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Tony asked...

I have picked up an ear infection the last 3 times I have been away on holiday...

Hi I have picked up an ear infection the last 3 times I have been away on holiday. Never had one in my life before this although I used to swim a lot. I tried to keep my head from going under the water on my last holiday but still got an infection. Is there anything I can do as I am thinking of taking up swimming again as an exercise but am worried. Regards

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The answer

Swimmer’s ear is an infection of the outer ear caused when contaminated water sits in the ear for prolonged periods of time. This can be a common infection and quite painful, but can be prevented. Inner ear infection can be more serious and often requires antibiotics. There are a few things you can do to reduce the risk of ear infection when swimming. Firstly ensure you get all the water out of your ears after swimming and ensure the skin is dry in the ear canal, this must be done gently so as not to irritate the skin. Maintain good ear wax hygiene, too much and too little ear wax can cause problems and your ear wax naturally repels water. Use of pliable ear plugs can help when swimming but should not be worn for long periods of time. Use of a swimming cap can also help. Good skin care is recommended, you need to treat dry or cracked skin in and around the ear canal before this can become an issue. If ear infections are becoming an issue for you we would suggest talking to your GP and referral to an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist if needed.

Hopefully this will help you,

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses