Swimmer’s ear: What it is and how to prevent it Lindquist suffers from chronic ear infections by Natalie Hardiman
Waterlogged ears is a problem that comes with swimming, but this irritation can turn into a major problem for swimmers and even prevent them from training. Otitis Externa, or swimmer’s ear, is an infection in the outer ear canal caused by water trapped in the ear for a prolonged period of time, attracting bacteria and, occasionally, fungi. As the bacteria grows, it causes extemded pain and can affect the person’s hearing. Swim coach Mark Rubke has seen cases
of swimmer’s ear over the years, but believes that it is not a pressing issue. “[Swimmer’s ear] is not widespread by any means, but very often there is only a single individual with it. Sometimes, there are seasons where swimmer’s ear never shows up at all,” he said. Swimmer’s ear did show up in the past water polo season, however. “It was a horrible pain, like being pierced by a needle,” freshman Spencer MaloneWhite said. In effort to prevent this pain, swimmers sometimes use earplugs while swimming or, in Malone-White’s case, use ear drops after practice to clear up any trapped water. “I think swimmers have had mixed experiences with [ear plugs and ear drops]. Some people have good results, but others still get swimmer’s ear,” he said. If the ear does become infected, swimmers, often take pain pills or doctor-prescribed medication. In severe cases of swim-
PHOTO BY ALIDA NEWSON
Caution: Wet. 1. Senior Nick Johnson wears HEAROS ear plugs to prevent Swimmer’s ear. 2. “I’m wearing them more often so I can prevent Swimmer’s Ear, because if you get it then it hurts your swim career,” Johnson said.
2. PHOTO BY CLAIRE TISIUS
FACT or FICTION?
mer’s ear, the athlete might have to stop training until the infection clears up. “I think it’s the doctor’s opinion if the swimmer can continue to train,” Rubke said, “I do not know if it is dangerous to keep swimming, but whatever the doctor decides for the student that is generally what we follow.” Malone-White was one of the students who had to stop training, but only for a week. “I felt frustrated, because I wanted to play and help our team win,” Malone-White said. Malone-White followed his doctor’s orders to stay out of the pool, but according to Rubke, sometimes swimmers just assume that their ear pain is due to swimmer’s ear without ever getting it checked. “If swimmers have ear pain, I think it is really important that they do not dismiss it,” Rubke said. “They should get it looked at to make sure they are not having some sort of allergic reaction or that something is not lodged in the ear because it may not be swimmer’s ear.” Symptoms of swimmer’s ear include the ear leaking pus, turning red, becoming swollen, and itchiness, but for Malone-White, this infection did not bother him a lot. “I was mad about having to stop playing [water polo] because it’s fun to play. It was my first year and I wanted to get experience, but swimmer’s ear was not awful, only uncomfortable,” Malone-White said.
Rumors about the ear and whether or not they’re true.
compiled by Shelby Salerno
FACT: Loud noises affect your hear-
FACT: Ear buds/earplugs cause
Exposure to a loud noise (such as an instrument, concerts, airplanes) over a relatively constant and long period of time will negatively affect a person’s hearing especially if he/she does not wear earplugs in the clamorous environment. But the quiet and cautious humans are not off the hook. Being exposed to loud noises in short bursts over a long period of time can also cause hearing loss.
Has anyone ever thought about where his or her ear buds have been? Well, they drag across dirt, sit on grease, fall into multiple hands, roll in bacteria, and then sit snug in someone’s earwax. So yes, despite the lack of stories heard about people getting infections, ear buds can cause infections in the ear if the ear and/or the bud is unclean. This is because viruses and bacteria can enter the ear and then infect the area.
FACT: Headphones cause deafness at FACT: Ringing in your ear is a sign
an early age.
Society today has been listening to their music through headphones, not realizing that the volume in which they crank up their tunes matches that of a rock concert. When people are exposed to rock concerts enough, hearing loss is eminent. Therefore, ear buds have caused a decrease in hearing in young people, when in past years it had occurred mostly in people over the age of forty.
The shrill ringing that one hears in his or her ears does not, in fact, always mean that the person is suffering from hearing loss. It is called Tinnitus, and in brief occurrences, the sound is relatively harmless. But if the ringing occurs for a long period of time, see a doctor because hearing loss is most likely occurring because the little hairs in the ear are probably being permanently damaged.
by Kayla Nicholls
An unbearable pain overwhelms her and her hearing is slowly lost. Another chronic ear infection has begun. Freshman Danielle Lindquist has had chronic ear infections since she was young. “I had them really badly when I was three and four, but I still get them occasionally. A more recent one was in seventh grade,” Lindquist said. The worst ear infection she has had was while on vacation in Hawaii. “One I remember was in Hawaii, and I came down with a really bad ear infection. I had this pain in my ear all the time. It was really dry- scaly almost,” said Lindquist. “Disgusting but true.” After almost three days of complaining, she was taken to the doctors office. “They would always say it was a really terrible ear infection and gave me ear drops, antibiotics or a combination of both. It would clear up in two weeks,” Lindquist said. According to Lindquist, shortly after getting her ears healed, the infections would always come back. “I would always get them, start sobbing, go to the doctors and heal them. It was like a cycle, they kept coming back,” Lindquist said. In addition to ear infections, colds and fevers often accompanied the pain. “I usually had a cold or a fever that made me really sick. It was a really dry ear too, and sometimes I couldn’t even hear out of it,” Lindquist said. Her mother, Janet Lindquist, says that her ear infections were reoccurring. “After she got sick, she would always get an ear infection. [My ear would get] really severe and we always had to take her to the doctor,” Janet said. The infections were in both ears. “They like to switch off. I had double ear infections as a baby, where I couldn’t hear out of either ear,” Lindquist said. The “severity” of her ear infections was noticeable at the doctor’s office. “They used to pull out huge globs of mucus,” Janet said. Eventually the doctors wanted to put tubes in her ears. “When I was three years old, the doctors wanted to put tubes in my ears to prevent infections. They wanted to put a three year old under for actual surgery,” Lindquist said. “We didn’t do it, but that was how bad my ear infections were.” As Lindquist has grown older, her ear infections have lessened. “Luckily she grew out of them,” Janet said. “But when she was younger, they were very severe, and they were reoccurring.”
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