Can Water Damage Our Ears?

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Swimming, or simply being in the water, is something enjoyed by millions of people and known to be one of the most effective ways to exercise. But whilst water offers up a multitude of benefits, it’s worth being aware that H₂O can have a downside – especially where the ears are concerned.   

Why is it that swimmers wear earplugs? Not just world champion and Olympic swimmers at the pinnacle of the sport, but also those who take to the water purely for fun and recreation. The answer is to protect the ears from water damage and the condition known as swimmer’s ear.

What is Swimmer’s Ear

This is an infection of the outer ear, often brought on by not properly clearing water out of the ear after swimming, particularly if you swim regularly. That said, it can also occur if you don’t dry your ears out carefully after a bath or shower.  Residue moisture can be a breeding ground for bacteria – which starts the infection.

The Symptoms

It usually involves itching in the ear canal and a slight redness. There may be some mild discomfort, which can be aggravated by prodding and pushing the ear. If left untreated, however, the area could become increasingly painful, resulting in swelling of the ear, a pus discharge and eventually, a complete blockage of the ear canal and associated fever. So it pays to catch the condition early.

Treatment and Prevention

Usually, swimmer’s ear can be treated with over-the-counter eardrops, as advised by the pharmacist – the quicker the better- to prevent the onset of a more serious infection. Additionally, treat the condition by gently cleaning the ear canal, using a clean, soft wash-cloth. This will eliminate any debris or flaky skin, which is the bacteria’s food source. 

But prevention is always better than cure. So if you can keep water out of your ear canal in the first place, then you are less likely to have a problem.

Also, avoid swimming in lakes, ponds or rivers full of bacteria and make sure any pools or spas you frequent are clean. Dirty water can be full of harmful microbes, so if you are unsure, it’s best to stay out of the water altogether.

Earplugs for Swimming

Having the correct ear plugs for swimming will help prevent any issues like swimmer’s ear occurring. Custom moulded earplugs offer superb protection against this problem. They provide a watertight seal that will keep water from seeping into the ear canal. Furthermore, the earplugs we recommend are anti-bacterial – ensuring your ears stay healthy and infection free. 

Swimming is a fabulous form of exercise which should always be encouraged. But water can be a nuisance and irritant – so it definitely makes sense to have the right earplug protection in place before you next take the plunge in your local pool.