Sunday, May 30, 2010

Preventing swimmer's ear

One of the biggest challenges of our first summer with hearing aids was swimmer's ear.  The audiologist impressed upon me that the aids should never get wet.  I started the very day she got hearing aids, carefully drying her hair after Water Tots swim class.  Then I put her hair in a pony tail, put the hearing aids in, and we went about our day.

We got away with it for a little while before the first outer ear infection sent Julia into a screaming, crying lump on the floor.  She gave me a bunch of trouble getting the hearing aids in.  We were off to the pediatrician.

Twice that summer we had to do ear drops and leave the hearing aids out for multiple days.  I was horrified to leave her without amplification because she was still struggling to develop speech skills. 

As it turns out, hearing aid wearers in particular need to be really careful about making sure the ear is completely dry before inserting a hearing aid.  Some use a hair dryer at a safe distance.  I feel more comfortable using the corner of a soft towel to dry each ear.  Then I pay attention to the way the ear molds slide into her ear.  If the canal is still wet you can hear and feel it ever so slightly.  I'll take them back out and dry them again. 

Each summer we mix up a batch of our own homemade preventative:  equal parts white vinegar and rubbing alcohol.  Two drops of that go in each ear before bedtime on swimming days. 

After a rough start, we've been able to keep two nice healthy ear canals all summer long.  It takes a little extra work, but these two steps ensure Julia can swim and then return to comfortably wearing her hearing aids.

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