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Swimming and Your Ears: What You Need to Know

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  • Reading time:4 mins read

Swimming is a must-do summer activity no matter your age, whether it’s in a lake, river, ocean, or pool. How likely is it that your favourite hot weather activity can harm your ears and cause hearing loss?

How Swimming Affects Your Ears

Swimming can pose some significant risks to your ears, as it can cause otitis externa, also known as swimmer’s ear. This condition is caused by exposure to bacteria found in natural bodies of water. It can also be contracted in swimming pools or hot tubs that aren’t properly sanitized or treated with chlorine. When contaminated water becomes trapped in your inner ear, the bacteria can breed and cause an infection. Such infections can potentially damage the fragile hair cells inside the ear responsible for transmitting sound, leading to hearing loss.

Protecting your ears from water

If a pool or hot tub is properly maintained and chlorine-treated before entering, you can reduce your risk of getting an ear infection from swimming. Avoid stagnant regions that are more likely to contain high amounts of germs if you like to swim in natural bodies of water. Find out if a water supply poses a risk to safety by conducting some studies as well.

Wearing earplugs while swimming can help further protect your ears by preventing water from entering them. Drug stores sell disposable, water-resistant earplugs, but if you swim frequently, you might want to obtain bespoke ear protection for a reusable option.

  • With a soft towel, dry the outside part of your ear, avoiding the ear canal.
  • To help the water drain out, tilt your head to one side while gently pushing on your earlobe.
  • To help the water evaporate, add a few drops of rubbing alcohol, a rubbing alcohol and vinegar solution, or hydrogen peroxide to the ear.
  • The eustachian tubes can be opened by chewing or yawning, which will allow the water to exit your ears.
  • The Eustachian tubes can also be opened using steam. For five to ten minutes, place your face over a bowl of hot water with a towel covering your head. Inhale the steam.

Make an appointment to see a doctor so they can clean out your ears and prescribe any necessary treatments if the procedures on the above list don’t work. An expert in hearing care can accurately assess the source of your hearing loss and, if necessary, recommend the best hearing aids if you are experiencing hearing problems.

Don’t be afraid of the water If you take the necessary precautions, swimming can still be a secure pastime. You can reduce your risk of getting an infection that might cause hearing loss by being more aware of where you swim, wearing the right ear protection, and knowing what to do if water gets in your ears.