Protect Your Ears This Summer

One way to take the fun out of the summer is having a bout with an ear infection (or double the fun with both ears aflame). Any place where you can take a dip—the backyard pool, the municipal facility, the lake or ocean, a river or creek—can harbor bacteria that can get into your ear canal and cause the inflammation and irritation commonly known as swimmer’s ear.

The best option to avoid this common summer annoyance—especially if swimming is a big part of your routine—is to invest in a pair of swimming earplugs. They will keep the germs at bay.

There are a wide variety of off-the-shelf options available, while more serious protection custom-fitted models—which are molded to the contours of your very own ear canals—are an option that your hearing health professional can provide.

Anyone who’s planning to spend time in the water should consider using earplugs. This is especially true for kids who have a history of ear infections or who are currently using ear tubes to treat chronic issues. The same holds true for adults.

And though most modern hearing aids are designed to resist moisture, few are actually fully waterproof. That means you should take them out when going for a dip. Of course, taking hearing aids in and out is one way to create abrasions on the skin of the ear canal—another is inserting a Q-tip in your ear—which makes you more susceptible to come down with a case of swimmer’s ear. So, using swimming earplugs is an even better idea for anyone who uses hearing aids.

If time in the water—which is probably dirtier than you might think—is part of your summer plans, then seriously consider making swimming earplugs part of your seasonal gear.