Article

Ear problems in swimmers.

Department of Otolaryngology, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan.
Journal of the Chinese Medical Association (Impact Factor: 0.89). 09/2005; 68(8):347-52. DOI: 10.1016/S1726-4901(09)70174-1
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Acute diffuse otitis externa (swimmer's ear), otomycosis, exostoses, traumatic eardrum perforation, middle ear infection, and barotraumas of the inner ear are common problems in swimmers and people engaged in aqua activities. The most common ear problem in swimmers is acute diffuse otitis externa, with Pseudomonas aeruginosa being the most common pathogen. The symptoms are itching, otalgia, otorrhea, and conductive hearing loss. The treatment includes frequent cleansing of the ear canal, pain control, oral or topical medications, acidification of the ear canal, and control of predisposing factors. Swimming in polluted waters and ear-canal cleaning with cotton-tip applicators should be avoided. Exostoses are usually seen in people who swim in cold water and present with symptoms of accumulated debris, otorrhea and conductive hearing loss. The treatment for exostoses is transmeatal surgical removal of the tumors. Traumatic eardrum perforations may occur during water skiing or scuba diving and present with symptoms of hearing loss, otalgia, otorrhea, tinnitus and vertigo. Tympanoplasty might be needed if the perforations do not heal spontaneously. Patients with chronic otitis media with active drainage should avoid swimming, while patients who have undergone mastoidectomy and who have no cavity problems may swim. For children with ventilation tubes, surface swimming is safe in a clean, chlorinated swimming pool. Sudden sensorineural hearing loss and some degree of vertigo may occur after diving because of rupture of the round or oval window membrane.

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