From what you describe it sounds like you may have swimmer’s ear. This usually passes over a period of a few days but it is possible for infection to develop if the water/wax are not removed.
Use of cotton buds is not recommended as this can potentially push the wax and water further into your ear, as well as potentially perforating the eardrum. Instead try one or more of the following suggestions.
If these don’t help and symptoms persist, it would be advisable to seek the advice of a pharmacist.
If your symptoms get worse or you experience pain and fever or swelling this would indicate that the ear has become infected and you should arrange an appointment with a doctor at the earliest opportunity. This could be with a local doctor or, if you prefer to speak to a UK registered GP, you can do so via our Doctor at Hand service.
Available though our Active Plus retail site as single online GP appointments, Doctor at Hand gives you access to an extended (up to 20 minutes) GP consultation by video or by phone, from anywhere in the world, day or night. Appointments are available at short notice – usually within an hour of your preferred timeslot – and if you need a prescription it can be delivered to your door, at home or abroad. If there is infection present, antibiotics may be needed and it would be advisable to start treatment as soon as possible to calm the infection before your flight home.
It’s best to avoid flying if you have an ear or sinus infection. This is because the associated swelling of the ear canal interferes with the mechanism that equalises pressure between the inner and outer ear during take-off and landing (the feeling of your ears ‘popping’), which can, in some instances, cause the eardrum to burst.
Hopefully your blocked ears will clear up before you’re due to return to the UK, either by themselves, or with antibiotic treatment, if there is an infection present. However if there are still signs of a blockage, take a look at our article Blocked ears and flying for some tips you can try to make your trip home more comfortable. Finally, here are some recommendations regarding swimming/showering for the remainder of the holiday.
• Avoid water sports, swimming and scuba diving
• Try to avoid getting further water in your ears
• Try to empty ears of water immediately afterwards
• Consider using swimming ear plugs.
Wishing you all the best for the rest of your stay and a safe journey home.
Answered by the Health at Hand team.
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