2.4 million swimmer’s ear visits a year! How to not get one. . .

The Centers for Disease Control forwarded on this astronomical number in a bulletin on external ear infections.  There are simple steps to do before and after swimming (or coming in contact with water), to greatly reduce your risk of this painful infection.

Symptoms of swimmer’s ear are tenderness at the ear or around it, redness, and swelling of the external ear canal.  Cases peak during the summer months and children aged 5-9 years accounted for the most physician visits for this—although it can occur at any age.

Surprisingly, the cost per case was $200 for those not requiring hospitalization.  3% of those visiting an emergency department for this were hospitalized.

To prevent. . .

  • Use ear plugs or bathing caps to reduce exposure of the ears to water
  • Dry the ears after swimming–hopping on one foot, moving the ear lobe, and tapping the other temple with your hand, or gently blow drying your ear.  Some sound silly but these do help.
  • Keep foreign objects (like cotton swabs) out of the ear, as these may break the skin and create an avenue of infection.

Do not remove ear wax.  It is good for the ear and helps protect it from infection.

Swim in maintained pools as proper pH and chlorine levels decrease Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus species which are the usual culprits of external otitis infections.

For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/healthyswimming

Enjoy the water this summer!

About drlesliegreenberg

I have been practicing as a family physician for over 20 years--as both an educator of physicians and clinician. From infancy to the elderly, I perform obstetrics and general medicine. I love my career and am passionate about my field of knowledge and my patients. Follow me on Facebook at Leslie Md Greenberg Medical Disclaimer The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.
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