Swimming and summer seem to go hand in hand. As soon as school lets out, the weather heats up and we all head to the pool. The summer season brings plenty of opportunities to get wet with it, whether that be by swimming in your own pool, a neighbor’s, the community pool or the one at the hotel. Going on vacation may give your children the opportunity to swim in a lake or river too.
While we are all very diligent about applying copious amounts of sunblock to protect our children’s skin, we may not devote as much time considering protecting their ears. While for many children earplugs may not be necessary, other children may be great candidates for earplugs to provide protection for sensitive ears, ears with tubes, or ears prone to infection.
When Should Your Child Wear Ear Plugs?
Ear plugs are a wonderful preventative measure to take if your child is in the water often, particularly if underwater swimming or diving is their thing. Some children may be more exposed to bacteria and trapped water in their ears if they often deal with the following circumstances:
Recurrent ear infections
Children who tend to have multiple middle ear infections (otitis media) in their early years may be more prone to developing more ear infections in the future. This may be due to poor drainage ability in their ears or sensitivity to bacteria. Earplugs will help keep water out of their ears so that an ear infection doesn’t result. It will also prevent aggravating an existing ear infection.
Swimmer’s ear, or otitis externa, occurs when water gets trapped in your ear after swimming, creating a perfect environment for the promotion of bacteria growth. If your child loves to swim but seems to always have water in their ears, you may want to consider ear plugs before otitis externa has the chance to occur.
Ear tubes are common among smaller children who have drainage issues due to the anatomical structure of children’s ear canals. Ear tubes are small cylinders that are placed through the eardrum to aid in drainage. Protecting ears with ear tubes is particularly important to prevent water and bacteria from entering those tubes and accessing the middle and inner ear. Custom ear plugs are the best choice for protection of little ones with ear tubes.
Choosing The Right Ear Plug
Ear plugs come as custom or one size fits all. Choosing the right earplug depends largely on your needs, your budget, and the frequency with which you’ll be using them.
Custom plugs are custom fit to each child’s ear, providing the surest protection from water and bacteria growth. If your child has ear tubes or especially sensitive ears, consider consulting a hearing health professional to have your child custom fitted.
Custom earplugs are reusable and washable. They are also more expensive than one size fits all drugstore models. So you may want to purchase an ear band to keep them from getting lost. Custom plugs will last as long as you need them, they are high quality, and they are very comfortable since they are made for your child’s ear specifically.
One Size Fits All Plugs
One size fits all plugs can be found at most drugstores for a reasonable price. These are a great choice if the family doesn’t go to the pool often, but you still want something to keep your child’s ear protected.
Some of these plugs are not washable, so they may be used a couple of times and then thrown away. Models made out of silicone are washable. One size fits all plugs are easy to put in, but are not going to fit as well as custom earplugs.