Saturday, September 12, 2015

Home Remedy for Swimmer's Ear

When my husband was growing up, he and all of his siblings were on the swim team. More than one
of them were afflicted with swimmer's ear. Swimmer's ear is an infection of the outer ear canal. This
happens when water stays in the ear canal and creates a fertile environment for bacterial growth. Ear infections that are not treated can lead to more serious problems like hearing loss. At one point my mother-in-law got a 1 oz bottle of ear drops for one of her son's. It cost $50. (And that was years ago.) When he had used them up she called the clinic for a refill prescription. The nurse told her 'Just use Everclear alcohol. That's basically what the drop are.' And the last time I checked you can get a 16 oz bottle of Everclear alcohol for $4.

For years I have kept a small bottle with a dropper filled with Everclear in the back of my medicine cupboard. On the occasion that my kids or the neighbors kids came down with an ear infection I have put a few drops in their ears. The alcohol is effective in killing the infection, but it burns.

This week my professor mentioned another alternative. She recommends the following recipe to her patients:

1 oz white vinegar
1 oz rubbing alcohol
Use a few drops in the effected ear, or 1 drop in each ear after swimming.

Both vinegar and rubbing alcohol are effective in killing the kind of bacteria that you would find on your skin or in your ears. And my guess is that the vinegar mixture would be less painful than straight high proof alcohol. In any case, there are simple, cheap and effective ways of treating swimmer's ear so kids can keep enjoying their pool time.

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