ABC WFAA 8 – The Facts about Swimmer’s Ear

You may have heard of “swimmer’s ear,” but do you know exactly what it is, or how you can get it? Most people assume you can only get it while swimming in the pool, but it turns out, that’s only one of a handful of place that you can develop this. So, joining us now is Dr. Rajiv Pandit, an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist at Methodist Dallas Medical Center, and he’s here to offer some tips on how to
avoid swimmer’s ear and explain exactly what it is. So, thank you so much for joining us this afternoon. [Dr. Pandit]: Sure. [Newscaster]: So, as I mentioned before, most people assume you only get swimmer’s ear
in the pool, but it turns out there are a few other places where you can develop this condition, right? [Dr. Pandit]: Sure.
Any time you have a warm moist environment, you’re more susceptible to bacteria settling in your ear. So, in the summer, we see an increased risk of outer ear infections, or otherwise known as “swimmer’s ear.” Also in a pond or a lake, or if you scratch your ear. Um, any time you have water that stays in
your ear, you have an increased risk. [Newscaster]: Even the bathtub and the shower I think you said. [Dr. Pandit]: Even the bathtub, yes. And if you are a diabetic, or have
other medical problems, that also increases the risk. [Newscaster]: Wow, that must surprise a lot of people. So, you started to explain where, exactly,
this has an effect on you. And we’re talking about the ear, exactly, but what part? [Dr. Pandit]: Yes. So, it’s the outer ear. So, the ear canal. So, everything outside of the eardrum. Ear infections can be very painful, you can
have drainage, muffled hearing, and it’s a very uncomfortable sensation. [Newscaster]: I’m sure it is. I’m wondering if fever,
any of that. What some other symptoms may be that people may experience with swimmer’s ear? [Dr. Pandit]: Generally, not fever. The most common telling sign is pain and swelling. [Newscaster]: OK. [Dr. Pandit]: That throbbing sensation that something isn’t right. [Graphic on screen]: Symptoms of swimmer’ ear.
Source: Mayo Clinic * Itching in the era canal
* Slight redness
* Mild discomfort
* Drainage
* More advanced severe pain [Newscaster]: So, if you have it,
what’s the best way to treat it? So, if you have an ear infection,
you should see a doctor, because most often, an outer ear infection,
or swimmer’s ear, is a bacterial infection. And you may need antibiotics by mouth, or, what’s more effective is actually antibiotic ear drops. [Newscaster]: Oh, wow. So, you may start out taking pain killers
to help avoid the pain, but you really need to go see a specialist in that case. [Dr. Pandit]: Yes. [Newscaster]: After a few days, if you notice that the pain is not going away, that’s typically when you should . . . [Dr. Pandit]: Usually in 48 hours. [Newscaster]: 48 hours? Quickly, OK. [Dr. Pandit]: Yes, yes. [Newscaster]: So, now we know how to get it,
how to treat it. Are there any tips to help avoid it? [Dr. Pandit]: Yes. So, the best way to avoid swimmer’s ear
is to not go swimming, but that is not a popular choice, especially
in the summer. [Newscaster]: Exactly! [Dr. Pandit]: So, another option when you go swimming is to actually turn your head to the side, pull your ear back, and just shake it a little bit. And just do that on both sides to get all
the remaining water out. Another option, especially for frequent swimmers, is to mix white vinegar and rubbing alcohol,
half and half, about 2 or 3 drops in each ear
before and after swimming. That prevents ear infections. [Newscaster]: Oh, wow, cleans it out, I guess. [Dr. Pandit]: Yes, and it restores the pH, and it kills any bacteria that may be trying to survive
in your ear. [Newscaster]: And, what about ear plugs? Do those actually help? [Dr. Pandit]: Actually, ear plugs don’t really. We find they’re not effective because they retain moisture in the ear, and that increases the risk of any bacteria that might already be in there, spreading. [Newscaster]: All right. Well, Dr. Pandit, thank you so much for joining us and giving us a lot of tips that I think a lot of people weren’t aware about until we had this conversation. So, we really appreciate it. [Dr. Pandit]: Well, thank you

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