Hearing Loss in
Swimmers

The Connection Between
Swimming and Hearing Loss

Some people who are avid swimmers have asked us whether swimming can cause hearing loss, or whether there is a correlation between these two. Correlation is probably the better word to use when speaking of swimming and hearing loss. If you’ve been swimming at some point, whether a one-off to the beach or several years of recreational or even competitive swimming / aquatics, you may have noticed at some point that you suffered from a degree of hearing loss.

There is something called “Swimmer’s Ear,” and this is the most common form of hearing loss connected to swimming. It begins as an ear infection and/or earache. After this, a gradual or even sudden onset of hearing loss (to one degree or another) can occur. Swimmer’s ear is a temporary condition. However, for avid swimmers who are in the water on a regular basis, the recurrence of swimmer’s ear is also a realistic concern.

Can Swimmers Suffer Permanent Hearing Loss?

While long-term hearing loss is not unheard of among swimmers, this hearing loss is almost always due to ageing and/or other environmental / genetic factors. However, there are many people who swim on a regular basis, sometimes even daily; some of whom suffer from the aforementioned swimmer’s ear and find that they are prone to experiencing recurrence of this condition.

If you are an avid swimmer, have experienced hearing loss and are looking for a way to help this situation, there’s reason to be optimistic. While swimmer’s ear is a temporary condition, it can repeat itself – but many have found hearing aids to be extremely helpful. Hearing aids don’t always have to be worn. On the contrary, you can be tested and fitted for hearing aids and use them just at the times when you get a recurrence of swimmer’s ear. No more need to suffer in silence!

Custom Hearing Protective Devices Might Meet Your Needs

Custom Hearing Protection

In addition to hearing aids, we offer a number of devices that work effectively to protect your ears from damage that would otherwise lead to (further) hearing loss. Find out more by talking with a NexGen Hearing clinician today.

Hearing Protection for Industrial Noise Exposure

Many people suffered hearing loss due to prolonged exposure to dangerously high decibel levels in the workplace. Hearing aids are an excellent solution for virtually anyone who suffers from hearing loss.

Hearing Protection for Musicians

Whether you play music, listen to music or both, you may be exposed to unsafe levels of noise. We offer a wide range of ear plugs and other hearing protective devices for musicians and music aficionados.

Swimming Tips for People with
Hearing Loss or Hearing Aids

If you are concerned about the temporary hearing loss associated with swimmer’s ear, there are ways you can protect against it. Hearing loss prevention can be achieved with the help of earplugs or custom molded ear protection. You can also drain water from the ears after swimming. Swimming in chlorinated or filtrated water can reduce the exposure to bacteria that causes swimmer’s ear and temporary hearing loss.

Conversely, we have many clients who wear hearing aids and enjoy swimming. Use a waterproof container in which to place your hearing aids before going into the pool, lake or ocean (or being exposed to sand at the beach). Some hearing aids are water-resistant, which can be helpful not for swimming but working or playing near water (or in activities where one sweats). Talk to a NexGen Hearing professional about your best hearing aid options.

Most Frequently Asked Questions

Can swimming cause hearing loss?

There is a correlation between swimmers and people who suffer a temporary loss of hearing. It would not be wholly accurate to say that swimming is the “cause” of hearing loss; not directly and not in a permanent sense. However, swimming is associated with a condition know as “Swimmer’s Ear.” This condition is brought on by a bacterial ear infection. Earache is one symptom of swimmer’s ear. Hearing los is another. Swimmer’s ear is a temporary condition, and thus the potential for hearing loss is temporary. Still, there are precautions one can take avoid swimmer’s ear. And for those who experience swimmer’s ear repeatedly, hearing aids can be an effective solution for temporary, mild-to-moderate hearing loss.

What are some symptoms of swimmer’s ear?

Swimmer’s ear is a non-uncommon condition where the ear gets infected, often from bacteria in water. Symptoms of swimmer’s ear include earache, temporary hearing loss, headache, congestion, swelling, etc. It’s not a visibly apparent infection such as a rash or pink-eye, but swimmer’s ear is real and it’s fairly common in the summertime (when humidity is present and/or people are perspiring more), as well as among swimmers or people traveling to beach locations year round. Don’t let swimmer’s ear become a bigger issue; if you experience symptoms, talk to your doctor and treat it ASAP.

How can I avoid swimmer’s ear?

Earplugs or custom molded ear protection are highly recommended. You can also drain water from the ears after swimming. Swimming in chlorinated or filtrated water can reduce the exposure to bacteria that causes swimmer’s ear and temporary hearing loss. Keep on swimming but take precaution to avoid / prevent swimmer’s ear.

Can I wear my hearing aid(s) in the pool / in water?

Although some hearing aids are water resistant, there is not much on the market at present in the way of a “waterproof hearing aid.” At NexGen, we do carry a device called Lyric, which is great – it’s professionally installed and sits in the ear canal for months at a time. Lyric is water resistant, but it is not waterproof; thus, like other hearing aids, it is not recommended for use when swimming, diving or participating in water activities.

Can I get swimmer’s ear without swimming?

It’s like the old dad joke, “how do you get athlete’s foot without even being an athlete?!” Swimmer’s ear is a condition wherein the ear canal gets infected. This infection most commonly stems from water-based bacteria. The water doesn’t have to be a pool, lake or ocean, though. Some people get swimmer’s ear without even swimming. Maybe they’ve been sweating in a warm environment. Maybe they’ve been in the shower. Or maybe they were just scratching their ear or inserting foreign objects in the ear. Bacteria are an odd lot, and they don’t have much respect for poetic licence. Swimmer’s ear can and does happen to many people who haven’t been swimming lately.

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