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Ask Anna: Can swimmer’s ear cause hearing loss?

swimmer's ear cause hearing loss

Ask Anna is a weekly advice column for the hearing loss community.

Dear Anna,

During the summer months, my children are constantly in the pool. Every so often one of them will come back from the pool with swimmer’s ear. I am worried that if this happens too often it will affect their hearing. Can swimmer’s ear cause hearing loss?  – Concerned mother

Dear Concerned Mother,

The short answer is, no. It is very unlikely that swimmer’s ear will cause hearing loss, as long as you seek treatment as soon as possible.

Swimmer’s ear is an infection that develops in your outer ear. This is the part of your ear you can see and continues into the opening of the ear canal up to your ear drum. It is referred to as swimmer’s ear because it can occur after water has got into the ear and remains there after swimming. You may hear a doctor or audiologist refer to it as Otitis Externa.

The water left in the ear creates a lovely warm moist environment where bacteria can thrive. Less common are infections caused by a virus or fungus.  It is important to mention that this doesn’t happen to everyone or every time you go swimming as the ear has pretty good defense mechanisms like ear wax that is designed to prevent things like this happening.

How to treat swimmer’s ear

Fortunately, this condition can be easily treated with eardrops prescribed by your general practitioner. It is important that you go to see your doctor as soon as you experience symptoms to prevent the condition getting worse.

Mild signs and symptoms:

  • Itching in your ear canal
  • Slight redness of the ear
  • Mild discomfort that you can feel more when you press down on your ear with your finger or if you pull your ear slightly.
  • Clear fluid that you may see coming out of the opening of your ear.
  • A temporary hearing loss (muffled sound)

The hearing loss will improve as the infection clears up. This is why it is so important to get to see a doctor for treatment as soon as possible.

How to prevent swimmer’s ear.

If you have experienced Swimmer’s ear and want to avoid this again here are some tips to consider.

1. Keep the water out of your ear with a swim plug or swim mold from over the counter or custom made by your hearing care professional. 

2. Check if the pool has chlorinated or filtered water.

3. If you are swimming in rivers, lakes or the sea, try to find out how good the quality of the water is before you go swimming.

I hope these tips help you, please let me know if you have any additional questions.


Do you have a question for Anna? Email: or on Twitter @Phonak

The information provided through this website should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the Hearing Like Me website. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or emergency medical services immediately.
Author Details
Anna is currently the Senior Audiology Manager at Phonak. She has worked in the field of audiology and hearing aids for 25 years, and is passionate about all things audiology.