Summer has finally arrived! This is a period of warmth, beaches, relaxation, and swimming. Some people swim gently, without unnecessary splashes. Others prefer active recreation. Of course, in this case, water can enter the ear canal and cause an ear infection.
Let’s take a closer look at this process, which is far from harmless as it might seem at first glance.
Why is water in the ear dangerous?
Water usually enters the ear canal while bathing. In most cases, it flows out on its own and does not lead to discomfort or unpleasant sensations. However, if the water does not come out for a long time, it sometimes leads to hearing issues, including middle ear infections!
Middle ear infections, also called acute otitis media, cause pain and inflammation in the ears. A particular danger is the long-term accumulation of fluid in the middle ear because this can lead to chronic otitis media and, as a consequence, permanent hearing loss.
According to statistics, people visit the ENT doctors in the summer at least as often as in the winter! The main reason for it are the problems that arise due to the ingress of fluid/water into the ear canal. What does a person feel in such a situation?
Water may flow very shallowly in the ear canal. It’s not difficult to remove it, but the symptoms are very unpleasant, many suffer from gurgling and burning. The problem is more serious, as shooting pains and congestion are added to the symptoms.
The occlusion of the wax in the ear canal is another complication when water gets into the ear. A clogged ear is formed this way. Even though there is no more water in the ear, tinnitus and congestion sometimes continue to bother a person, because the wax swells and fills the ear canal. Do not try to remove it, you risk driving the earwax even deeper. You’ll need to contact a hearing care professional to solve the problem.
However, these unpleasant symptoms are not the dire consequences. Water can enter the ear with an infection that damages the eardrum, leading to hearing loss in the most severe cases! Remember that water and ear infections are closely related!
After water gets into the ear canal, there is often a feeling of something foreign inside the ear canal. Hearing is often impaired. If you notice congestion, then be sure to take our online hearing test. It’ll show the presence or absence of the problem plus it’s completely free!
With fluid/water in the ear canal, you may experience congestion, noise, the sound of water, and even pain. Such a condition is called Swimmer’s Ear.
Summer – a time of rest and “Swimmer’s Ear”
We are all looking forward to summer. Many people go to the beach during their holidays to relax, sunbathe and swim. For the sake of vacation, we can spend a lot of money and go on a long journey! But imagine the following. Everyone is splashing in warm, clear water, and you or your child are sadly sitting on the shore.
Alas, this happens quite often if an infection, known as “swimmer’s ear”, interferes with your vacation plans. A little bit of water in the ear canal is enough for that.
Swimmer’s ear is a type of otitis externa that has a very long-lasting character. When water gets into the ear, many people try to clean the ear cavity with cotton swabs, which damages the skin inside the ear canal. Pathogenic bacteria from the water immediately colonize such areas, leading to inflammation. Summer otitis begins with itching inside the ear. Without timely treatment, itching develops into pain. First, a clear yellowish liquid begins to flow from the ear, after a while, it turns into pus. If left untreated, the problem may lead to hearing loss.
Do not confuse “Swimmer’s ear” with the more common otitis media – these are different diseases. In the first case, the tissues of the shell and ear canal are affected, up to the eardrum. In some cases, the inflammation can spread to the deeper structures of the ear.
Unfortunately, vacationers often miss the moment when water enters the ear and simply do not pay attention to it. However, you can use custom hearing protection to avoid this situation.
It’s not always easy to get rid of fluid trapped in the ear canal on your own. Better not to do it at all, as inept and too vigorous actions can lead to the eardrum’s injury.
Dr. Zhanneta Shapiro recommends a simple and effective solution – use special swimming earplugs. They are suitable for both adults and children. The market nowadays offers a large selection of swimming ear plugs of various types and sizes. Alternatively, you can order a customized product that will fit your ear perfectly.
Remember that earplugs are much more effective than a swim cap, as it doesn’t always cover your ears tightly to keep water out. The cap serves rather as a means of hygiene, covering the hair.
Should I see a doctor for help?
Summer is a great time, which should not be overshadowed by health problems. Therefore, when going to a water park or to the beach, do not forget to take swimming earplugs for yourself and your children.
If the water, somehow got into the ear causing a painful sensation, you should consult a doctor. Our practical experience shows that after removing water from the ear, the patient might still suffer from some discomfort in the ear for some time. Impacted earwax can cause pain. It turns into a tight plug and presses on the nerve endings, causing discomfort. You are unlikely to be able to take it out on your own. You will likely push it deeper or even damage your eardrum. Therefore, you should not be experimenting without the help of a doctor!
Remember, delaying a visit to your doctor can lead to serious complications that, in severe cases, lead to hearing loss. Therefore, watch your health, use earplugs for swimming, and remove water from the ear canal in time. If you cannot do it yourself, then be sure to contact Audiology Island. Enjoy your sunny days!
About Dr Zhanneta Shapiro
Dr Zhanneta Shapiro received her Masters of Science from Brooklyn College in 2005 and completed her Doctorate of Audiology from Florida University in May 2008. Her graduate training was in various hospitals in the tri-state area and a residency period completed at Ear Nose and Throat Associates of New York. [ Learn More ]