Fort Worth, Texas,
15:54 PM

Is It Swimmer's Ear or an Ear Infection?

A nurse practitioner explains the difference

Lots of ear infections this week at Willow Park, and with everyone getting in the pool again let’s talk about swimmer’s ear vs. inner ear infection. It can be a little confusing!

Swimmer’s ears are infections in the canals of the ears that make the ear very painful to touch and movement of the ear. It is typically caused from water sitting in the canal too long, resulting in swelling and drainage in the canal from the bacterial overgrowth.It is not typically accompanied by fevers and cold... symptoms.

Because it is outside of the ear drum we can use prescription drops to treat it. Motrin works well for the pain and heating pads if needed.

You can prevent them by using the over the counter ear drying drops after swimming. I have included a photo of what they look like. You can also make you own with equal part rubbing alcohol and white vinegar and place 5-10 drops in each ear.

Inner ear infections typically follow prolonged periods of nasal congestion from allergies or a cold. The nasal swelling causes fluid to back up behind the ear drum. It is not usually painful on the outside of the ear and can cause fevers. We have to use oral antibiotics to treat them, because the drops can’t penetrate behind the ear drums where the infection is.

You can keep swimming with an inner ear infection, we recommended waiting to swim until pain is resolved with a swimmer’s ear.

As always, call us with any questions and enjoy the warm weather and swimming season!!

-Sperry, NP

More About Ear Infections



Get to know Sperry Binnicker, a Nurse Practitioner at Willow Park

Sperry Binnicker is a nurse practitioner at Willow Park. Sperry joined Cook Children's in 2009 in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). In that role, she earned the Daisy Award, an award given to a nurse that is nominated and selected by the parents of patients for excellence in patient care. She continued her education while working full time and received her master’s degree from the University of Texas at Arlington in May of 2015.She is a Board Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and a member of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners. Learn more about the Willow Park staff here.

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Daniela Sanders
Can you use the swimmers ear drops in ears that have tubes?