Don't Let Ear Infections Hamper Summer Fun

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Don't Let Ear Infections Hamper Summer Fun

Ocean Medical Center Specialist Offers Tips to Prevent Swimmer's Ear

The summer months bring seasonal activities that children enjoy such as swimming in the ocean and the pool. While these activities are great exercise and a fun way to enjoy the weather, parents should know how to protect their children against otitis externa, also called swimmer's ear.

According to Charles Geneslaw, M.D., chairman of Pediatrics at Ocean Medical Center, swimmer's ear is an inflammation of the external ear canal and is caused by fungi or bacteria that grow from water trapped inside the ear canal. "Any infection to the ear should be taken seriously and not ignored," notes Dr. Geneslaw. "Ear infections that are left untreated can have serious side effects, such as hearing loss or severe pain."

While excessive wetness is the most common cause of swimmer's ear, other causes include being in warm humid places, harsh cleansing of the ear canal, trauma to the ear canal, dry ear canal skin, a foreign body in the ear canal, lack of ear wax, and eczema or other forms of dermatitis. Dr. Geneslaw advises parents to be watchful for the following symptoms which may be an indication of swimmer's ear:

  • Redness of the outer ear
  • Itching in the ear
  • Pain, especially when touching or wiggling the ear lobe
  • Drainage from the ear
  • Swollen glands in the neck
  • Swollen ear canal
  • Conductive hearing loss (muffled hearing)

To help prevent swimmer's ear if your child does not have ear tubes or ear drum perforation, place two to three drops of a mixture of vinegar/isopropyl alcohol/water into your child's ear after the ears come in contact with water (after your child is finished swimming for the day), and gently clean and dry your child's ear canal. If you suspect that your child may have an ear infection, you should contact your pediatrician or family doctor for an accurate diagnosis and to determine if medication may be necessary to clear the infection.

For more information about children's health topics, as well as a full selection of adult topics, visit the Health Library at

Ocean Medical Center, a member of the Meridian Health family, is a 281-bed non-profit community hospital located in Brick New Jersey, providing health care programs and services in all major medical disciplines, including maternity; oncology; orthopedics and rehabilitation; general, neurological, thoracic, and vascular surgery; cardiology; dialysis; and emergency and critical care services. The Medical Center features Magnet award winning nurses and is a proud affiliate of University of Pennsylvania Cancer Network. Ocean Medical Center also operates the state's first Satellite Emergency Department in Point Pleasant, called the Ocean Care Center. For more information, call the Meridian Health Line at 1-800-560-9990 or log on to our web site at