|Ear - Swimmer's|
|When to Call Your Doctor|
|Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If|
|Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If|
|Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If|
|Parent Care at Home If|
|Causes & Health Information|
- Starts with an itchy ear canal
- Ear canal can become painful
- Pain gets worse when the ear is moved up and down
- The ear feels plugged or full
- Ear discharge may start as the swimmer’s ear gets worse
- No cold symptoms or fever
- When water gets trapped in the ear canal, the lining becomes wet and swollen.
- This makes it prone to an infection with germs (swimmer's ear).
- Wax buildup also traps water behind it. Most often, this is caused by cotton swabs.
- Ear canals were meant to be dry.
Return to School
- Swimmer's ear cannot be spread to others. No need to miss any school or child care.
|CARE ADVICE FOR MILD SWIMMER'S EAR|
- What You Should Know:
- Swimmer's ear is a mild infection of the ear canal.
- It's caused by water getting trapped in the ear canal. Ear canals were meant to be dry.
- Here is some care advice that should help.
- White Vinegar Rinses:
- Rinse the ear canals with half-strength white vinegar. Mix vinegar with equal parts warm water. (Exception: ear tubes or hole in eardrum.)
- Start by having your child lie down with the painful ear upward.
- Fill the ear canal.
- Wait 5 minutes. Then, turn your child's head to the side and move the ear. This will remove the vinegar rinse.
- Do the other side.
- Continue twice a day until the ear canal returns to normal.
- Reason: Restores the normal acid pH of the ear canal and lessens swelling.
- Pain Medicine:
- To help with the pain, give acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen. Use as needed. See Dose Table.
- Heat Pack:
- If pain is moderate to severe, use a heating pad (set on low). You can also use a warm wet cloth to outer ear. Do this for 20 minutes. (Caution: Avoid burns). This will also increase drainage.
- Reduce Swimming Times:
- Try not to swim until symptoms are gone.
- If on a swim team, it's usually okay to continue.
- Swimming may slow your child's recovery, but causes no serious harm.
- Return to School:
- Swimmer's ear cannot be spread to others.
- What to Expect:
- With treatment, symptoms should be better in 3 days.
- They should be gone in 7 days.
- Prevention of Symptoms:
- Try to keep the ear canals dry.
- After showers, hair washing, or swimming, help the water run out of ears. Do this by turning the head.
- Do not use cotton swabs. Reason: Packs in the earwax. The wax buildup then traps water behind it.
- If swimmer's ear is a frequent problem, rinse the ear canals after swimming. Use a few drops of a white vinegar-rubbing alcohol rinse. Use equal parts of each to make the rinse.
- Call Your Doctor If:
- Ear pain becomes severe
- Ear symptoms last over 7 days on treatment
- Your child becomes worse
And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.
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Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
Last Reviewed: 9/1/2012
Last Revised: 1/13/2013
Content Set: Child Symptom Checker
Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.