Summer is the right moment to enjoy outdoor activities and appreciate the good weather.
While delighting in swimming and lying on the beach, our ears strongly suffer from the humidity accumulated in the auditory tubes. This may lead to the appearance of external otitis, also known as swimmers ear.
In a study evaluating the risk of infection in seawaters declared as non-polluted and authorized for swimming, it was found that risk of infections was quite high in young population and elderly. The risk of respiratory infections was 4.5 times higher in bathers as compared to non-bathers. (1)
Otitis externa occurs in the ear canal and is usually caused by bacteria or fungi. The most common bacteria responsible for this infection are Pseudomonas aeruginosa (20 to 60% prevalence) followed by Staphylococcus aureus (10% to 70% prevalence) frequently occurring as a polymicrobial infection. (2, 3)
In general terms, children are more prone to suffer from otitis because their auditory tubes are shorter and therefore the bacteria can reach the middle ear quickly.
- Swelling of the ear canal
- Itchiness and redness in ear canal
- Pus or liquid drainage
How to escape from this condition? Taking measures such as immediately drying the ears after the bath is essential to avoid the accumulation of wax. Also, wearing bathing caps that cover the ears or using ear plugs will prevent the entrance of water to the auditory canal. (4)
- Jay M Fleisher, Lora E Fleming, Helena M Solo-Gabriel,Jonathan K Kish, Christopher D Sinigalliano, Lisa Plano,Samir M Elmir, John D Wang, Kelly Withum,Tomoyuki Shibata, Maribeth L Gidle, Amir Abdelzaher,Guoqing He, Cristina Ortega, Xiaofang Zhu, Mary Wright,Julie Hollenbeck, Lorraine C Backer
International Journal of Epidemiology, 2010
- I.A. Van Asperen, C.M. de Rover, J.F. Schijven, S.B. Oetomo, J.F. Schellekens, N.J. van Leeuwen, C. Collé, A.H. Havelaar, D. Kromhout, M.W.J. Sprenger. Risk of otitis externa after swimming in recreational fresh water lakes containing Pseudomonas aeruginosa. British Medical Journal, 311 (1995), pp. 1407-1410.
- Rosenfeld RM. et al, Clinical practice guideline: Acute otitis externa. Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery (2006) 134, S4-S23
- Wipperman Jennifer. Otitis Externa. Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice. March 2014 ; Vol 41, Issue 1, PP 1-9