Why Do People Get Swimmer’s Ear
Most of the time, your ear fights off the germs that cause swimmer’s ear on its own. You can thank your earwax for that. While it doesn’t get much respect, earwax helps protect the ear canal from damage and makes it hard for germs to grow.
But if the skin gets scratched, germs can get into your ear canal and cause an infection. Some common reasons you may get swimmer’s ear are:
Sticking stuff in your ear. If you use cotton swabs, fingers, hairpins, pen caps, or anything else to clean your ears, it can rub away the protective earwax or scratch your skin. Even ear buds, earplugs, and hearing aids can have this effect, especially if you use them a lot.
Moisture trapped in your ear. When water gets stuck in your ear canal after swimming — or after you soak in a hot tub or even take a shower or bath — it can remove some of the earwax and soften the skin, which makes it easier for germs to get in.
Humid weather and sweat can cause the same problem. Germs like a warm, wet place to grow, so moisture trapped in your ear is perfect for them.
Other things can play a role in swimmer’s ear, like:
Your age. While swimmer’s ear can happen to anyone, it’s most common in kids and early teenagers.
Narrow ear canals. Kids often have ear canals that are small and don’t drain as well.
Can Water In The Ear Cause An Ear Infection
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Causes And Risk Factors For An Ear Infection
An ear infection occurs when there is inflammation. It is a viral infection that mostly affects the middle ear and occurs when fluid builds up behind the eardrum and tissues behind it. This happens when air does not reach to the middle ear. The fluids from the throat and nose are suctioned into the middle ear. This infection happens to individuals of all ages, but it mostly occurs in young children. This is because the child is still in the maturing stage and the immune system is developing. Therefore, their small ears do not drain the fluid. The tubes get swollen, and the fluid cannot be removed.
Look at the causes of ear infections now.
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Causes And Symptoms Of Swimmer’s Ear
When water goes into the ear and causes infections late, Swimmer’s ear can occur as we discussed above. It can also occur due to sand and small debris accumulation in the ear canal. In addition, any other factor, such as, excessive cleaning of the ears or the use of hearing aids can also cause irritation in the ear that results in otitis externa. People living in tropical countries, who have eczema and very little ear wax, are also at risk of getting this bacterial infection.
Pain in the ear is the first symptom experienced with otitis externa. The pain can intensify when touched or when chewing foods. Itching and a yellowish discharge, swelling of the ear canal and the outer ear are also common symptoms that occur with swimmer’s ear.
If you have these symptoms, you’d better consult a doctor to get proper treatment and avoid any complications with it.
Otitis Media In Adults
Otitis media is another name for a middle ear infection. It means an infection behind your eardrum. This kind of ear infection can happen after any condition that keeps fluid from draining from the middle ear. These conditions include allergies, a cold, a sore throat, or a respiratory infection.
Middle ear infections are common in children, but they can also happen in adults. An ear infection in an adult may mean a more serious problem than in a child. So you may need additional tests. If you have an ear infection, you should see your healthcare provider for treatment. If they happen repeatedly, you should see an otolaryngologist or an otologist .
What are the types of middle ear infections?
Infections can affect the middle ear in several ways. They are:
Who is more likely to get a middle ear infection?
You are more likely to get an ear infection if you:
- Smoke or are around someone who smokes
- Have seasonal or year-round allergy symptoms
- Have a cold or other upper respiratory infection
What causes a middle ear infection?
The middle ear connects to the throat by a canal called the eustachian tube. This tube helps even out the pressure between the outer ear and the inner ear. A cold or allergy can irritate the tube or cause the area around it to swell. This can keep fluid from draining from the middle ear. The fluid builds up behind the eardrum. Bacteria and viruses can grow in this fluid. The bacteria and viruses cause the middle ear infection.
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Causes Of Swimmer’s Ear
- Water – dirty water can deliver bacteria to the ear canal. A wet ear canal is also prone to dermatitis. Tiny cracks or splits in the skin can allow bacteria to enter.
- Mechanical damage – attempts to clean the ears using fingernails, cotton buds or other objects may cut the delicate tissues of the ear canal and lead to infection.
- Chemical irritation – hairsprays, shampoos and hair dyes may get into the ear canal and irritate the tissues.
- Middle ear infection – an infection within the middle ear can trigger an infection or inflammation in the ear canal.
- Diabetes – this condition can make earwax too alkaline, which creates a more hospitable environment for infectious agents.
- Folliculitis – an infected hair follicle within the ear canal can trigger a generalised infection.
- Narrow ear canals – some people’s ear canals are narrower than usual. This means that water can’t drain as effectively.
