Thursday, August 01, 2013
Swimmer's ear--what to do, what to do
Richard Rosenfeld, prof and chairman of otolaryngology at State Univ of NY's Downstate Medical Center, says 2.4 million Americans get this summer earache each year.
The symptoms are echoing, itching, or a clogged feeling in the ear. This is an inflammation of the skin in the ear canal due to water being trapped in there.
Twenty-percent of sufferers are in such pain, they need narcotics.
You usually get it from swimming, but can get it from showering or even sweating a lot. People with a lot of ear wax or eczema and those who wear hearing aids can be more prone.
If there is no pain--just annoying water caught in the inch-long canal--put about five drops of rubbing alcohol in the ear, using an eye dropper. (Don't do it if you have a hole in your eardrum or ear tubes.)
Or: Cup your ear with the palm of your hand and pump inward, while jumping on one leg with the offending ear toward the ground. This can create a pressure change and force the water out.
This doctor recommends doing something and not waiting it out. This can escalate. You can use prescription drops with an antibiotic or acetic acid and maybe a steroid. Or make your own drops of half isopropyl alcohol and vinegar.
Do not take a big whack of antibiotic pills! Most oral antibiotics don't kill the crud that causes swimmer's ear anyhow.