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Water sports, such as swimming and diving, can sometimes cause ear disease, either due to bacterial, fungal infections, or water pressure itself. However, you don't need to worry because ear diseases can be prevented as well as treated
Activities in the water, such as swimming, diving, and surfing, are fun. However, this exercise can make the ears enter water repeatedly. Over a long period of time, this condition can make the ear moist, making it susceptible to fungal and bacterial infections.
Not only that, the enormous pressure changes below the surface of the water while diving can also cause ear pain and blockage.
Ear Disease due to Swimming and Diving
The following are some common ear diseases that occur due to swimming and diving activities:
Otitis externa is a bacterial infection that occurs in the outer ear canal, precisely in the part between the ear canal and the eardrum. This condition is also known as swimmer's ear, because it generally occurs in people who often swim.
In addition to water entering the ear when swimming, otitis externa can also be caused by other things, ranging from humid weather, excessive sweating of the ears, to the use of cotton buds to clean the ears too often.
Otitis externa is usually characterized by several symptoms, such as redness of the ears, itching and congestion, to discharge a clear, odorless fluid.
Even though it looks mild, otitis externa needs to be treated by a doctor immediately to avoid more serious complications, such as damage to the ear cartilage and infection that spreads to the brain or nerves around the ear.
fungal infection of the ear
Not only bacterial infections, swimming and diving can also cause fungal infections of the ear (otomycosis). This type of infection is more at risk for diabetics or people who live in humid and warm climates.
The symptoms of fungal infections of the ear are generally similar to otitis externa in general. However, this condition cannot be treated with antibiotics, but with antifungal ear drops.
When a person is diving, the eustachian tube in the ear needs to be open so that the air pressure on the outside and inside of the eardrum can be balanced. However, if the eustachian tube is blocked, the air pressure outside the ear will push against the eardrum causing ear pain.
The initial symptoms of barotrauma are generally mild, such as ear discomfort and pain and decreased ability to hear. These symptoms can also be overcome in simple ways, namely by swallowing, yawning, or chewing.
However, if the initial symptoms of barotrauma are ignored and diving continues, barotrauma can cause a ruptured eardrum with more severe symptoms, ranging from severe ear pain, ringing in the ear, to hearing loss.
Barotrauma accompanied by severe symptoms needs to be treated by a doctor immediately. Doctors can prescribe pain relievers or suggest surgical procedures according to the barotrauma condition experienced.
Preventing Ear Diseases When Swimming and Diving
To avoid the risk of ear disease, there are several tips that you can do when swimming and diving, including:
- Make a slow dive to slow down changes in air pressure in the ear
- Dry the outside of the ear with a soft towel immediately after swimming or diving
- If water gets into the ear, tilt your head so that the water trapped in the ear canal comes out
- If necessary, chew or swallow to relieve symptoms of ear disease
- Do not put any object or liquid into the ear, because it can cause the lining of the ear canal to be injured or scratched
- Avoid diving when you are suffering from flu or sinusitis symptoms, because these conditions can cause blocked eustachian tubes
Not only that, you are also advised to regularly check with your doctor to keep your ears he althy and avoid the risk of developing ear disease, whether that occurs due to swimming, diving, or other activities.
By doing the various prevention methods above, you don't have to worry anymore about swimming or diving. However, you are still advised to consult a doctor if you experience symptoms of ear disease after swimming or diving, such as ear pain, itching, congestion, and buzzing.