Infections Inside The Ear
Antibiotics are not usually offered because infections inside the ear often clear up on their own and antibiotics make little difference to symptoms, including pain.
Antibiotics might be prescribed if:
- an ear infection does not start to get better after 3 days
- you or your child has any fluid coming out of the ear
- you or your child has an illness that means there’s a risk of complications, such as cystic fibrosis
They may also be prescribed if your child is less than 2 years old and has an infection in both ears.
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Hot Tub Rash Causes Itchy Red Bumps Or Pus
This itchy rash, formally known as Pseudomonas folliculitis, occurs when the microscopic Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria comes into contact with your skin for a long period of time. It can show up in hot tubs, pools, and lakes.
Although it may seem like the heat could kill unwanted guests, hot tubs are actually more prone to bacteria than pools because disinfectives like chlorine break down faster in high temperatures.
The good news is that, while its uncomfortable, hot tub rash will usually clear up on its own in a few days.
What Can You Wear To A Pool Party
Most pool parties have casual dress codes and invite guests to wear laid-back, comfortable clothing. This often includes cover-ups, shorts, summer dresses and T-shirts. If the party carries over into the night, its a good idea to bring either a summer hoodie or light sweater to wear once the temperature drops.
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Why Does It Feel Like Water In My Ear
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If you have the feeling like water in your ear, it could actually be water or plugged ears. As already discussed, you can easily conclude that it is actually water that has gotten into or has been stuck in your ears especially if you feel that way after swimming, taking a shower or bath, after diving, etc.
However, if you are hearing water in the ear accompanied with ringing or crackling sound and it often happens when you wake up, nothing comes out when you try the above removal method it could be plugged ears. This problem can stay for weeks or months and at times you will always or constantly have this feeling of water in your ears.
Another common symptom of plugged or clogged ears is the loss of hearing i.e. muffling of sound. This happens when the eustachian tube becomes blocked/clogged and/or the ear canal gets clogged with earwax. Furthermore, too much earwax might touch the eardrum hampering the normal hearing process and creating the sensation of water behind the ear.
To some people, the feeling might hurt . However, in most cases, it doesnt hurt. Other common symptoms include your ears feeling like underwater, dizziness, etc.
We have already looked at plugged ears symptoms, causes that include allergies, swimmers ear, cold, sinus infection, after taking a flight, etc., how to clear clogged ears as well as home remedies and treatments worthwhile trying. See more on clogged ears to know what to do.
Adenoids And/or Tonsil Removal
Adenoid removal or adenoid and tonsil removal may help some children who have repeat ear infections or fluid behind the eardrum. Children younger than 4 don’t usually have their adenoids taken out unless they have severe nasal blockage.
As a treatment for chronic ear infections, experts recommend removing adenoids and tonsils only after tubes and antibiotics have failed. Removing adenoids may improve air and fluid flow in nasal passages. This may reduce the chance of fluid collecting in the middle ear, which can lead to infection. When used along with other treatments, removing adenoids can help some children who have repeat ear infections. But taking out the tonsils with the adenoids isn’t very helpful.footnote 4 Tonsils are removed if they are frequently infected. Experts don’t recommend tonsil removal alone as a treatment for ear infections.footnote 5
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Water In The Middle Ear Water Behind Eardrums
For people who have undergone myringotomy, a surgical procedure where an incision is made on the eardrum to help drain fluid and thus bringing pressure balance on the outside and inside the ear, have had a small tube placed in their eardrum to correct Eustachian tube dysfunction or have perforated eardrums, water can get into middle ear i.e. they can have water trapped behind the eardrum.
This often happens after swimming, diving or showering and when it happens some of the water in middle ear symptoms you will have will include pain, dizziness , muffled hearing, etc.
Sometimes, suffering from otitis media, especially otitis media with effusion can result to thick or sticky fluid behind the eardrum in the middle ear which will not be water for this case but you will feel much or less the same as having water in your middle ear.
Younger children tend to suffer from otitis media with effusion more often than adults since their eustachian tubes are shorter, floppier with smaller openings and get colds more frequently.
Do not try any of the discussed ways or remedies for removing water from the ear when it comes to clearing water from behind eardrum. Visit a doctor for cure or treatment in case of any infection or removal of water from your middle ear. Doing it on your own could harm your delicate middle ear.
Your Pool Could Be Making You Sick
If youve ever been sick after swimming, it may have been due to contaminated pool water. According to a 2018 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , more than 27,000 people have gotten sick from pools, hot tubs, and splash pads. Luckily, there are precautions you can take to make sure you dont add yourself to that number. If you have a pool, it all starts with your water source. Here are 17 things you need to know about tap waterand whether yours is safe.
