On average, July is the hottest month of the year. To combat the extreme temperatures, most individuals go to the beach or lay by the pool. When preparing to go, everyone remembers to pack their bathing suits, sunscreen, and flip-flops. What beach and pool goers do not prepare for are their ears. Besides getting sunburnt the ears are prone to other infections.
How your ears are affected by water
Otitis externa, also known as Swimmer’s ear, is defined as “an infection in the outer ear canal, which runs from your eardrum to the outside of your head” (Mayo Clinic). As inferred by the name, the most common way to get Swimmer’s ear is from swimming. Swimming causes “a moist environment that aids bacterial growth” (Mayo Clinic). Signia, a major hearing aid company, concluded that “children are more likely to develop swimmer’s ear, since their ear canals are narrower, and their immune systems aren’t fully developed yet”. Other ways to get swimmer’s ear is by tearing the layer of skin on the ear drum by simple tasks such as, using cotton swaps or putting your finger in your ear. The individuals most susceptible to swimmer’s ear are swimmers. Lakes and oceans can contain bacteria that can cause swimmer’s ear, so be sure to clean your especially well after swimming in these bodies of water.
When your ears are affected by water the symptoms are:
- Itching in the ear canal
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Drainage of clear, odorless fluid
- Decreases or muffled hearing
The typical way to treat swimmer’s ear is by ear drops. Remember, it is not okay to stick Q- tips in your ears, even when you feel like your ears are full of water. If symptoms persist, it is necessary to see a doctor or go to urgent care.
When wearing hearing aids:
Hearing aids and water do not really mix well. Refer to a blog post a few months back that talks about what you should do when your hearing aids are wet or how to keep them dry when it is raining, during exercise, or just from sweat from the hot summer weather. The most important thing to remember is to keep your hearing aids dry. To do this, always care for your hearing aids by regularly cleaning them and having a special case for them.
This summer enjoy all of your water activities while keeping your ears healthy! Protect your ears like you protect your eyes and skin during the summer season!