May 18, 2009

Wax helps prevent swimmer’s ear

Ear wax helps avoid otitis externa -- swimmer's ear -- a U.S. doctor says.

Dr. Ian Storper of the New York -Presbyterian Hospital/ Columbia University Medical Center explains swimmer's ear is actually an inflammation of the external ear canal and the wax producing -- cerumen -- glands that it lines. The root of the problem is an absence of ear wax which protects the thin skin of the ear from summer's high humidity and heat as well as the exposure of the ear canal to bacteria-laden waters

Swimmer's ear sufferers usually complain of sharp pain in the ear and jaw area and hearing loss. There may also be severe itching in the ear canal, but scratching worsens the condition which can require the use of eardrops and oral antibiotics. If an infection develops, Storper advises seeking medical attention.

Understanding the important role of ear wax, Storper says, can help swimmers prevent swimmer's ear. For instance, he cautions against using cotton swabs or anything else to remove the normal ear wax lining protecting the ear canal.