2 Simple Tips to Prevent Ear Discomfort after Swimming or Other Water Sports

What to do when water is in your ear

When we swim, we usually wear goggles to prevent eye irritation and conjunctivitis. Similarly, to avoid water entering your ears or ear inflammation, wearing waterproof earplugs would be the best solution. People often complain that it would be hard to hear when wearing earplugs, but if this was your excuse, you would have to find another one now. With the invention of newer earplugs, waterproof earplugs that do not affect your hearing are available on the market.

Wearing waterproof earplugs would be the best solution.

The most common cause for ear pain after swim is, in fact, not caused by irritation of water inside your ears, but due to ear canal injuries from picking your ears. The second most common cause is the expansion of clogged up earwax as they absorb excessive water. The swelling compresses the external auditory canal and results in pain in the ear. So next time, try not to clear your ears with cotton swab after swimming. You may feel uncomfortable having water inside your ears, but using a cotton swab might not only damage your ear canal, but also pushes normal secretion of your earwax further into your ear causing further ear pain. To avoid this, consult with a medical professional to clean up excessive ear wax before you swim.

There are usually main 2 reasons behind lost of hearing clarity after a swim: The first reason is when water enters your ear canal and gets trapped on the outside of the eardrums, thus affecting the sound conduction. The second reason is caused by the swelling earwax as it absorbs excessive water. If it is primarily caused by water inside the ear, you can try to perform the following actions: Lean your head towards the side of affected ear, and gently pull the bottom of your ear, then repeatedly hop while leaning to your side or repeatedly open and close your mouth. Alternatively, lie down on your side with the affected ear facing down.

If none of these can clear up the water, consult a medical professional to determine if there are earwax clogged up inside your ear. Avoid trying to clear up your ears with a swab, as our ear canals are not straight but swirled tubes. The use of swab may easily injures your ear canal before clearing up water deep inside your ear.

Avoid trying to clear up your ears with a swab

When you swim, because your eardrums can seal off the water, you will not get middle ear inflammation from water entering your ears. However, occasionally people still get middle ear inflammation after swimming, this is the result of the addition of chlorine and other disinfectant in most swimming pools. These additives enter our nose when we swim and cause inflammation of our nasal mucosa. If you try to clear your mucous by blowing your nose, the irritants may result in middle ear inflammation through the auditory tubes.

As a result, I would recommend patients with middle ear inflammation or sinusitis to avoid swimming until your symptoms have improved. For patients of rhinitis, post-nasal-drip, or who may experience stuffed or running nose after swimming to clean your nose through warm saline nasal irrigation.