How to Prevent Ear Infections in the Summer

23 November, 2020
The best way to prevent ear infections in the summer is to carry out proper cleaning, after showering or activities in the pool, at sea, or in any water environment.

The combination of aquatic activities and high temperatures often increase the incidence of ear infections in the summer.

The hot climate and high humidity present in the atmosphere are breeding grounds for viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Bathing at the beach or in swimming pools, as well as a lack of proper hygiene practices, increase the chances of acquiring an ear infection.

Children are usually the most affected. After all, they don’t have well-formed criteria to carry out proper preventive actions. This is why it’s important to keep an eye on them.

Ear infections in the summer

According to the US National Library of Medicine, there are many microorganisms present in a normal ear that don’t usually cause health problems. In other words, they coexist with the auditory canal.

However, the combination of higher temperatures and humidity is what breaks the balance.

A woman after swimming.
Ear infections increase during the summer. The humidity, added to the increase in temperature, facilitates the growth of infectious microorganisms.

The pH of the ear changes when there’s high humidity for a significant period of time. This is the breeding ground for fungus and bacteria. In the end, this is the main factor for an ear infection.

Furthermore, as a study published by the Journal of the Chinese Medical Association (JCMA) details, the chemical elements used for maintaining swimming pools also increase the risk of infections.

Saltwater from the sea, as well as other components that may be present in it, increase the risk as well, and so does the bacteria present in lakes and rivers.

Read also Tips on How to Relieve an Ear Infection in Babies and Children

Symptoms of infection

The specialists at the Camilo Cienfuegos at the Hospital Universitario in Sancti Spíritus explain that suppuration is the most characteristic symptom of an ear infection. A yellowish, serous fluid comes out and it turns green when the bacteria count is high.

The other common symptom is pain characterized by heat, swelling, and redness in the ear or behind it. The discomfort may not be constant but pain while applying pressure to the ear is often a sign of infection.

There’s more pain when the infection is of bacterial origin. Similarly, there’s itching when it’s fungal. In fact, one of the most common signs of discomfort in small children is they constantly play about with their ears.

Preventing ear infections

According to experts in the area of children’s health, the main measures to prevent ear infections in the summer are:

  • Using waterproof earplugs. These are particularly helpful for those who’ve experienced ear infections in the past. However, no plug will completely eliminate the risk of infection.
  • Drying your ears thoroughly. Using swabs isn’t a good idea, especially when used forcefully. The best way to do it is with a dry clean towel; just gently pat the ear cavity with it. This is also recommended after you shower.
  • Avoiding sudden dives. Jumping into a large body of water from a considerable height implies subjecting the ear to a sudden change in pressure. It can cause lesions and promote infections.
A woman clearing her ear.
Proper ear hygiene is key to avoiding infections in the summer. In addition, you must avoid the use of aggressive methods, such as introducing cotton swabs into the ear canal.
  • Don’t stick anything into your ears to try to clean them or get the water out. You may feel some discomfort after getting out of a pool due to the water left in the ears. Children, in particular, are given to all sorts of attempts to get the fluid out. You must discourage this practice as it could lead to injury.
  • Use heat to finish cleaning. Don’t attempt to penetrate the ear hole when cleaning the ear with a towel. Use a warm cloth instead if you feel there’s still some water in it.

Discover How to Treat Ear Infections

What to do in case of an ear infection in the summer?

A heated towel is always a good option to soothe ear pain but under no condition should you self-medicate, even with drugs from a previous prescription.

Consult your physician as soon as possible if you think you might have an infection.

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  • Wade TJ, Sams EA, Beach MJ, Collier SA, Dufour AP. The incidence and health burden of earaches attributable to recreational swimming in natural waters: a prospective cohort study. Environ Health. 2013;12:67. Published 2013 Aug 21. doi:10.1186/1476-069X-12-67
  • Wang, M. C., Liu, C. Y., Shiao, A. S., & Wang, T. (2005). Ear problems in swimmers. Journal of the Chinese Medical Association. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1726-4901(09)70174-1
  • Steven. P. Cook. MD. (2012). Otitis del nadador (otitis externa). The Nemours Foundation. Consultado en línea el 24/09/2020 en: https://kidshealth.org/es/teens/swimmers-ear-esp.html
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