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Swimmer`s Ear Got You Down? Get Back In The Swim Of Things!
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Itchy, painful, swollen ears got you down?  Odds are, you are suffering from the painful ear infection known as "swimmer`s ear" (also called acute otitis externa).  Because this condition commonly affects swimmers, it is known as swimmer`s ear.  Swimmer`s ear is an infection of the outer ear canal.  This infection occurs when water gets trapped in the the ear canal, exposing it to moisture for an extended length of time.

The dark, warm environment of the ear canal is an ideal breeding ground for fungus and bacteria.  Under normal conditions, a protective layer/barrier of earwax (otherwise known as cerumen), keeps the skin in a healthy state.

Some bacteria is normal and healthy.  However, when the skin of the ear canal is exposed to excessive moisture, bacteria and fungus can multiply and lead to infection.

Some other factors that may contribute to swimmer`s ear include:

-      Bathing or exposing one`s ears to polluted water from streams, lakes or hot tubs. 

-      Excessive or impacted earwax can trap water.

-      The use of cotton swabs, bobby pins, tweezers or paper clips can increase the opportunity for infection by scratching the skin in the ear canal, impacting earwax or removing the protective layer of earwax.

-      Hearing aid use can trap moisture from bathing and sweat in ears.

When the delicate lining of the ear canal is weakened or compromised, there is increased opportunity for infection.  It is for this reason that doctors recommend against sticking any objects not designed for this purpose into the ear canal.  Earwax is natural and only needs to be removed when an excessive amount is produced or forms an impaction, which can be remedied with an over-the-counter earwax removal aid or a visit to a doctor (if conditions are extreme).

If you are experiencing painful itching, swelling, drainage, decreased hearing, swollen lymph nodes or redness of the outer ear, you may have otitis externa and should see a doctor for treatment.  Typically, treatment includes antibiotic ear drops or oral medication (for more severe infections).

 If the infection is caught early enough, the use of an over-the-counter ear drying aid (ear drops) or a specially designed electronic ear dryer can be an effective treatment.  A physician will typically recommend a high quality set of over-the-counter swimming ear plugs for use during treatment (to help keep water and moisture out of the ear canal).

Children are perhaps the most frequently affected by swimmer`s ear.  Not only do children love to play in the water, but their small ear canals retain water more easily than adult sized ear canals, making them more susceptible to infection.

If ears are kept dry, they are unlikely to become infected.  Use earplugs while swimming and bathing or use ear water drying drops or an ear dryer after exposure to water.  Hearing aid users can use an ear dryer to help dry the outer ear.  Ear plugs for swimming and bathing can be found in many styles at your local drugstores and sporting goods retailers.  When it comes to <a href="http://www.macksearplugs.com/category/ear-plugs-for-water">ear plugs for swimming</a> or water protection, inexpensive, high quality moldable putty or flanged style earplugs from a reputable hearing protection manufacturer, perform as good or better than expensive custom-molded ear plugs. 

Don`t let swimmer`s ear keep you in dry dock.  Keep your ears dry and healthy.  Get yourself some swimming ear plugs and get yourself back in the swim of things! 

Author name:
Pete Benner
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The writer of this article is an avid swimmer and hearing ear protection and has worked in the hearing health industry for over 25 years.  
   
   
 
 
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