CONTACT: Beth Kaplan, (608) 267-3810
BE WARY OF SWIMMER'S EAR
May 23-29 is Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention Week
MADISONState health officials are stressing the prevention of recreational water illnesses, such as swimmer’s ear, during this year’s Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention Week.
“Contaminated water poses a major health risk,” said Dr. Henry Anderson, State Health Officer. “Swallowing, breathing or having contact with contaminated water from swimming pools, spas, lakes and rivers can make you very ill.”
A common malady associated with water recreation is swimmer’s ear, an infection of the outer ear canal that can cause pain and discomfort for swimmers of all ages. “Swimmer’s ear affects millions of Americans every year and results in hundreds of millions of dollars in hospitalization costs,” Anderson said. “The good news is that swimmer’s ear is preventable.”
Swimmers should follow these guidelines to help prevent swimmer’s ear:
- Dry your ears thoroughly with a towel after swimming or
- Use a bathing cap, ear plugs, or custom-fitted swim molds when
- Tilt your head to hold each ear facing down to allow water to escape the ear canal. Pull your earlobe in different directions while the ear is faced down to help water drain out.
- If there is still water left in your ears, consider using a hair dryer to move air through the ear canal. Put the dryer on the lowest heat and speed/fan setting, holding it several inches from the ear.
- Don’t put objects in the ear canal (including cotton-tip swabs, pencils, paperclips or fingers).
- Don’t try to remove ear wax. Ear wax helps protect your ear canal from infection. If you think that the ear canal is blocked by ear wax, consult your healthcare provider.
- Consult your healthcare provider about using ear drops after swimming. Drops should not be used by people with ear tubes, damaged ear drums, outer ear infections, or ear drainage (pus or liquid coming from the ear).
- Consult your healthcare provider if you have ear pain, discomfort, or drainage from your ears.
For more information on recreational water illness prevention, visit
For information on safe boating, visit the DNR web site at:
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September 05, 2012