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Don’t Let Swimmer’s Ear Ruin Your Summer Fun July 30, 2010

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

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

(AUGUSTA, GA. July 30, 2010) – 'Tis the season when a couple days of fun at the pool or lake could lead to a painful earache more commonly known as swimmer's ear.

Swimmer's ear is an infection of the ear canal most often caused by bacteria that typically occurs in the thin layer of skin lining the ear canal, according to Beth Barranco, a registered nurse and University Hospital’s WAGT Healthy U correspondent.

“Your ear has glands that secrete a waxy substance that repels water and provides protection from bacteria and other debris that can potentially cause infection,” Ms. Barranco explained. “Excess swimming, trapped water, and humid weather can cause the ear to be too moist, leaving the protective features compromised and providing bacteria easier access to the ear.”

Risk factors include swimming in water with a higher bacteria level such as a lake instead of a maintained pool, having smaller ear canals, excessive ear wax that trap water more easily and excessive cleaning or scratching the ear canal with objects such as cotton swabs.

Symptoms, usually mild at first, could be:

  • Itching in ear canal
  • Slight redness of skin in ear canal
  • Mild discomfort
  • Some drainage of odorless fluid

“Symptoms can worsen if the infection isn't treated or spreads. It's best to see your doctor when you first notice symptoms,” she said.

Ear drops are prescribed for a mild infection, Ms. Barranco said. “If the infection is more advanced or doesn't respond to eardrops, your doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics.”

Also during treatment:

  • You will need to keep your ear dry and avoid irritation of the ear.
  • Don't swim or scuba dive.
  • Don't wear an earplug or hearing aid.
  • Avoid getting water in your ear canal when bathing.
  • Use a cotton ball coated with petroleum jelly to protect your ear during baths.

For more information on swimmer's ear, contact ASK-A-NURSE at 706/737-8423. For daily updates and links visit www.facebook.com/bbarrancoRN.

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