Whether you enjoy swimming in a pool or in the ocean it could be jeopardizing your hearing if you aren’t careful. Although swimming doesn’t cause hearing loss it can cause a condition known as otitis externa (a.ka. swimmer’s ear) that’ll affect your hearing later in your life if improperly managed.
How Swimming Affects Your Ears
Swimmer’s ear occurs when your ears are exposed to a type of bacteria that’s commonly found in natural bodies of water. It can also happen if you swim in an improperly treated pool. When it occurs your ear canal may become inflamed and very often painful. Typically this only occurs when you’ve been exposed to water repeatedly but it only takes a few drops of water to irritate your ear.
Suffering From Severe Swimmer’s Ear
When you have a swimmer’s ear you’ll have moderate to severe pain, itchiness, a liquid discharge, and you may also experience some temporary hearing loss. Fortunately, this is usually mild and can heal up if you keep your ears dry. However, if extreme it can result in an ear infection that has the potential of completely blocking your ear canal. If you’re experiencing increasing redness, pus, swelling, or a decrease in hearing you should contact your doctor right away.
The Results of Improperly Treated Swimmer’s Ear
Improperly treated swimmer’s ear can result in:
- A chronic ear infection that increases your likelihood of developing hearing loss as you grow older
- An infection of the bone and cartilage around your ear
- Damage to your inner ear may sometimes occur resulting in permanent hearing loss
Wearing Hearing Aids and Swimming
You shouldn’t forego swimming just because you wear a hearing aid. However, it is important for you to understand that while your hearing aid may be moisture-resistant this doesn’t mean that you should fully submerge it in water. If you lead a lifestyle in which you spend a lot of time in the water, you should take the time to talk to your hearing specialist about the best type of hearing aid for your lifestyle.
Regardless of whether or not you wear your hearing aids while swimming, it’s still important to maintain them properly. This includes storing, cleaning, and disinfecting them according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. You should also have them serviced regularly so they last longer.
How to Protect Your Ears While Swimming
Whether you’re suffering from hearing loss or find yourself prone to swimmer’s ear, you should take the following precautions to help reduce your likelihood of developing a problem when your ears are exposed to water:
- Make sure you only swim in clean, chlorinated water because stagnant pools tend to harbor bacteria.
- When using waterproof earphones it’s important to make sure you keep them clean and that you store them properly when you’re not using them.
- Wear earplugs or a swimming cap to reduce the amount of water that gets into your ear. Make sure you clean and dry them properly after you’ve used them.
- After you’re done swimming, clean and dry your ears properly. This includes tilting your head to the side to try to drain any water out of them.
- Never try opening a blockage because you may push the wax further into your ear canal which can be damaging.
If you’re experiencing severe pain in your ears or sudden, partial hearing loss after you’ve gone swimming, contact Countryside Hearing Aid Services in Clearwater and Pinellas County.
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