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Rebecca asked...

My daughter age 3 and a 1/2; has recently got a perforated eardrum and got put on antibiotics yesterday for it. She usually does swimming lessons on a weekly basis; but what is the advice for going in water with this ear damage etc? How long should we keep her out of it for? Thank you

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The Answer

Ear drum perforations in children can occur after a middle ear infection. The eardrum becomes red, swollen and painful with pressure build up resulting in a tear or small hole in the eardrum. Provided the infection is treated then this will usually heal without problems within 12 weeks. During this healing period it is probably best to avoid swimming.

Bathing and washing are a necessity but you should take care to prevent water away getting in the ear - although this is not always easy with a young child. Cotton wool plugging of the external ear canal with a small amount of vaseline can help protect water getting in but be careful not to push anything further down as this could result in further damage to the eardrum.

Silicone ear plugs can be used in older children and adults for swimming but are likely to be too large for a three year old. Try to prevent your child putting his/her head under water during the 3 month healing period as this is more likely to result in water getting into the ear.

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