Swimming is one of the healthiest body exercises, providing full body exercises and using only body weight and no additional burdens. The water is diminishing the weight to be carried, making it seem easy to swim. Many professional swimmers, especially those who can be seen in various competitions, including the competitive divers, can be seen wearing silicone earplugs. This is done to avoid the danger of contracting otitis externa when spending a lot of time submerged in any water.
Swimmer’s ear, or externa otitis, is typically a bacterial infection of the skin of the outer ear canal. ln contrast to a middle ear infection, swimmers ear is an infection of the outer ear. Otitis externa is an infection that occurs in the ear canal. This infection can be caused by a bacteria or fungi. Often this condition is also known as swimmer’s ear as people who swim regularly are prone to this ear infection. When a person stays in the water for a long time with the water containing some types of bacteria, the lining of the ear canal can get inflamed and the ear canal is more susceptible to infection. A painful earache is caused by the inflammation of the ear canal skin. The most common cause of this ear condition is swimming in dirty or somewhat contaminated water. lt happens that any water trapped for a while in the ear canal can cause it, especially in tropical and sub-tropical climates. Usually, people get swimmer’s ear during summer months. However, it can occur at any time of the year. ln addition, the skin in the ear also changes due to humidity in summer months making it more prone to infection.
Swimmer’s ear, which is the common name for otitis externa, can be prevented by silicone earplugs. They are most commonly used to protect the hearing from noise but have been recognized by swimmers to be excellent in protecting their ears from water. There are several silicone earplugs products available, most popular are ones made out of silicone putty, which is completely moldable to fit individuals-
Silicone earplugs were invented by Raymond Benner, a musician whg bought the existing earplug business from a pharmacist. The product was called Mack’s Earplugs and these were not made out of silicone, but some moldable clay mixture. Benner bought the business for two thousand dollars and gave it to his wife because she needed a challenge while he was playing with the symphonic orchestra. out of that business, the biggest seller of silicone earplugs in the United States was born. Because Benner was an avid swimmer, he wanted to have plugs which could keep away as much water as possible, because regular plugs did not provide that feature. They seemed to do the trick, sold under the brand name Mack’s Pillow Soft moldable silicone earplugs. Their expanded line today features all possible moldable and previously molded foam and silicone earplugs.
Reusable silicone earplugs should be thoroughly cleaned before being used again, it is possible that the plugs, when re-molded at the next insertion, provide bacteria and fungus for an infection, possibly causing otitis externa. Most professional swimmers use therefore disposable ones, an infection could have consequences causing training are missed and the schedule disrupted.
When trying to avoid an exposure of ears and the ear canal to water and avoid under all costs an otitis externa infection, there is nothing better than silicone earplugs. At the workplace, you are protected by various legislation to help ensure your employer makes an effort to protect your hearing. For social activities please ensure you take adequate care aS ear damage’is not reversible. people suffering from chronic skin conditions like seborrhea or eczema are more prone to getting this infection. Other people who can get this type of ear infection include:
- People who have experienced an injury to the ear canal
- People who naturally have small ear canals that do not drain out water completely on
- their own
- People who suffer from chronic infections of the middle ear
- People who use hairspray or earplugs often
- People who tend to get water into their ears while taking a bath or shower.
Some of the common symptoms of swimmer’s ear or otitis externa are as follows:
- Severe itching of the ear canal (ltchy ears)
- The skin of the outer ear turns red (swelling of the ear canal).
- There is yellow or green color discharge from the ear canal.
- The person experiences pain while talking or chewing, or when the ear is touched.
- The person notices a sudden decrease in his or her hearing.
Swimmer’s ear can occur in both acute and chronic forms. Acute external otitis is commonly a bacterial infection caused by Streptococcus, Staphylococcus or Pseudomonas types of bacteria. Chronic (long-term) swimmer’s ear is otitis externa that persists for longer than four weeks or that occurs more than four times a year. This condition can be caused by a bacterial infection, a skin condition (eczema or seborrhea), fungal infection (Aspergillosis), chronic irritation (such as from the use of hearing aids, insertion of cotton swabs, etc.), allergy, chronic drainage from middle ear disease, tumors (rare), or it may simply follow from a nervous habit of frequently scratching the ear. ln some people, more than one factor may be involved. For example, a person with eczema may subsequently develop black ear drainage. This would suggest an accompanying fungal infection. Chronic swimmer’s ear can become a serious disease (malignant external otitis). Malignant external otitis is a misnomer because it is not a tumor or cancer, but rather an aggressive bacterial (typically Pseudomonos) infection of the base of the skull.
Swimmer’s ear infection usually is caused by excessive water exposure from swimming, diving, surfing, kayaking, or other water sports. When water collects in the ear canal (frequently trapped by wax), the skin can become soggy and serve as an inviting area for bacteria to grow. Cuts or abrasions in the lining of the ear canal (for example, from cotton swab injury) also can predispose to bacterial infection of the ear canal. Frequent instrumentation (usually with cotton swabs) of the ear canal is another potential cause of external ear infection.
The diagnosis of this condition is made by thoroughly examining the ear. The doctor will use a special tool known as otoscope to check the ear for any signs of infections like redness or discharge. Once otitis externa is diagnosed, the person will be put on antibiotics to treat the infection. There will be a noticeable improvement in the next one to three days. And by 7 to 10 days, the infection will disappear completely. However, if water keeps entering the ear, there is the possibilityof the infection recurring. So, it is besttotake precautionsto avoid gettingwater into the ear. Regardless of the cause, moisture and irritation will prolong the course of the problem.
