How to Protect Your Hearing at the Pool

Did you know there are 92 days in the summer season? That means three months of longer days, warmer nights and, usually, plenty of swimming to cool off on hot days. Especially for the kids. While your first thought to prepare may be to protect the skin by applying sunscreen, it’s also important not to forget to protect the ears. That refreshing pool, lake or ocean water may be a fun and a welcome break from the heat, but it can do a number on your kids’ (and your) ears when it gets in but doesn’t make it back out. Be prepared with the right protection to help prevent ear and hearing problems this summer.
Swimmer’s Ear
One of the most common conditions associated with water in the ear is called swimmer’s ear. This condition is an infection of the outer ear canal often by water that enters and sits in the ear after swimming. This warm and moist environment creates a perfect place for bacteria to grow. It may seem like a minor ailment, but the CDC estimates that swimmer’s ear leads to about 2.4 million doctor visits each year and is responsible for nearly $500 million in annual health care costs. Bacteria in pools and similar places are believed to be the most common cause of these infections.
Signs of a swimmer’s ear infection include:

  • Itching in the ear canal
  • Redness in the ear
  • Discomfort in the ear
  • Some drainage of clear, odorless fluid

Without treatment, these symptoms can become more severe and the infection much more uncomfortable. Especially for children.
Prevent swimmer’s ear with swim ear plugs
One of the best ways to prevent infections like swimmer’s ear is to use specially designed swim earplugs. This is especially important for kids that are prone to recurring ear infections. Swim earplugs are fitted earplugs that can help seal the opening of the ear and prevent water from getting in. There are two main types of swim earplugs that can help you and your kids avoid ear infections.
As the name implies, these earplugs are custom-fitted to each individual’s ear for maximum protection against water. While they are often a more significant investment, when you look beyond the price tag, they are more than worth the cost. Custom swim earplugs not only tend to last longer but because a hearing healthcare professional fits them, they are more comfortable while offering exceptional protection. These swim earplugs are also washable and reusable allowing them to be used again and again hygienically.
As with over the counter hearing aids, one-size-fits-all swim earplugs offer a more economical alternative. There are trade-offs to consider, though. While they do provide protection, one-size-fits-all swim earplugs are not custom-molded to the individual’s ear so may not be as comfortable or effective. Available for purchase at many retailers, one-size-fits-all swim earplugs may have a shorter life but are easily replaceable as needed.
How to choose the best swim ear plugs for my child?
There are many things to consider when choosing swim ear plugs for your child to protect their ears. Every child and family is different. While cost may be a concern, do look at all the variables before making an investment. How much does your child swim? Occasionally or regularly? Is comfort a priority? Are they prone to infections and require a higher level of protection? Do you prefer single-use options over maintaining swim earplugs?
Discuss your unique situation with your hearing healthcare provider to help determine the best swim ear plug options for your child. Our office can help with information and options. There’s still plenty of summer left to enjoy. Don’t waste a minute of it on ear infections!


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