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Is It Really An Ear Infection
Your ears arent something you think about on a regular basis, but you use them every day. When they cause you pain or discomfort, you notice them on a whole new level. Ear infections are common in children and adults get them on occasion. However, ear infections arent the only issues that arise within the ears. There can also be fluid in the ears, which is sometimes called swimmers ear, which can cause discomfort in a number of ways.
Can Middle Ear Infections Be Prevented
It’s not possible to prevent middle ear infections, but there are some things you can do that may reduce your child’s risk of developing the condition. These include:
- make sure your child is up-to-date with their routine vaccinations particularly the pneumococcal vaccine and the DTaP/IPV/Hib vaccine
- avoid exposing your child to smoky environments
- don’t give your child a dummy once they’re older than six to 12 months old
- don’t feed your child while they’re lying flat on their back
- if possible, feed your baby with breast milk rather than formula milk
Avoiding contact with other children who are unwell may also help reduce your child’s chances of catching an infection that could lead to a middle ear infection.
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When To See Your Doctor
Trapped water usually goes away without treatment. If it bothers you, consider trying one of these home treatments to help relieve your discomfort. But if the water is still trapped after 2 to 3 days or if you show signs of infection, you should call your doctor.
If your ear becomes inflamed or swollen, you may have developed an ear infection. An ear infection can become serious if you dont get treatment for it. It may lead to hearing loss or other complications, such as cartilage and bone damage.
Your doctor can prescribe medications to eliminate infection and relieve pain.
What Are The Complications Of Swimmers Ear
If left untreated, swimmers ear may cause other problems such as:
- Hearing loss from a swollen and inflamed ear canal. Hearing usually returns to normal when the infection clears up.
- Ear infections that keep coming back
- Bone and cartilage damage
- Infection spreading to nearby tissue, the skull, brain, or the nerves that start directly in the brain
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Headphones Carry Dirt And Bacteria
Depending on the type of headphones you have, they could be more likely to pick up and carry dirt and bacteria. On-ear headphones sit right on your ear canal, making the transmission easier they are also often uncovered, meaning the sponge can absorb more dirt and pathogens.
Ideally, you want something thats easy to clean and doesnt come into close contact with your ear canal. Over-ear headphones are usually covered with strong material, leather and pleather being the easiest to clean, and the cups are replaceable.
Earbuds are the worst as they go straight into the ear. Do yourself a favor, just quickly take out your earphones and look inside the silicone tips. Prepare yourself, it aint gonna be pretty. Luckily, theyre quite simple to clean.
When you take them out of your ears, you usually just pop them in your bag, trouser pockets, or whatever youve got with you, right? And then put them back in our ears later without even thinking about it. You are actually introducing a whole new biome to your sensitive ear ecosystem. Dont do that, clean them regularly, and use a dedicated protective casing to store them when youre not using them.
Cleaning them is simple, and youd be surprised at the gunk that comes out. For easy to follow steps, go to the end of the article.
How To Spot An Infection
Look out for these symptoms of swimmerâs ear — just in case the drying tips didnât work:
- Itching in your ear canal
- Redness inside your ear
- Discomfort or pain that gets worse when you pull on your outer ear or push on the little bump in front of your ear
- Clear, odorless fluid that drains from your ear canal
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Who Is At Risk For Swimmer’s Ear
You are at greater risk for swimmer’s ear if you:
- Have contact with germs in hot tubs or unclean pool water
- Have a cut in the skin of your ear canal
- Hurt your ear canal by putting cotton swabs, fingers, or other objects inside your ears
- Use head phones, hearing aids, or swimming caps
- Have a skin condition such as eczema
When Should I Seek Medical Attention
You should call your doctor if the discharge from your ear is white, yellow, or bloody or if youve had discharge for more than five days. Sometimes ear discharge may occur with other symptoms, such as a fever. Tell your doctor if you have any accompanying symptoms.
If you experience serious pain, your ear is swollen or red, or you have a loss of hearing, you should see your doctor.
If you have an injury to the ear that causes discharge, thats another good reason to consult a doctor.
You can connect with an ENT in your area using the Healthline FindCare tool.
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How To Diagnose And Treat Swimmer’s Ear
If you have ear pain, don’t wait — see your doctor right away. Getting treatment quickly can stop an infection from getting worse.
During your appointment, your doctor will look in your ear and may gently clean it out. This will help treatments work better.