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Learn to Avoid Swimmer's Ear June 24, 2008

FOR MORE INFORMATION, contact Rebecca Sylvester at 706/828-2394.

Don’t Let Swimmer’s Ear Ruin Your Summertime Fun

AUGUSTA, Ga., June 23, 2008 – Prevention is the key to avoiding the pain and inconvenience of a condition that plagues many summertime swimmers, according Victoria Burt, a nurse practitioner at University and regular guest on NBC Augusta’s Healthy U segment. Healthy U airs in the 11 a.m. newscast each Tuesday.

Swimmer’s ear, also known as otitis externa, is more common in children and teenagers. It is an infection of the outer ear and ear canal when the protective wax is washed away allowing bacteria or fungus to form.

The most common symptoms are pain -- especially when touching the ear or chewing -- itching, redness, swelling, difficulty hearing and drainage.

“It usually is treated with prescription antibiotic eardrops,” Ms. Burt said. “Also, the physician may place a tiny sponge or wick, in the ear canal temporarily.”

Patients should remember to finish all the medication prescribed, even if the symptoms appear better before the medication is gone, she said.

“Over-the-counter pain medications can be used, and you really should not swim and be careful not to get water in the ear while bathing for seven to 10 days,” Ms. Burt said.

Swimmer’s ear is easily prevented by keeping your ears dry with earplugs, taking special care to wash the plugs with alcohol in between uses, or by using a shower/swim cap. Also, follow these recommendations:

  • Don’t scratch or put anything in the ear
  • Use a hair dryer on the lowest heat setting to dry the ears
  • After swimming, put 2-3 drops of a mixture of 50 percent alcohol and 50 percent vinegar in each ear.

For more information about swimmer’s ear or help finding a physician, call ASK-A-NURSE at 706/737-8423 or toll free at 800/476-7378.



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