BHealthy Blog

Keep Ear Infections at Bay This Summer

By Dr. Janell Vinson, MD, Baptist Health Pediatric Clinic–Conway

People experience more ear infections in the summertime, especially children who participate in outdoor and water activities or suffer from seasonal allergies. Ear infections can be painful and uncomfortable, so knowing the signs and symptoms can save you from dampering your fun summer plans.

Dr. Janell Vinson with Baptist Health Pediatric Clinic-Conway provides information on the differences between ear infections vs swimmer’s ear, along with home remedies to treat them.

What are ear infections?

An ear infection is the swelling and infection of the middle ear, or behind the eardrum. Ear infections are the most common childhood illness. 

Why are ear infections more common during the summer?

Both water activities and weather temperatures are at an all time high this time of year. Because bacteria thrives in moist and warm environments, infections inside the ear become more frequent.

What is the difference between an ear infection and swimmer’s ear?

While ear infections are caused by bacteria inside the ear, swimmer’s ear is caused by water living in the outer ear outside the ear.

What are some signs and symptoms of an ear infection?

Common ear infection symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Rubbing or tugging at the ear
  • Pain or throbbing of the ear, particularly when laying down
  • Fever

How can ear infections be prevented?

  • Shake your ears dry after swimming
  • Blow dry your ears on a low setting, hold the drying 12 inches away
  • Use ear drops after swimming
  • Consider wearing ear plugs specifically made for swimming

How can ear infections be treated?

If you or your child has an ear infection, there are remedies that can speed up the healing process and alleviate the pain and discomfort that infected ears can bring.

One common treatment is to take pain medication. Taking non-prescription pain medication can help ease ear pain. 

Another common remedy is to avoid getting the ears wet during the treatment and recovery process. This can be done by placing cotton balls coated with petroleum jelly in the ear while showering and not swimming for seven to 10 days after starting treatment.

When should you talk to your doctor about an ear infection?

You should begin to feel better within 36 to 48 hours of starting treatment. If your pain worsens or does not improve within this time period, call your health care provider.

If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these symptoms, visit your primary care physician. Find a doctor near you here

To learn more about our safety tips, visit our BHealthy blog.