How to prevent and treat swimmer’s ear in children

(Associated Press)

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – For many families, summer is all about spending as much time as possible in the pool or lake, but if your kids are in the water a lot they may suffer with a common infection known as swimmer’s ear. It’s caused by too much moisture in the ear which can break down the skin in the canal allowing bacteria to penetrate.

Dr. Ryan Redman with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital says you don’t have to be a swimmer to get swimmer’s ear. Kids who spend a lot of time in the water are more likely to get it, but anything that causes a break in the skin of the ear canal can lead to an infection.

Signs and symptoms can include ear pain which gets worse when the outer part of the ear is pulled or pressed upon, ear pain when chewing, redness or swelling of the ear, and discharged from the ear canal.

To prevent swimmer’s ear, use ear drops after swimming (only in kids without tubes), dry ears completely with towel after swimming, and turn head from side to side to allow water to drain from ears. Never allow children to clean their own ears and never put objects into the child’s ear like cotton swabs.

Ear infections should be seen by a doctor. If left untreated, the ear pain will get worse and infection may spread.

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