Health Watch -- End of Summer: Swimmer's Ear

Health Watch is a public service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

This week on Health Watch, we're talking about summer activities you may still be enjoying as Labor Day weekend approaches. While swimming is a lot of fun and good exercise, one possible side effect is swimmer's ear. That's an infection of the outer ear canal that occurs when water gets trapped in the ear, creating a breeding ground for bacteria.

Dr. Peter Roland, chairman of otolaryngology at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, was recently part of a panel that issued new treatment guidelines for swimmer's ear. The first line of treatment should be antiseptic or antibiotic ear drops. Oral antibiotics should only be used if there's another condition involved. Swimmer's ear can be prevented by keeping water out of the ear with ear plugs or by using a hair dryer to dry water from of the ears. Don't use swabs or other objects to clean out the ear canals.


August 2006

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