SUNDAY, July 30, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Carefree summer fun often comes to a screeching halt due to unwelcome ear aches, most commonly swimmer's ear.
Over six million cases of swimmer's ear are reported each year in the United States. By keeping certain health tips in mind, the pain and itchiness that comes with swimmer's ear may be avoided.
Swimmer's ear is usually the result of prolonged water exposure. Excessive moisture, scratches, and skin cracks allow bacteria to penetrate and infect the ear canal, causing symptoms such as pain, itchiness, swelling, redness and discharge.
For the irritation of mild swimmer's ear, the U.S. National Institutes of Health advises that vinegar may provide relief. Insert a few drops of white vinegar into one ear at a time, letting it settle in each ear for about five minutes. Do this twice a day for three days. If pain persists, prescribed antibiotic drops are suggested. If treatment is successful, pain should subside after three days.
Swimmer's ear can be prevented by taking simple steps such as fully drying the inside of ears after swimming, and turning one's head and moving the earlobes in different directions to better drain the ear of water while drying off. Earplugs are recommended for swimming as a precautionary measure.
For more information on swimmer's ear, visit the U.S. National Institutes of Health.