BY Dr. Peter Waldstein M.D. and Dr. Julia A. White M.D.
Q: How do you get swimmer’s ear?
A: Swimmer’s ear is an inflammation of the external canal of the ear usually caused by the water. When the kids spend a lot of time swimming during the summer they may get swimmer’s ear.
Q: How do I know the difference between swimmer’s ear and an ear infection?
A: If you tug on the child’s ear lobe it will cause discomfort. A middle ear infection requiring antibiotics is usually brought on by an upper respiratory infection (cold).
Q: How do I prevent swimmer’s ear?
A: It can be prevented by swabbing the external canal with a q-tip dipped in alcohol (not Grey Goose) after swimming and bathing.
Q: How do I treat swimmer’s ear?
A: Swimmers ear is treated with antibiotic ear drops and keeping the canal dry.
Q: Are there ear drops I should keep in my travel bag?
A: There are over the counter drops that can be used to prevent, but not treat swimmers ear (otitis external).
Q: Can my child fly with swimmer’s ear?
A: A child can fly with swimmers ear.
Dr. Peter S. Waldstein is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at UCLA. Dr. White and Dr. Waldstein are both Attending Physicians at Cedars Sinai Medical Center with a private practice in Beverly Hills.