The Tube To Better Hearing

Ear tubes are helpful for people suffering from chronic or recurrent ear infections. Some ear infections result from fluid buildup, causing pain, pressure, inflammation, and other unwanted symptoms. A doctor or ear nose and throat (ENT) specialist will suggest the procedure if medication, antibiotics, or other conventional methods fail to bring relief. With ear tube placement, the ENT inserts tiny tympanostomy tubes through small slits in the eardrum. This relieves pressure and allows excess fluid to drain out the middle ear. Some patients are eager to know if swimming is allowed after placement or removal. Exercising suitable caution is vital to swimming pain-free.

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Swimming concerns

The goal of ear tube placement is to relieve pain and pressure caused by issues with the ear. Sinus infections, allergies, bacterial infections, or a damaged eardrum can lead to repeat ear infections. If medication fails, a surgeon installs tubes to relieve pressure. There is a concern that swimming may worsen the condition, especially after surgery. The rush of water can cause some discomfort in the ear, even to those without infections. There’s also the possibility of a swimmer’s ear, another cause of ear infections. This concern is for children in particular, as the eustachian tube between the nose and ear is shorter than the average adult. Therefore, the chances of infections or complications after surgery are much higher. With tubes in place or recently removed, people worry that the ears are more vulnerable when swimming.

Hitting the water after ear tubes

With any surgery, there should be a period of downtime for sufficient recovery. With ear tube placement, this is no different. However, after a short recovery time, there are no restrictions on swimming with ear tubes. The procedure is minimally invasive and should not compromise the eardrum. Furthermore, tympanostomy tubes are so small that no water should be able to enter. Therefore, children and adults should be able to resume swimming soon after surgery without issue. However, there are cases where patients experience pain in the water after an ear tube placement. Should this happen, revisit the ENT specialist immediately. The patient may need further treatment, custom ear tubes, or special earplugs while swimming.

Removing the tubes

Ear tubes, on average, stay in the ear for 6-18 months for children. For adults, the tubes may stay in longer. As the eardrum heals, the tubes fall out naturally, but some cases require surgical removal. After ear tube removal, the incisions have healed, so water should not enter the ear. However, the patient should see the ENT specialist before taking a swim. The doctor can assess the ear and give the all-clear on enjoying the water. Some doctors still recommend earplugs while swimming during this time since the risk of pain and a new infection is higher.

Get your swim on

Ear tube placement is a minimally invasive procedure that should not limit swimming. As long as patients do not dive deep underwater, swimming is allowed. Use earplugs if there is still some pressure or pain. When the ear tubes come out, the goal may be to hit the water immediately. However, some doctors recommend monitoring the ear first for any sudden changes in pain. From there, swimming can resume without issue. Ear tube placement is a powerful tool to improve chronic ear infections that should not affect the patient’s time in the water.

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