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Can Hearing Aids Cause Swimmer’s Ear?

Hearing Aids

Before you head out to the beach or lake, make sure you're aware that wearing hearing aids can cause swimmer's ear! Even more so, hearing aids and water simply don't mix!

Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to prevent hearing loss, protect your ears, and protect your hearing aids.

Continue reading to learn more about the correlation between hearing aids and swimmer's ear as well as how you can protect your hearing. 

Can Hearing Aids Cause Swimmer's Ear? 

Swimmer's ear is a type of ear infection situated in your outer ear canal. Your outer ear canal stretches from the outside of your head to your eardrum. If you suffer from swimmer's ear, your body's natural defenses have been overwhelmed. A few of the most common conditions that promote bacterial growth and weaken your defenses, include:

  1. Swimmer's ear is commonly caused by excess water remaining in the ear after you finish swimming. This dark, moist environment serves as a petri dish for bacteria to grow and thrive. 

  2. Putting cotton swabs, fingers, and other foreign objects into the ear canal can lead to swimmer's ear.

  3. Wearing hearing aids or earbuds can cause tiny breaks in the skin that promote bacterial growth and cause swimmer's ear. 

  4. Jewelry and certain hair products can result in sensitivity reactions and skin infections that lead to swimmer's ear.

  5. Exposure to polluted water — like hot tubs — that may be filled with bacteria. 

While it's a skin infection, swimmer's ear can be relatively difficult to treat considering the heat, tight space, and humidity of the ear canal. However, prompt treatment can help prevent further complications from otitis externa as well as more serious problems. 

How Do I Know If I Have Swimmer's Ear? 

The symptoms of swimmer's ear are always milder in the beginning but tend to worsen as the infection spreads and isn't treated. The symptoms for swimmer's ear can range from mild to advanced

Mild symptoms of swimmer's ear include:

  • Slight redness in your ear
  • Some drainage of odorless, clear fluid
  • Itching in the ear
  • Mild discomfort by pushing the "little bump" in front of your ear or by pulling the outer ear.

Moderate swimmer's ear symptoms include:

  • Increasing pain
  • Muffled or decreased hearing
  • A more intense itching sensation
  • Increased ear redness
  • Increased fluid drainage
  • A partial blockage or feeling of fullness due to the fluid, debris, and swelling

Advanced swimmer's ear symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Complete blockage of the ear canal
  • Severe radiating pain can spread to your neck, face, and side of the neck.
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • Swelling or redness of the outer ear

What Long-Term Complications Can Swimmer's Ear Cause? 

In most instances, swimmer's ear isn't a serious condition — as long as it is promptly treated. However, if you ignore swimmer's ear, serious complications can emerge. A few of the most notable complications include:

  • Temporary hearing loss or conductive hearing loss can be caused by untreated swimmer's ear. Conductive hearing loss is caused by sound being blocked and usually results in muffled sounds.
  • Deep tissue infection or cellulitis
  • Chronic otitis externa or long-term infection
  • More wide-spread infection
  • Damage to cartilage and bones

How to Prevent Swimmer's Ear in General? 

You can prevent swimmer's ear in a number of ways. For starters, make sure to clean your ears properly. This means you should never insert Q-Tips into your ear. There are a number of ways to properly clean your ear, but Q-Tips should never be on the list. It's especially important to avoid putting sharp or pointy items in your ear because they can cut your canal and facilitate the proliferation of bacteria. If you've recently gone swimming, make sure to take time to dry your ears. By taking a few simple steps, you can protect your hearing and help avoid the development of swimmer's ear. 

How to Prevent Swimmer's Ear from Hearing Aid? 

For those who wear hearing aids, it's particularly important to remove your hearing aids when you are swimming or participating in activities with water. Hearing aids can thwart moisture from leaving your ear. At the same time, hearing aids can promote the buildup of ear wax in your canal, which is another condition that may increase your likelihood of developing swimmers ear.

In addition, exposing your hearing aids to moisture can result in the devices being damaged by water or cause your hearing aid batteries to stop working. As a result, it's critical to keep your hearing aids dry to ensure you enjoy optimum hearing health. 

Protecting Your Hearing Aids from Water

If you're going to the beach or the lake, it makes sense to plan to protect your hearing aids. A waterproof case is always a major plus — in the event you do take a dip into the water. You can store your hearing aids in the case and put them back in after the hearing aids are completely dry. 

Although waterproof hearing aids do exist, these devices are typically designed to protect against sweat or rain — not complete submersion in water. You can use hearing aid dehumidifiers to rid your hearing aids of moisture after a long day. 

Contact North Shore Hearing P.C.Today

Contact North Shore Hearing P.C. today! 

Diane Faulknor, MA, CCC/A

After 18 years of experience in the field of audiology and hearing aid dispensing, I felt it was time to start my own practice which has led to the creation of North Shore Hearing, P.C. I take pride in the care I provide for my patients as hearing is not just a medical issues we need to deal with, but also the social and lifestyle ramifications that people with poor hearing live with on a day-to-day basis. Based on not only your hearing loss, but also the type of lifestyle you lead, we'll work together to fit you with the most appropriate hearing aid available in today's marketplace.