Floating Away from Swimmer’s Ear

Whether it would be in a river, beach or  a pool, getting splashedovernever fails  to beat the scorching summer heat. Cliff  diving, banana boating, kayaking, name  it! Everything spells F-U-N in summer.

Unless, of course, if you get Swimmer’s Ear.

Otitis Externa or Swimmer’s Ear is a type of infection  that occurs within the ear canal because of frequent  exposure to water, making it susceptible to bacteria  and inflammation. As the name suggests, swimmers  or people who love swimming are most vulnerable to  this condition. However, other causes may also count.

Common symptoms of Swimmer’s Ear include  the following: 

  1. Ear pain
  2. Redness and Swelling of the outer ear
  3. Temporary hearing loss
  4. Muffled Ears
  5. Itching inside the ear canal
  6. Yellow discharge of pus
  7. Slight Fever

What conditions causes Otitis Externa? 

  • Loss of Earwax – Earwax is a natural protectant  of our body that traps dirt and prevents it from  lingering within the middle ear to cause infection.  Cleaning your ears frequently may be considered  hygienic, but if done too much, is not healthy.  Not only does it scrape away the ear’s natural  lubricant, it could also damage the skin within  the ear canal, which could complicate your ear  condition if not properly attended to.
  • Swimming in Polluted Water – Since water can  possibly be trapped within the ear canal, swimming  in waters, which contain high levels of bacteria, is  another culprit why we get an ear infection. Sandy  shores and muddy ponds, lakes or rivers may be  inevitable to swim on, just make sure to rinse and  clean your ears right away after swimming.
  • Inflammation and wounds caused by foreign objects  – Too much itching is sometimes unbearable when  you have an ear infection. Some people have a  tendency to put any object to ease the discomfort  like your finger, a pen or a hairclip to scratch the  inside of the ear. Unfortunately, this might cause  further injury to your ear.
  • Skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis etc. –  Fungal infection is not exclusive with our exposed  skin. They can also occur within the ear canal.  When skin flakes get loose and fungus inflict  within the ear canal, it will likely cause an  infection.
  • Diabetes and other diseases that weakens the  immune system – When Otitis Externa becomes  malignant and you have a weak immune system  caused by another health condition such as  diabetes, HIV, or AIDS, the body’s bacteria  fighting abilitygetscompromised. If not given  proper medical attention, the infection can damage  the tissue of your ear canal. Furthermore, it  becomes life threatening if not treated promptly  and efficiently due to its proximity to the brain,  where it could also spread through.

Treatment, Prevention& Care 

  • Physician’s Care – Always make sure to check  with your doctor before taking any medication. It  is a must, specially, if the concerned body part is  as delicate as our ear. Depending on severity, your  physician may prescribe antibiotic treatments, antifungal  medication, steroidal or non-streroidal drops  to ease inflammation, and/or acidic solutions to  restore your ear to its normal condition.For worse  case scenarios, surgery may be required.
  • Home Remedies – For less serious cases, home  remedies can ease the discomfort but it is best  to do this if your doctor is okay with it. For  instance, you can apply a few drops of mineral  oil before going swimming to help block bacterial  infections once you submerge in the water.A homemade acetic acid solution can also be  helpful to dry your ear after swimming. Just mix  equal parts of white vinegar and rubbing alcohol.  Using a sterile bulb syringe, flush the inside of  your ear canal with the solution while your head is  tilted. After 10-15 seconds, slowly drain your ear  by tilting it back. Do this on both of your ears.

    Heat therapy is also a good way to keep off  Swimmer’s Ear. You can place a warm compress  at the back of your ears to help ease the throbbing  sensation or pain. Nevertheless, if you have a hair  blower available, switch it to low heat setting and  keep it a foot away from your earlobe once turned  on. Blow it on both ears for about half a minute each.

Do not let your love of water be devastated by the  discomfort of having Swimmer’s Ear. Just be cautious  and take good care of your auditory health, be merry  and enjoy the rest of the season.

MARIAN CASTRO- ORDILLO

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