Pool Time! Avoid Swimmer’s Ear with These Tips

It’s summer time, and for most of us, that means we will spend some hot days in the pool. Pool time is a lot of fun, but it also comes with the risk of swimmer’s ear. Swimmer’s ear is a type of ear infection, caused by bacteria that breeds in the ear canal when moisture is trapped there. Here are some ways to make sure you prevent this painful infection.

Keep it Dry

Keeping your ears dry and clean, especially after swimming, is a sure-fire way to prevent swimmer’s ear, because the bacteria need moisture to thrive. Thoroughly dry your ears out after swimming. You can use a hair dryer on the cool setting if you think tilting your head and using a towel isn’t cutting it. While some people use rubbing alcohol to help speed up the process, doing this too often can actually cause more infection in the long run.

Plug them Up

Wearing ear plugs while swimming can prevent moisture from getting trapped in your ears in the first place. You can find swimming ear plugs at some stores or at your audiologist’s office. Be sure to get well-fitting ear plugs designed for swimming.

Ear Drops to the Rescue

Ear drops can also be used after swimming to facilitate drying out the ear canal. Some favorite liquids to use are rubbing alcohol, olive oil, hydrogen peroxide and white vinegar. Rubbing alcohol can cause excessive dryness with repeated use and hydrogen peroxide can also kill beneficial bacteria in your ear, so use those two sparingly. If your ears are clogged with excessive earwax, ear drops will not be effective. Also, never use ear drops if you have a synthetic ear tubes or a ruptured ear drum.

Ear Wax basics

Too much or too little ear wax can also cause a problem because ear wax is important for maintaining ear health and preventing infections.

Read more about how to clean and maintain ear wax here:

https://www.verywell.com/all-about-ear-wax-blockage-1192040

Keep Your Skin Healthy

Healthy skin in and around your ears contributes to ear health and prevents infection. If the skin in your ears is too try or cracked, the environment can promote infection. If you have dry, flaky skin in or around your ears, try these tips:

  • Keep your ears dry
  • Don’t scratch or cut your ears in any way
  • Don’t use Q-tips or other objects inserted in the ear. These can damage the skin.
  • Don’t clean your ears forcefully. Be gentle with any cleaning, and if you have excessive ear wax, see a doctor for cleaning.

If you keep in mind all of these preventative tips, your risk of any infection, including swimmer’s ear, is reduced. As always, regular check-ups with your audiologist is key to maintaining ear health.

Drop by at 88 N San Mateo Dr. San Mateo, CA 94401  (650) 342-9449

Gene Therapy May be the Answer to Hearing Loss

One billion people throughout the world are at risk of experiencing hearing loss at some point in their lives. Scientists have therefore been working to find solutions to this growing problem. Hearing aids and cochlear implants have seen rapid improvements and advances in technology, but they still merely mimic the hearing process, and don’t cure it. Complaints such as tinny or robotic-sounding voices and diminished enjoyment of music are urging another way to restore hearing.

Progressive hearing loss is most often caused by the loss of hair cells in the inner ear that allow us to detect sound. Some bird and fish species are able to re-grow these cells, but humans cannot. It then follows that if humans could regrow these hair cells, hearing could be restored naturally.

Novartis, a Swedish pharmaceutical company, recently sponsored a set of clinical trials to test an inner-ear hair cell regrowth technique on human subjects. When conducting preliminary trials on mice, researchers were successful in restoring partial hearing. The trials are still ongoing, but the eight participants have already begun noticing improvement in their hearing abilities.

Atoh1 is the gene that triggers hair cell growth in the inner ear. Scientists have focused on this gene, which is “turned off” after the cells finish growing, even before birth. Scientists hope to use gene manipulation to “turn back on” these genes and promote this hair cell growth once again. They implant the gene into a cold virus and implant it into the eardrum using a laser and syringe.

Though participants have seen some improvement in hearing, total restoration has proven elusive. Scientists hope that this method may provide enough improvement that patients can then use hearing aids to further improve speech comprehension and other hearing abilities.

Scientists are also working to identify other genes that also play a role in this cell growth progression, and hope that eventually they may develop more advanced techniques for hearing restoration. Whereas this procedure is aimed at hearing loss caused by very loud sounds or drug toxicity, there is more research underway to find treatments for genetic hearing loss as well.

The approach is to introduce a DNA sequence that will help a “broken” gene to work again. Malfunctioning sensory cells are responsible for the hearing loss, and it is hoped that those cells can be made functional again.

This exciting new field of research may soon be able to reverse hearing damage and loss, but until then, prevention is key. Come in for a hearing test today and learn the best ways to protect your hearing health.