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Thread: Chronic ear issues from swimming

  1. #1
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    Chronic ear issues from swimming

    Anyone ever had issues with chronic ear infections or swimmers ear?

    I have had them all my life, as an infant to a crazy older lady...

    They used to occur 3-4 times a year, then I got custom ear molds about made about 8 years ago for swim and showers, and down to maybe 1 every 12-18 months. Last week I started feeling the usual fluid in my ear and tenderness, so Iíve been keeping my head out of the pool water and still wearing my earplugs. Today, itís officially a full blown ear infection and the ENT used the little vacuum tube to drain it.

    You all are so resourceful and I was hoping maybe you all had some suggestions that I could take to an ENT dr or fix on my own.
    Last edited by Prodgirl; February 1st, 2019 at 07:52 PM.

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    Very Active Member orca1946's Avatar
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    Re: Chronic ear issues from swimming

    In all the years you never went to the doctor??
    Maybe you should now and explain all the past troubles before long lasting damage occurs.

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    Re: Chronic ear issues from swimming

    Quote Originally Posted by orca1946 View Post
    In all the years you never went to the doctor??
    Maybe you should now and explain all the past troubles before long lasting damage occurs.
    Yes, I go to the ENT doctor every time. As a kid they used to just give me antibiotics. As an adult, I tell them to drain the fluid with the microscopic vacuum. They never have any suggestions though, just to avoid swimming...

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    Re: Chronic ear issues from swimming

    Have they ever suggested having tubes placed? Many folks with chronic ear infections have shorter, flatter eustachian tubes than average adults (children do as well, which is why they are more prone to ear infections).

    Otitis media, a middle ear infection, aka swimmers' ear, is caused by bacteria growing in the warm, moist environment of the ear. When the ear canal can't dry out sufficiently, bacteria thrives. The fluid buildup is a response to inflammation. Usually, adults don't build up as much fluid because, as above, their eustachian tubes (which connect to the sinus and oropharnyx) are steeper.

    A gentleman at the pool who had been a diver suggested sudafed to help dry things out, so you might try hitting with a decongestant along with the earplugs.

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    Re: Chronic ear issues from swimming

    Maybe you should go see a chiropractor.

    Sounds weird, I know. But let me tell you this sort of relative story.

    Several years ago, some friends/neighbor had a horrific car accident with the kids in the car. The family van flipped/rolled a few times. No deaths, but serious injury. For weeks/months after it, one of the kids kept getting earaches due to water not draining. The MDs/ENT couldn't figure it out. At some point during their recovery, when one of the parents was at a chiropractor for treatment, with the kid in tow, it was mentioned to the chiropractor that the kid was having the earaches. The chiro commented..."Now that I look at him I can tell he was injured in the accident." But there was no "apparent" injury to the untrained eye. But the chiro saw that the kid was holding his head ever so slightly cockeyed. That slight tilt caused the water to not drain from his ear. The chiro made a few minor adjustments, kid's head went straight, and he never had earaches again.

    So, maybe a chiropractor might see a misalignment that's causing the water to not drain from your ear.

    Dan

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    Re: Chronic ear issues from swimming

    I asked about tubes yesterday. ENT said it should have been done as a kid. For some reason it never was.
    now that Iím an adult, they only do the tubes if you are up to the 3-4 a year. And since the molds have gotten me maybe 12-18 months it wouldnít be recommended. I might try and get in to see another ENT when I get back from a long work trip, gone for 2-3 months starting Monday.

    I can try the Sudafed, Iíve veen using Benadryl. For some reason Sudafed has an adverse effect on my body, so itís not my preferred.
    Last edited by Prodgirl; February 1st, 2019 at 07:51 PM.

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    Re: Chronic ear issues from swimming

    Dan - yeah thatís crazy about a chiro.

    Unfortunately, I canít go that route. Iíve got disc degeneration in my lower back and neck and my orthopedic dr said no chiro or cheap massage.
    Last edited by Prodgirl; February 1st, 2019 at 07:50 PM.

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    Re: Chronic ear issues from swimming

    Quote Originally Posted by Prodgirl View Post
    Dan - yeah thatís crazy about a chiro.

    Unfortunately, I canít go that route. Iíve got disc degeneration in my lower back and neck and my orthopedic dr said no chiro or cheap massage.
    I understand, and concur. Nevertheless, just being "looked" at (not necessarily "treated") by a chiropractor...i.e. another set of eyes that specialize in body alignment...might reveal something that others have overlooked. Then, you could seek other avenues for treating that problem that take you other spinal issues into consideration. Just sayin'...

