Prevention is key to swimmer’s ear

Do you have swimmer’s ear? External Otitis, more commonly known as swimmer’s ear, is an infection of the ear canal that can cause pain for swimmers. It can affect people of all ages, but seems most common in children, probably because they spend more time in the water.

It is readily treated with a prescription antibiotic ear drop ordered by your physician. If such drops are ordered, use them for the amount of time prescribed. Stopping the drops too soon may cause the infection to return, even if not swimming. The patient also needs to stay out of the water for a full seven days, even protecting the ears from water while bathing or showering.

Prevention is the key to avoiding swimmer’s ear.

  • Use a swim cap or ear plugs. Ear plugs that feel like Play-Doh are available at most pharmacies. They mold easily to the ear canal and are comfortable to wear.
  • Use a towel to dry the ears. Tilt the head to the side to drain water from the ears.
  • Pull the earlobe while the ear is faced down to help the water drain.
  • Use a hair dryer on the low, cool setting to dry the external ear canal.

In addition, consult your doctor before using over-the-counter preventive or treatment products or before using vinegar or rubbing alcohol in the ear. Anyone with tubes or known ear drum damage should not use any drops without physician direction.

Phone the Baptist Health Line 24/7 at (270) 575-2918 if you have questions about any health condition, even if you’ve never been a patient at Western Baptist. Our nurses also can answer your questions here.

About Baptist Health Paducah

Baptist Health Paducah is a regional medical and referral center, serving about 200,000 patients a year from four states. With more than 1,800 employees and 200 physicians, it offers a full range of services, including cardiac and cancer care, diagnostic imaging, women’s and children’s services, surgery, emergency treatment, rehabilitation and more. Since its humble beginning in 1953, Baptist Health Paducah has grown from 117 beds to 349 beds on a campus covering eight square blocks.
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