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Swimmer’s Ear

By: Elena Jamscek

Staying with a summer time theme, tis the season of swimmer’s ear! As a kid I was on a swim team at our small town country club and when I was between the ages of 8-14 we had a pool in our backyard. So needless to say I was in the water A LOT! I had swimmer’s ear or an outer ear infection constantly in the summers. Thank goodness my grandmother is a physician assistant and saved my parents some trips to the Doc.

Here are some ways to distinguish between ear pains:

  • Inner ear pressure or it sounds like your listening to people through a seashell à sinus drainage: try an antihistamine to try and dry that drainage up (most of the time this pain is in both ears)
  • Sharp ear pain that is on one side only à middle ear infection: text books tell us that this ear infection will run it’s course and just to treat with Motrin. If this pain lasts for more than 3 days I think a visit to me would be warranted!
  • Pain with movement of the ear itself à swimmer’s ear: a lot of times this requires antibiotic drops, but sometimes you can hold it off with homemade preventative drops.
  • One time sharp pain that is followed by change in hearing à it’s possible that you have ruptured your ear drum; come visit me so I can make sure before you go and try any drops in that ear!

Back to swimmer’s ear though…Since it was so frequent that I would get swimmer’s ear, my mom would make me lay down every night during the summer and we would use our homemade preventative drops in each ear. She would mix together equal parts rubbing alcohol and white vinegar and put it in an old eye drop container. The alcohol has a drying effect and the vinegar helps fight germs!

  1. Have your child…or yourself…after swimming, tilt their head to the side and shake the head to help drain the water.
  2. Take a piece of toilet tissue, wrap it around your finger and gently absorb the remaining water around the edges
  3. Lie down and use 5 drops of the alcohol/vinegar mixture in the ear. Rub the outside of the ear to disperse the mixture then let it sit for about 5 minutes.
  4. Switch and do the opposite ear the same way.

Hope this helps those recurrent ear aches of the summer! Don’t forget ear plugs are also an option during pool time too!