With the arrival of the summer season, children spend more time enjoying outdoor activities, raising their risk of suffering ear infections (otitis). In this article, we explain why parents need to take greater care of their children’s health while they play outside and what can be done to prevent an infection or inflammation of the ear.
Summer ear infections
The summer is synonymous with an endless number of activities that can damage our hearing health: swimming and diving in salt or fresh water, traveling by airplane, exposure to loud noise and music at festivals, concerts, or watching fireworks. This season of the year can be the most dangerous for our ears, so it is vital that we take extra care to prevent ear infections, particularly in the oldest and youngest members of the family, who are more prone to suffer this type of health issue.
According to the experts, one in three people in Spain will suffer a summer ear infection, making it one of the most common health issues during the warmest season of the year.
Below are our 7 tips for caring for children’s hearing during the summer:
7 tips for preventing summer ear infections in children
1. Make sure their ears are perfectly dry after swimming: to avoid “swimmer’s ear”, a notorious and painful infection that is caused by moisture and water remaining in the ear canal after swimming, we recommend that children use silicone or putty earplugs that can be moulded to their ears to prevent water getting in. Children should also take great care in drying their ears well every time they leave the water. This is the greatest line of defence against otitis externa or otitis media (inflammation of the outer or middle ear) and other types of ear infection. However, this preventive measure should be maintained throughout the year, even after a shower.
2. Avoid the over-use of air conditioning: these units reduce the humidity levels in the air, creating an artificial environment and continuous currents of air that affect the respiratory tract and, therefore, the ears and hearing. We recommend creating a stable room temperature of between 22º-24º and filling some containers with water to leave around the house, which will help to increase the humidity levels.
3. Maintain the child’s hydration levels on the hottest days: in addition to causing dizziness and nausea, dehydration can cause tinnitus by reducing the volume of blood circulating and lowering blood pressure. Children should preferably drink between 4 and 6 glasses of water a day.
4. Prevent barotrauma: during the summer holidays, travelling by air becomes more common. Some people are more sensitive to changes in air pressure, which can cause discomfort and ear pain. In some cases, they may also suffer a temporary loss of hearing. The best way to combat these symptoms is to drink frequently, suck a sweet or chew gum during the flight.
5. Do not swim in contaminated water: ear infections can also be caused by swimming in unhygienic or dirty water such as ponds or rivers. According to Carlos Ruiz, Head of the Ear, Nose and Throat Department at the Hospital Universitario Quirón Madrid, this kind of water can be infected by a bacteria called Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which enters the ear canal and causes infections, effusion and hearing loss. Therefore, we recommend avoiding taking your children to any bathing area that does not comply with hygiene standards to prevent this type of microbe from entering their ears.
6. Avoid deep plunges and diving: if you do not want your child to suffer an ear infection or damage their ear drum in summer, do not allow them to jump into the pool or sea from high up, to avoid their ears suddenly being filled with a large amount of water. The same applies to deep sea diving: the deeper we dive, the greater the pressure our ears are exposed to. Try to avoid your children taking part in this sport. A less harmful alternative is snorkelling with ear plugs.
7. Protect them from loud noise: the summer is the time of the year in which many people go to more festivals, parties and concerts, which are usually very loud thanks to music or fireworks. If you would like to protect your child’s hearing, special ear plugs are available that reduce the pressure on their ear drum in these cases.
We hope you have taken good note of these tips on preventing childhood ear infections in summer and that you and your family enjoy great hearing health during your holiday. If your child shows any symptoms of an ear infection, make sure you visit their paediatrician.
Leave us a comment below if you have any more tips! 🙂