Listen Up! Preparing For Swimmer's Ear

Reporter: Shannon Samson

Web Producer: Jason Bailey

More than 650 swimmers of all ages will compete Monday and Tuesday for ribbons and trophies in Evansville's summer recreational leagues.

People who spend a great deal of time in the water, are most likely to get swimmer's ear; it is a painful, but easily treatable infection that seems to be pretty common lately.

Hot weather burns up chlorine faster, so outdoor pools may have more bacteria in them. Or, it may just be that more people are swimming because it's hot.

Whatever the case, when water gets stuck inside the ear, bacteria can cause otitis externa, what's commonly called swimmer's ear.

Craig Haseman, M.D. says, "That stagnant water in their ear for a little bit of time is what really starts it off, because the bacteria just start growing in that[water] and then it gets to the point where it causes an infection."

Ear wax actually protects swimmers from bacteria, but too much time in the pool can wash away that protective coating. So some swimmers use ear plugs, although some experts argue they only scratch the ear canal and give bacteria a foothold.

There are over the counter products designed to dry the ears after swimming, but Evansville Pharmacist Paul Mayer maintains four-to-six-drops of a solution of one part alcohol or vinegar, mixed with one part water works just as well.

Home remedies may prevent swimmer's ear, but they won't treat it.

You should see a doctor.

Haseman says, "You use antibiotic drops and about seven days of them and it clears up pretty quickly after two or three days, they should start feeling better."

Haseman adds, "If it doesn't, then that's cause for concern; make sure there's not some other cause for it or make sure it's the correct antibiotic."

You should be back in the pool within a week or ten days at the most.

Parents shouldn't necessarily assume there's something wrong with the pool their child was swimming in if he or she comes down with swimmer's ear.

It's a very common condition that can be caused by bath water, or aqcuired during the winter months.

Antibiotics are an easy fix.