Swimmer’s ear may develop in children after swimming in natural water sources or taking part in other water activities. The child may complain of intense pain on movement of the ear, itching, or a sense of fullness. Discharge from the ear may occur. Treatment involves antibiotics, pain control medications, and sometimes antihistamines to reduce itching. Ear symptoms in children can also arise from middle ear infections (otitis media) or foreign bodies in the ear. Your doctor can determine whether your child’s ear pain is due to swimmer’s ear or another condition. Home remedies to help prevent swimmer’s ear include:
- Take measures to keep the ears dry at alltimes.
- Use earplugs or a cotton ball with Vaseline on the outside to plug the ears when showering or swimming.
- Don’t scratch the inside of the ear because this may make the condition worse.
- An eardrop preparation made of rubbing alcohol and vinegar can be used after swimming to remove water from the ears and help prevent swimmer’s ear.
- Antibiotic eardrops and avoidance of water in the ear are frequently necessary for treatment. lf the ear is very swollen, a wick may need to be inserted into the ear canal to allow penetration of the eardrops.
- Follow your doctor’s instructions for use of any eardrops or medications
- Proper ear care can avoid most infections.
- Decrease exposure to water.
- lf you are prone to infections, it’s recommended that you use an ear plug when you bathe or swim. Swimmer’s ear drops or alcohol drops (Swim-EAR®) used in the ear after water exposure followed by drying the ear with a hair dryer held at arm’s length will often help keep the ear free of moisture.
- Do not insert instruments, scratch, or use cotton swabs in the ears.
- Try to keep the ear free of wax. This may require visits to the doctor to have your ears cleaned.
- You should not attempt to put anything into the ear canal (such as a swab) to try to remove earwax that is deep within the ear canal.
- lf you already have an ear infection, or if you have a hole in your eardrum, or if you have had ear surgery or ear tubes, first consult your doctor prior to swimming and before you use any type of ear drop.
Swimmer’s ear is a treatable condition that usually resolves quickly with appropriate treatment. Most often, swimmer’s ear can be easily treated with antibiotic eardrops. The doctor may advise using a wick to administer medication while the ear canal is swollen. Chronic swimmer’s ear may require more intensive treatment. Swimmer’s ear typically does not have any long-term or serious complications.
This condition is commonly caused by bacteria and in some cases by fungus. The symptoms are redness of the ear, inflammation of the ear canal, severe pain when touched, itching, ringing noises, swollen lymph nodes and fluid drainage. The hearing may be also affected temporarily in some people. Some experience slight fever too.
Antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medicines are available to treat swimmers ear. Some further home remedies are:
Heat compress: Take a hand towel and warm it against heat. Apply it on the affected area. Take care that the towel is not hot.
Garlic Oil: Put few drops of garlic oil and then drain. One should include garlic in their diet too.
Vinegar: This is a common home remedy for swimmer’s ears. Put few drops of white vinegar and drain.after a while. For example, put 2 to 4 drops of full strength vinegar into the ear every three hours. Vinegar contains anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
Baby oil: Warm the baby oil and put few drops.
Witch Hazel: This is an effective herb for swimmer’s ears. Dab cotton swab in witch hazel tea and dab this on the infected area gently. Witch hazel has anti-inflammatory properties.
Echinacea: This should be taken in appropriate doses for increasing immunity and fighting with the bacteria.
Calendula Oil: This oil helps in fighting the infection and killing the bacteria. Apply this for a soothing relief.
Castor Oil: Warm castor oil and apply a few drops.
Olive oil: Olive oil may also be warmed, applied, then drained out.
Ethyl alcohol: Ethyl alcohol not only kills germs, it also helps the water trapped in the ear to evaporate.
Apple cider vinegar: Use apple cider vinegar as eardrops. This is an effective option as you can simply put in three or four drops after swimming or showering. This is a good precautionary measure against future infection.
Garlic and olive oil: Heat the garlic and add five teaspoons of olive oil. Let it cool for about ten minutes and use it as eardrops. Same as the vinegar, it contains anti-bacterial properties.
Take care not to damage the lining by inserting objects. Avoid contaminated pools. Always wear a swimming cap and safe earplugs while swimming. Dry your ear after bathing and swimming. Eat a nutritious diet to increase your immunity.
SWIMMERS EAR DROPS
Ear drops are the best medicine for swimmer’s ear, according to the first-ever recommendations on how to treat the common condition. Swimmer’s ear affects about one in every 100-250 Americans each year and is caused by water trapped in the ear canal.
The guidelines recommend using ear drops to treat swimmer’s ear locally and say that oral antibiotics should not be used unless the infection has spread outside the ear canal or if there are other symptoms that call for oral antibiotics. Experts say antiseptic and antibiotic ear drops are the preferred treatment for most cases of swimmer’s ear because they offer safe, prompt, and effective relief while not promoting antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Oral antibiotics are not recommended for initial treatment of swimmer’s ear because overuse of antibiotics can increase the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, are associated with more side effects, and may be less effective than ear drops. People with eardrum tubes or perforated eardrums should use one of the newer antibiotic ear drops that are approved for this purpose and do not cause hearing loss. Ear drops are only effective when used propedy. Healthcare providers should inform patients howto use ear drops, clean obstructing debris from the ear canal, and insert a wick, when necessary, to allow the drops to enter the ear canal if it is very swolten. Ear candles are not recommended for treating swimmer’s ear because they have never been proven effective and have dangerous side effects that inelude burns and a perforated eardrum. Patients should avoid water sports tor 7 to 10 days during treatment.