Friday, June 20, 2014

What To Do With Swimmer's Ear

Being a swim-mom means regularly spending entire weekends by the pool-side cheering your kids on ... the whole day! Did I mention call time is at 7am? Such a crazy and tiring schedule it is!:)

I was happy with how my Li'l Man performed in almost all his events, particularly his 100-meter breaststroke and 100-meter butterfly.  I am happy that with constant encouragement and prayers, his confidence about his performance in the pool is slowly building.  Of course, we continue to always pray for him and we trust in Philippians 1:6  being confident that He who began a good work in him will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

We are thankful that he is slowly turning from being anxious into someone who is God-confident; that is, he is confident in himself because he knows that he can do ALL things through Christ who is within him.  Click here to read how it all started.
The li'l men of Team Buccaneers are all smiles after winning the gold in their 200-meter freestyle relay.

Just days after we celebrated his good swim, we have been busy making the rounds of doctor's clinics because my son developed an ear infection. The fact that my kids are training in the pool 6 times a week, on the average, place them at greater risk for swimmer's ear. But what is swimmers ear?

It is an infection which affects the outer ear canal. As it mainly affects swimmers it is known as the swimmers ear. It is caused when water gets accumulated in the ear canal and leads to an infection. This infection causes swelling, redness and pain. It is a good thing that my son's case is not that bad, and he only complains of a slight ache when he tugs on his ear.

I found out that even if the pool water in our club gets treated with chlorine regularly, it is still no assurance that there are no bacteria present. The bacteria in the pool water may accumulate in the ear canal, and the moist environment of the ear may in turn cause the ear to be prone to an infection.

Since my kids all suffer from skin eczema, their chances of having swimmers ear are even greatly increased. Because eczema also affect the skin inside their ears, they are prone to absent-mindedly scratching that part as well, leading to chapped skin.  Chlorine is very drying, so I always remind them that if the skin in their outer ear  canal gets itchy, they should just massage with VCO (Virgin Coconut Oil).  Dry, itchy and cracked skin is an infection waiting to happen talaga.

Even if I suspected it was swimmers ear, I had to bring him to our pedia for a conclusive diagnosis.  He was prescribed Synalar Otic an OTC antibiotic to treat ear infections.

For good measure I finally stopped procrastinating, and proceeded to have them measured for a custom fitted ear plugs at Manila Hearing Aid. The swimmers ear plugs are sold for P1,500 a piece, P3,000 for one pair. You can compute how much it costs me for the kids.  Certainly quite a big investment.  But I figured I'd rather invest in preventive health, rather than spend the same amount of money for accumulated doctor's visit and medicine.

The photos below show how the mold was made.  The second photo shows how the finished ear plug looks like.  These plugs are made specially for swimmers and offer superior water protection and comfortable fit that will not shrink or harden.  They also are less prone to get lost because even if my kids drop them during training, these earpieces are floatable and in a bright color so it will be located easily.

If your kids are competitive swimmers like mine, or if they just simply love playing in the pool, I have asked my doctor for ways to prevent the frequency and severity of ear infections:

  1. Once diagnosed with swimmers ear, you should avoid getting the ear wet. Use an alternative training option if your child is concerned about maintaining his endurance.  
  2. Finish the entire course of antibiotics. Stopping antibiotics too soon is like giving the bacteria an extra dose of vitamins, which can result in drug-resistant super bacteria. Your infection might not just come back, but could be even harder to treat. 
  3. Use earplugs made specifically for swimming and carefully dry the external ear after swimming.  Just make sure to get ear plugs that fit properly and are intended for swimming, and do not just use ear plugs that just keep the noise out.
  4. A mixture of part white vinegar with equal part clean water can make the environment of the ear slightly acidic to discourage the growth of the bacteria.
  5.  A few drops of rubbing alcohol can also be used, but since my kids suffer from eczema, alcohol will just dry out the skin too much, causing the skin inside the ear canal to get chapped which can just increase their chances of getting another infection.  

I am not a medical practitioner, so if you suspect you or your kids suffer from swimmers ear, go to your doctor for a conclusive diagnosis.  As for me, I am hoping that the swimmers ear plug will finally stop our problems with ear infection.

Manila Hearing Aid
Grnd Flr. Integrated Building ( Beside B.P.I.)
14 Quezon Avenue, Quezon City
Tel No. : 02- 7123630 & 7123623