Swimmer's ear (or otitis externa) is a fairly common condition in which the outer ear becomes infected. When water gets into the ear canal and isn't properly drained, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. What follows is itchiness, soreness, and inflamed tissue. In severe cases, the bacteria can cause a temporary loss of hearing or a buildup of pus in the canal.

The most distinguishing symptom, however, is an increase in pain when the ear is touched or pulled. And, while swimmer's ear is common among children, it is also frequently seen in adults who swim or dive, don't drain their ears after showers, or who stick sharp objects (like paperclips) into their ears. Swimmer's ear can go from mildly uncomfortable to extremely painful, depending on the severity of the infection.

If you frequently experience these ear aches, prevention is your best weapon. While swimming, diving, or showering you might use waterproof ear buds or tubes, to keep water from entering the ear. After you've dried off, you might apply an over the counter eardrop, like Swimmer'sEar or HydraGel. And above all, avoid cleaning or scratching your ears with bobby pins, paperclips, etc.

Eco says re swimmer's ear : Unfortunately, waterproof earplugs are not an option for snorkelers or scuba divers who must equalize the pressure in their inner ears with the surrounding water pressure.

How did I obtain this fantastical information, you ask! The answer: I am a long-time sufferer of this condition. It accompanies my frequent inner ear infections. But, as my doctor says, "Common problems happen commonly."

And sometimes I swim
even when I don’t want to
because of hearing my father
wending his way slowly
up to the roof of the Dos Mille
to exercise back and forth there
in that small cold pool.

Would that he could
but I can.

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