A Summer Ailment

     Summer is a time for fun in the sun and a cooling dip in the water. Whether its a dip in a swimming pool be it private or public, or a dip in the waters of a beach. It doesn't matter where one swims, because there's always the chance of obtaining one of the most annoying summer ailments. That ailment being, swimmer's ear.

     Swimmer's ear can strike at any time during the year, but it shows up more in the hot late spring and summer months. That's usually when the majority of people swim, as not everyone can afford an indoor heated swimming pool.

What Is Swimmer's Ear?

      Swimmer's ear is actually an infection. It's an infection located in the outer ear canal. The outer ear runs from the eardrum to outside the head. It is caused by bacterial growth. Which is often aided by any water left behind inside the ear which can create a lovely moist environment for bacterium to thrive.

     Although swimmer's ear isn't always caused by water logged ears, even using a cotton swab can cause it. Whatever breaks or damages in any way the thin layer of skin over the ear canal. Even getting water into ones ear during a shower or bath can cause swimmers ear, which has an alias of otitis externa.

     Whatever does cause swimmer's ear, it can be painful. Infections usually are painful anyway and the longer they go untreated the worst they get. Infection can even lead to an untimely death. A swimmer's ear infection is no exception to the rule of nature.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms of Swimmer's Ear?

     There are a few signs and symptoms to be aware of when determining whether one has swimmer's ear or not. Otitis externa is not enjoyable, whether it comes in any of the three stages, mild, moderate or advanced. It is highly recommended that even if one is experiencing the milder signs and symptoms of otitis externa, that they seek immediate medical help. Doing so can help prevent the mild form of swimmer's ear from getting progressively worse. An infection is still an infection and should be treated as soon as possible.

     One of the symptoms is itching in the ear canal. That alone as a single symptom however might not mean anything. Ears do itch, both inside and out. A person reading this might even start to feel the inside of their ear canal itching, thanks to the power of suggestion. However if their ear were to have been itching inside the ear canal before looking up information about swimmer's ear, they might have it. One should however read further about the other signs and symptoms of otitis externa.

     Another symptom of swimmer's ear is having a slight redness inside the ear. One may not be able to tell whether there is a slight redness inside their ear and therefore may need someone to confirm their suspicions for them.

     A third symptom would be a “mild discomfort that's made worse by pulling on the outer ear”[3734]. That or prodding the tragus in front of ones ear, which is a little bump. The bump is supposed to be there, so there's no need to panic. Should there be any discomfort however, one should seek out a visit with their physician.

     One other symptom is that of drainage. It would be of a clear and odorless fluid.

     Those are the signs and symptoms of a mild case of swimmer's ear, the moderate and advanced stages of swimmers ear are much worse. They're rather worrisome in all stages, but more so the more advanced they are. So instead of waiting for the swimmer's ear to get to the point where one has pus coming out their ear, or a fever, get help before it worsens.

Severe Swimmer's EarCredit: wikimedia commons

      In case of having moderate or advanced swimmer's ear, instead of making an appointment, one should go to the emergency room. No one should hesitate and no one should weight if they're experiencing severe pain or a fever.

How Can Swimmer's Ear Be Treated?

      Otitis externa, or swimmer's ear as its more commonly known can be treated. Depending on the severity of the swimmers ear, different treatments may be necessary. However usually the use of eardrops is enough. Sometimes however, eardrops alone are not used. There are other additional drugs for other reasons to help someone suffering from otitis externa get better. Although the eardrops will be the only thing to heal ones otitis externa, pain medication will most likely also be prescribed.

     While one is recovering from swimmer's ear, some activities will need to be abolished from ones daily or weekly schedule. Sometimes plans may have to be set aside if they deal with any of the following.

Someone With Swimmer's Ear Should Not


    • Swim[3733]

    • Scuba dive[3733]

    • Wear anything like earplugs, hearing aids or headphones. At least not before the pain or discharge has stopped.[3733]

    • Fly[3733]

      All of the above should be avoided, as many of these things can set the healing process back. In fact those are some of the things which could have caused ones swimmers ear in the first place.


A person with swimmer's ear and even those who don't have it should “avoid getting water into their ear canal when bathing.”[3733] It's also suggested that a person should “use a cotton ball coated with petroleum jelly to protect their ears during a bath.”[3733]

Can Swimmer's Ear Be Prevented?

     Yes, swimmers ear can be prevented. That doesn't mean that the preventatives will always be able to prevent one from developing otitits externa. However, preventative measures will help to reduce the risk of developing swimmer's ear.

What Are The Preventative Measures Of Otitis Externa?

     One can help prevent themselves and one's children should they have any from getting swimmer's ear by keeping their ears dry. Keeping ones ears dry is a preventive measure which is a step in the right direction.

     One can also use eardrops even if they don't already have otitis externa both before and after swimming. Doing so may help to prevent bacterial growth.

     When one is using hair care products, putting cotton in ones ear may be a a wise decision. It would certainly help to prevent the occurrence of otitis externa.

     Don't let summer be ruined with swimmer's ear, take the necessary precautions and one will be able to enjoy a great summer.