As much fun as water is, it can contribute to severe health problems in your ears. This is especially true for young children, who are more susceptible to ear infections, although kids of all ages who spend a lot of time in the water can get what is commonly known as “swimmer’s ear.” Repeated infections occur because water tends to disrupt the normal condition of the ear canal skin and makes it easier for bacteria to start an infection. When the water is untreated, such as in rivers, lakes and streams, this is even more likely.
Kids have a natural tendency to clear their ears of fluid by wiggling their fingers in their ears to remove excess water, but this is a bad idea. The ears are very sensitive and can be easily scratched, making the ear canal a prime location for bacteria to settle.
The solution is prevention, of course. There are several affordable products on the market available for this purpose, but custom fit ear molds are the most effective. Made from impressions of the ears, these swim plugs fit perfectly to keep the water out, and are clearly marked for left and right ears.
“If you want your kids to use them reliably, they have to be user-friendly,” says Fort HealthCare Audiologist, Lori Fish. “The ear molds I work with are made from a soft silicone and they have little handles, so kids can easily insert and remove them.” Another benefit Fish notes, is that the swim plugs float, so they’re almost impossible to lose, and come in an assortment of vibrant neon colors so they are easy to see. Many patients prefer the “Swyrl” option, which is a combination of three colors swirled together in patterns that are always unique.
Custom ear molds are available in adult sizes, also, and serve other purposes besides preventing water from entering the ear canal. “Protecting your ears from loud noises on the job site or recreationally, such as continued use of a chain saw or lawn mowing equipment, is important in preventing prolonged hearing loss,” says Fish.
Custom ear molds require a 15-minute impression appointment prior to ordering. To learn more, or to schedule an appointment in Fort Atkinson, Whitewater or Edgerton, call Fort HealthCare Audiology at 920.563.6667.