As more people head to the pool and ocean to cool off from the hot weather, doctors know to expect a wave of patients with swimmer’s ear.
In fact, people living in the South have the highest regional rate of swimmer’s ear because of the humidity here. When water stays in the ear canal too long, germs can grow and infect the skin, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Forty-four percent of swimmer’s ear cases occur from June to August, during peak swimming season. Although many people perceive swimmer’s ear as a minor infection, federal officials said, it sends 2.4 million people to the doctor annually for a total of $500 million in health care costs.
“By taking simple steps before and after swimming or coming in contact with water, people can greatly reduce their risk of this painful infection,” said Michael Beach, CDC’s associate director for healthy water.
Recommendations from the CDC include:
- Keep your ears as dry as possible when you are around water.
- Always dry your ears after swimming or taking a shower.
- Avoid putting objects inside your ear canal or removing ear wax yourself. This can damage skin and increase infection risks.
- Ask your doctor for advice about alcohol-based ear drops to be used after swimming.
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