Friday, July 13, 2012

Summer Swimmer's Ear PREVENTION

Swimming all summer is FUN...till someone gets "swimmer's ear". An ounce of prevention here is truly worth the proverbial pound of cure, and the best news is that you can MAKE that "ounce" right in your kitchen!

Swimmers ear is caused by bacteria and fungi, which get access to the ear via the pool or lake water during swimming. (By the way, using q-tips to "clean" the ear serves to cause minor trauma to the ear canal and tends to make it easier to get these outer ear infections, so skip the q-tips, please.) 90% of the time, swimmer's ear only affects one ear. If you wake up with both ears hurting, it is more likely your middle ear causing the problem, and all the topical treatments in the world won't help.

Back to your kitchen- grab a bottle of vinegar and then a bottle of rubbing alcohol, and mix them together half & half. This mixture can be spilled on to a cotton ball and squeezed into the ear canal OR my preference is to use the bottle from the over-the-counter swimmer's ear prevention product and fill it up with my "home brew". Place around six drops in each ear, and allow to drain back out- do this after every swim session, and three times/day if you develop a sore ear. Warming up the bottle in your hands will make it less irritating to your ears. The vinegar kills the bacteria & fungus and the alcohol dries up any remaining moisture. Voila! Prevention & cure- same solution. I would estimate this will treat the vast majority of infections, but if your sore ear isn't improving in a couple days, please call your doctor & let them take a look. We certainly see "swimmer's ear" infections that require topical antibiotics and or topical steroids (to decrease inflammation and swelling.)

BOTTOM LINE: If you (or your kids) are frequent swimmers, don't wait for a sore ear to start using swimmer's ear prevention this summer!

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