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 the last days of summer. If your Labor Day weekend plans include going swimming, you should know how to deal with swimmer’s ear.

Swimmer’s ear is an infection of the outer ear caused when water is trapped inside the ear, where bacteria can grow. Dr. Peter Roland, chairman of otolaryngology at
UT Southwestern Medical Center, says to prevent swimmer’s ear, you should keep water out of the ears using ear plugs, or gently dry the ears with a hair dryer after swimming. You should also avoid swimming in polluted water. To treat swimmer’s ear, you should use antiseptic or antibiotic ear drops. That will kill the bacteria and usually eases the pain in about a day. Doctors recommend that oral antibiotics only be used in certain situations, such as in patients with diabetes or weakened immune systems, or if drops don’t clear up the infection.

Visit to learn more about
UT Southwestern’s clinical services in ear, nose and throat (otolaryngology).


August 2008

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