Though the summer season has come to a close, it's important to have specific methods to prevent some common occurrences that swimming can bring. Whether it be the effect of chlorine on hair and skin or something else entirely, being aware of how swimming can affect the body is pertinent. While summer is the prime time for swimming days, some people swim year round depending on their location and access to indoor pools. Here's some ways to prevent the dreaded swimmer's ear that can be difficult to combat.
Water getting stuck in the ear can be just a passing nuisance as it often works its way out by shaking the head. But sometimes just a little bit of water can spell trouble for your ear. Something called otitis externa, also known as swimmer's ear, can be potentially more than just an annoying inconvenience if it isn't dealt with properly. Luckily, there are some specific ways that you can prevent and remedy this issue.
Environment And Bacteria
Firstly, swimmer's ear is an infection; it isn't the presence of a bit of water in the ear initially. When the infection occurs, it shifts and the external or outer ear canal is then affected which affects the eardrum and potentially even the ability to hear in the ear.
The environment in which this type of infection thrives, as it helps bacteria to grow, is somewhere generally wet and dark. Prime example, an ear. Swimming is a significant risk factor especially in fresh water. For most people, swimmer's ear is a one-time occurrence, but for others it can take a more chronic form, says Kara Jones-Schubart, a clinical assistant professor at Texas A&M. Some of the most common symptoms for sufferers is redness on the outer part of the ear, warm to the touch, and sometimes tender to the touch as well. Many people who suffer from swimmer's ear also complain of temporary diminished hearing as well.
Bacteria is the most common catalyst of swimmer's ear. A less common cause is fungi. Because of the pathogens that can easily thrive in these environments, especially those of the fresh water variety, swimmer's ear is something that can easily take place. The ear canal is tricky and water can get trapped there, which is where the issue starts as its a perfect breeding ground. There are certain things that can cause an ear to be at even greater risk. A buildup of wax can cause the water to get stuck or backed up. Injuring the canal by cleaning the ears improperly with Q-tips can also cause water to have a compromised breeding ground.
How To Avoid It
There are ways to avoid swimmer's ear. Many avid swimmers speak about the benefits of ear plugs when swimming. There are also over-the-counter ear solutions that can be used to help break up any blockages that you may be experiencing. A little-known trick that can be implemented is to use a hair dryer on wet ears after a swim. The air will flow to all the little crevices and pockets that otherwise may have trapped some of the water. If you believe you are suffering from swimmer's ear, your general practitioner will be able to properly diagnosis you.