Ear Tubes: Swimming And Bathing
More than 2 million ear tubes are placed each year in the U.S. If your child has tubes, you probably have some of the following questions:
- First: What about swimming? Recent studies have shown that surface swimming is safe. This type of swimming doesn't cause increased ear infections. Try to limit swimming to chlorinated swimming pools. Try to avoid swimming in lakes and ponds, especially during late summer when they are warmer. They may be overgrown with bacteria and not good for anyone's ear canal.
- Second: What about diving? Avoid underwater swimming or diving. The underwater pressure can force water through the tube into the middle ear.
- Third: What about bathing or showers? Water does not get into the middle ear space with normal bathing and showering. But try to keep soapy water and shampoo out of the ears. Have your child lean backwards when you rinse off the hair. Since the ear canal points forward, this technique will keep most shampoo out of them. But there's no need for excessive concern.
- Fourth: What about ear plugs? Unless they are the expensive molded type, there is no evidence they can keep water out of the ear canals. The disadvantage of ear plugs is they push wax in the wrong direction. And wax buildup increases the risk of swimmer's ear. You don't need them.
- Finally: What about drainage from the ear canal? Drainage of pus or cloudy fluid usually means your child has a middle ear infection. Most physicians treat it with both an oral antibiotic and antibiotic eardrops. Slight drainage of clear fluid may just need some eardrops. Give them a call.
If you think your child may need to be seen, call your healthcare provider for advice.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 6/1/2008
Last Revised: 6/1/2000
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages