ZocdocAnswersCan too much swimming cause hearing problems?

Question

Can too much swimming cause hearing problems?

I wear earplugs but they don't always help. I am a 30 year old female swimmer. My right ear seems clogged.

Answer

While too much swimming itself doesn't cause ear problems per se, the water that gets into your ears routinely can cause problems either directly or indirectly. All of us have experienced the sensation of having water in your ears that doesn't seem to come out. Usually this will resolve by itself over a short period of time. If it has been more than seems reasonable, there are over the counter remedies that you can find from your drug store that might help. Be advised that cotton tipped applicators (Q tips) are not recommended, as they can damage your ear drum or force the wax up against the drum. If your symptoms are more than the simple water-in-the-ear sensation, then there is also a condition known as swimmer's ear (doctor's usually call it otitis externa, or acute otitis externa). It is caused by bacteria invading the skin of the ear canal, and this invasion is aided by the moist environment that swimmer's ears often have. It is very painful, and especially hurts when you touch the outer ear. You will need to see your primary care doctor or otolaryngologist (ear-nose-and throat surgeon) if you are having these symptoms, or if your clogged ear does not resolve by itself or has other symptoms that are concerning.

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