
The ear has many natural defenses to try and prevent this issue. Some of these defenses are the shape of the ear canal and ear wax, which coats the interior of the ear (1).
Here are some symptoms to spot this infection. There’s the obvious pain in the ear. There’s also:
- Itching in your ear
- Redness in the ear
- Muffled hearing
If left untreated, the symptoms can get worse and lead to swelling in the lymph-nodes, fever and severe pain that can develop in the neck and face (2).
Swimmer’s ear, unfortunately, will need the attention of a doctor. You’ll want to contact your doctor who will most likely give your child ear drops with antibiotics (2).
Summer is time for your kid to have fun. Don’t let this information get in the way of your kid’s summer fun; but be aware of this and know that if your child is around pools a lot, they may get an infection. But it’s good to know that it’s very solvable and treatable.
Kids Health: Swimmer’s Ear
Mayo Clinic: Swimmer’s Ear