Woman helping fixing a hearing aid on a swimmer's ear

Swim Smart: 4 tips from hearing care professionals

Swimming can expose your ears to risks like otitis externa, or swimmer's ear. Bacteria in water can damage hair cells in the ear, leading to hearing loss. 

Here are some tips from hearing care professionals about protecting your hearing when swimming.

1. Make sure the water is clean.

Ensure pools or hot tubs are properly maintained and chlorinated to keep bacteria away from your ears (and the rest of your body!). If you are swimming in a lake or pond, try to avoid stagnant water. If you are heading to a new swimming spot, research the water quality before you dive in. 

2. Protect your ears.

It is most important to wear earplugs if you have a tube or perforation in your eardrum, if you are prone to getting swimmer's ear, if you spend a lot of time in chilly water, or if you are swimming in water that is not chemically treated such as a lake.

3. Dry your ears after you swim

After you are done swimming, make sure that any excess water is out of your ears. Here is how:

  • Dry your outer ear with a soft towel
  • Lean your head and pull gently on the earlobe
  • Use rubbing alcohol, alcohol-vinegar solution, or hydrogen peroxide
  • Chew or yawn to open your eustachian tubes
  • Inhale steam to open your eustachian tubes

4. Contact a hearing care professional if needed.

If it feels like you cannot get all the water out of your ears, consult a hearing care professional to see if your ears should be cleaned or if further evaluations are needed. consult a hearing care professional to clean your ears or to see if further evaluations are needed.

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