With winter weather settling in, it's that time of year when many families start taking advantage of the indoor pool services at the local community center. If you're spending your winter playing in the pool with the kids, it's important that you don't dismiss complaints of an earache at any stage. Swimmer's ear is an inflammatory infection of the outer ear that's usually due to moisture being trapped in the ear, and it needs medical attention for treatment. Here are some things you should know about this condition:
How Is Swimmer's Ear Caused?
Whether it's just from spending a lot of time in the pool or due to bacteria or something in the water, when water gets trapped in the ear and cannot drain the way that it's supposed to, it will cause an infection in the ear canal. It's common from swimming pool activity because of the prolonged exposure to the water as well as the chemicals in the pool. If you clean your ears with a cotton swab after swimming, this can contribute as well, as it can pack ear wax around where the water is, keeping it from draining properly.
How Do You Recognize Swimmer's Ear?
Some of the most common symptoms of swimmer's ear include a sensation that the ear is "plugged," itching inside the ear, and even pain in the ear. If the pain worsens when you pull on the outer ear a bit, that's a good indication, because swimmer's ear occurs in the outer ear canal.
As it progresses, you may notice fever as well as swelling in the lymph nodes around your ear. You can even have pain spread to your neck and your face. It needs to be treated to prevent this, and your local urgent care is a great option for treatment.
How Do You Treat Swimmer's Ear?
Your urgent care provider will start treatment by cleaning the ear thoroughly and carefully. The process is best done by a medical professional to prevent pushing bacteria further into the ear canal, which can lead to more severe infection.
You'll be given ear drops that will help to treat the infection directly at the source. Make sure that you follow the administration directions closely to get the maximum benefit from the treatment. If not properly treated, swimmer's ear can lead to hearing loss and even more severe health concerns, so take it seriously.