    Dan

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    Re: Chronic ear issues from swimming

    If sudafed has an adverse effect, don't try it. Why replace suffering with more suffering? The active ingredient in "real" sudafed, the kind they keep behind the counter, is pseudoephedrine. The decongestant out on the shelf is typically phenylephrine. If you only react poorly to one, try the other. Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) is an antihistamine. Interestingly, dramamine might help, as its active ingredient tends to dry people out, but bear in mind that, like benadryl, it can make you very sleepy.

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    Re: Chronic ear issues from swimming

    Prodgirl,

    My ear canals are narrow with bony bumps that make it hard for water to drain. I hate ear plugs, so don't use them.

    I do one of two things after every swim (lake water, river water, ocean water, pools) and have not had an ear infection in 40+ years. First option: drip a little rubbing alcohol in each ear which will mix with the water to drain easier and it might even kill some of the flora in the ear canal. Second: twist the edge of a kleenex/piece of toilet paper into a "rat tail" and carefully insert into your ear canal and this will wick the water away from deeper regions.

    Be careful not to jam the kleenex too far and damage the inner ear organs.

    The other thing you might try: set a heating pad on low and lie on your side with your ear against the pad. The water will drain/evaporate.

    Good Luck.

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    Re: Chronic ear issues from swimming

    I got a few ear infections after starting swimming at age 14. A Dr. recommended using plain isopropyl alcohol as ear drops after each swim. It displaces any water in the ears, then rapidly dries out. I never got another ear infection.

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    Re: Chronic ear issues from swimming

    Quote Originally Posted by swim_badger View Post
    If sudafed has an adverse effect, don't try it. Why replace suffering with more suffering? The active ingredient in "real" sudafed, the kind they keep behind the counter, is pseudoephedrine. The decongestant out on the shelf is typically phenylephrine. If you only react poorly to one, try the other. Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) is an antihistamine. Interestingly, dramamine might help, as its active ingredient tends to dry people out, but bear in mind that, like benadryl, it can make you very sleepy.
    Iteresting about the Dramamine. And yes, just one Benadryl will make me sleep for about 10 hpurs!
    Sudafed will eventually do the same, but it makes me extremely jittery and itch feeling for the first 4-5 hours.

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    Re: Chronic ear issues from swimming

    I was reading about the alcohol drops last night when I was actually laying with my ear on a heating pad! So the alcohol helps? I just saw another suggestion on that below.

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    Re: Chronic ear issues from swimming

    Quote Originally Posted by Prodgirl View Post
    I was reading about the alcohol drops last night when I was actually laying with my ear on a heating pad! So the alcohol helps? I just saw another suggestion on that below.
    A homemade cure can be mixed from a solution of half rubbing alcohol and half vinegar. The alcohol combines with water in the ear and then evaporates, removing the water, while the acidity of the vinegar keeps bacteria from growing. Apply a couple of drops of solution in each ear ... i've used this and it has been effective ... but nose plugs have helped more and by having less sinus issues i'm having less ear issues
    As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.

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    Re: Chronic ear issues from swimming

    Absolutely use ear drops. I'm really surprised in all those ENT visits you were never told to. I just use alcohol, as it breaks the surface tension of the water, and lets it drain out, and as mentioned above, mixes with it and evaporates very quickly. It may burn a little, but not very long.

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    Re: Chronic ear issues from swimming

    I have had pool related ear problems for years. I suspect it to be from a silicon reaction or hypersensitivity. Once I avoided ear plugs the problems became controlled. I admit keeping ears dry is a challenge, especially without sticking anything inside the ear, but having ear infections can be serious. I also use ear drops only if absolutely necessary, for stubborn moisture.

    Good fitting swim caps do seem to limit the amount of moisture that enters the ear, as well as the head shaking between swims

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    Re: Chronic ear issues from swimming

    Along with the drops, you can do a couple of other things. When you're drying your hair, you can wave the dryer over your ear (not directly in it) and it'll help to dry it out. Or another thing is to take some tissue paper and make a small point out of one corner and use it as a wick to pull water out of your ear. Again, don't cram it into you ear, but just keep it on the edge where it'll pull water to it.
    Kari Kennedy

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