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.
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.
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.
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.