Frequently, the term “ear infection” is used interchangeably to describe really 2 or 3 different problems. The ear is divided into 3 parts: outer, middle, and inner ear. Each part has a distinct function, and an infection in one part means something very different compared to the others. An infection in the outer ear is commonly called swimmer’s ear, but really can occur for many different reasons. The ear canal is a dark, warm, moist place. This makes it the perfect breeding ground for infection when water or moisture of any kind become trapped. In the middle ear, there is no evidence to suggest swimming causes, or places children at higher risk for ear infections. A middle ear infection, usually has swelling in the middle ear space, behind the eardrum, which causes the eardrum to become red and allows for fluid to collect behind the eardrum. Inner ear infections are rare, they can cause hearing loss, dizziness and imbalance. Generally, children with inner ear infections are very ill. So, as you go swimming this year and consider enrolling your little one in swim classes, don’t worry about the risk of getting an ear infection, but do recognize the symptoms of otitis externa, ask your doctor if you are concerned, and have a great time! *if your child is prone to ear infections or has tubes, please ask to your deck supervisor for information on pre/post treatments available for little one’s sensitive ears!
You may speak with a deck supervisor or a pediatrician about ways to remove the water from ears after swim lessons, showers, and baths.