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EarPain after Swimming

In themajority of cases of pain in the inner ear after swimming, the mainculprit is fungus and bacteria that have intruded into the ear canalvia the water. The reason this happens is because, while swimming, asmall amount of water can become stuck inside the ear for daysafterwards. Since most fungi and bacteria breed easily in warm, moistareas of the body, this creates a very stimulating environment forthem.

Thebacteria and fungi that commonly infect the ear in this way aretypically found in polluted water in natural locations. However, thechlorine in man-made swimming pools can also increase the risk ofinfection.

Aninfected ear will become painful and the external ear itself mayswell slightly and become redder in colour. The person may also losesome hearing in the affected ear. Ear infections are occasionallyaccompanied by fever and cause a sore throat if the infectionspreads.

Preventionand Treatment

Toprevent the ear from becoming infected, one simple solution is tokeep the ear as dry as possible and try to remove any water from theear after swimming. However, do not push ear cleaning tools into theear too far, as this may damage the sensitive tissues or may evenpuncture the delicate membrane within. Similarly, never use any sharpimplement to clean inside the ear.

If thewater in the ear proves difficult to remove, try putting a couple ofalcohol-based ear drops in both ears after swimming. White vinegar,alcohol or any combination of the two can also be used. However, donot do this if there is already an ear infection in place, as thiscan increase the pain. Alternatively, ear plugs can be used to keepout water, although they cannot help with the existing ear pain very much.Also, avoid swimming in particularly dirty or polluted water in thefirst place.

Incases of an existing ear infection, a medical professional will bethe quickest source of relief. Many prescribed medications canalleviate ear infections in just a few days. If the pain elevates tounbearable levels or if a severe fever develops as a result, a doctorconsultation is strongly recommended.

Afterthe ear infection has receded, avoid swimming for seven to ten daysafterwards to allow the bacteria or fungus to be fully eliminated andto prevent the infection from recurring.

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