Mon, Aug 13, 2012 - Page 10 News List

Summer is the season for swimmer’s ear
夏天戲水 急性外耳炎多三成

Children play in a swimming pool in Taipei on Aug. 26 last year.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Liberty Times

People wash their hair and go swimming more often in the summer, and with more water entering the ears along with damage caused by improper cleaning, symptoms, for example, pain, itching, secretions and odors, can also occur more frequently.

Otolaryngologists, or ear, nose and throat doctors, have recently seen a 30 percent increase in cases of acute otitis externa, or swimmer’s ear, which if left untreated could get worse and cause the eardrum to rupture, do damage to the middle ear, and possibly affect one’s hearing.

Swimmer’s ear is very common during the summer months. Wu Sih-wei, director of Taichung Hospital’s Department of Otolaryngology, says that around 90 percent of swimmer’s ear cases are water-related. Water can easily enter the ear when washing one’s hair, rinsing off in the shower or taking a dip in the pool to cool off. When the inside of the ear is wet and moist, people will usually want to dig around in their ears, but because the skin inside the ear canal is quite thin, damage can easily be done, causing inflammation if the water inside the ear is unsanitary.

Many people this summer with ear infections are exhibiting the symptoms of pain and itching, and subsequently digging moist, odorous secretions out of their ears. In severe cases, people are not going to the doctor until pus starts running out of their ears. Most of the cases that doctors are seeing are swimmer’s ear. If the condition grows worse, it could cause the eardrum to rupture or otitis media, commonly called middle ear infection.

Aside from swimmer’s ear, many people are also getting chronic infections due to outer ear infections caused by mold, which also causes pain, itching and secretions.


1. inflammation n.

發炎 (fa1 yan2)

例: Inflammation can be caused by infection.


2. symptom n.

症狀 (zheng4 zhuang4)

例: A runny nose and a sore throat are typical symptoms of the common cold.


3. cotton swab n. phr.

棉花棒 (mian2 hua1 bang4)

例: Using cotton swabs is not a medically recommended method for removing earwax.


Wu suggests wearing earplugs when swimming to keep water from entering the ears, and says people should not use cotton swabs or Q-tips to clean their ears after taking a shower or washing their hair to avoid doing damage to the ear canal and causing infection. Wu also adds that people should not use the same cotton swabs or Q-tips that have been used by other people when visiting hair or beauty salons.

(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)







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