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How to Prevent Swimmer’s Ear

By: Kelly Warf, Au.D.
Michael Layland, M.D.

Who doesn’t love the feeling of sand between their toes, the sun glistening overhead, and the salty breeze cooling them off? A wonderful day at the beach that ends with the slushing of water stuck in your ear; it seems like after a nice swim water always gets trapped in the ear. Sometimes the water travels out of your ear naturally and other times you end up doing a funny dance to get it out.

If the water is left in your ear this can turn into a bacterial infection commonly known as swimmers ear. This can lead to muffled hearing, drainage from the ear, and if left untreated can progress to pain or discomfort around the ear. While short exposures to water in the ear are fine, it’s best to remove and prevent an infection. The following tips can help remove water from your ear and prevent the frequency of episodes:

Tips for removing water from your ears:

  • Lie on the side with water in the ear and let gravity do its job.
  • Pull back on your earlobe and tilt your head towards your shoulder. The water may be trapped in the curvy canals of your ear- opening them up allows any trapped water to escape.
  • Regular ear cleanings- water can get trapped behind ear wax. Regular ear cleanings with an ENT physician prevent cerumen build-up.
  • Pro-plugs are water resistant ear plugs. They come in a variety of sizes, so we fit you in-office to make sure you obtain a good seal in the ear. For individuals who experience chronic ear infections, we recommended custom swim plugs.

If you are prone to ear infections/swimmers ear or if your symptoms persist for a couple days, call our office so we can create a treatment plan right for you. Pro-plug and custom swim plugs are also available. Call our office at 847-685-1000.

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