Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Alivia. Alivia Wonders, “What is swimmers ear?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Alivia!

Is there anything better than a hot summer day spent in the pool? Perhaps you prefer the beach or a local lake. Either way, swimming is a popular hobby for kids and adults alike. 

Of course, it’s important to always practice safety when swimming. Never swim without an adult, stay out of the water during storms, and always know how deep the water is. And—how could we forget?—dry your ears after swimming. Otherwise, you’re risking a painful condition called swimmer’s ear.

What is swimmer’s ear? It’s an infection of the outer ear canal. Also called otitis external, swimmer’s ear is a bacterial infection. It’s common in children and people of all ages who spend a good deal of time swimming.

Have you ever had swimmer’s ear? If so, you know it can be quite painful. Ear pain is the most common sign of the condition. Other symptoms include itchiness and discharge from the ear. Often, the ear will look swollen or red. In severe cases, it can even temporarily affect your ability to hear.

Are you thinking swimmer’s ear sounds like no fun? You’re right! Luckily, it can be prevented. The infection is caused by bacteria that find a moist home in the outer ear canal. The best way to prevent it is to keep your ears dry. Many people find it useful to wear a bathing cap or ear plugs while swimming. Others prefer to dry their ears after they get out of the water. They can do so using a towel or by tilting their head to let the water run out of their ears.

Do you or a friend get swimmer’s ear often? If so, it might help to use special ear drops that help dry out the ears after swimming. A doctor can give you the best advice for preventing the condition. They may also prescribe antibiotics to fight an active infection.

Luckily, most cases of swimmer’s ear clear up after about a week of treatment. Still, it’s not an experience anyone wants to have more than once. If you swim often, take steps to protect yourself from swimmer’s ear. Besides keeping your ears dry, it’s important to only swim in clean water.

Do you love swimming? If so, talk to an adult family member about how you can protect yourself from swimmer’s ear. With the right precautions, you can continue to take part in this fun pastime.

Standards: NGSS.LS1.A, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.3, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.9, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2

Wonder What's Next?

We spy with our little eye something that is . . . BLUE!