In summer, and throughout the year, people who like to swim or play in the water can be susceptible to “swimmer’s ear” (otitis externa). This painful infection happens when the skin inside the ear canal becomes infected. Often this happens after a person submerges under water, exposing their ears to the bacteria that lives in water. If the water doesn’t get drained properly, it can infect the skin inside the ear canal. Once infected, the skin swells. Swimmer’s ear is often painful and can lead to hearing loss.
Besides pain, muffled hearing can be a sign of swimmer’s ear. Another symptom may be tinnitus. Fortunately, treating the infection with an antibiotic relieves the symptoms, including temporary hearing loss.
Swimming isn’t the only thing that increase your chances of infection. If you use cotton swabs (Q-tips), you may damage the skin and make it easier for bacteria to pass through.
If you have concerns about your hearing, the Campaign for Better Hearing partners with hearing centers across the US. To learn more about hearing loss and to see if you have diminished hearing, find a location near you to make an appointment today.