What I love about blogging is a lot like what I love about running: every time I take a break from it, I’m thrilled to come back. There’s never any sense of dread or annoyance. Instead I have the good fortune of thinking “Finally!” as I limber up my typing fingers or lace on my running shoes. Mmm. Running shoes.
I’ve got so many things I want to write about – the run I took to the library, the fact that I figured out that I must live running-buddy close to fellow blog/runner Jen after running into her twice in two days at the market, what I’ve learned from Ira Glass and RadioLab and Dan Savage these past few weeks, the sociology of attractiveness, finding joy in the YMCA…the works!
But imagine that all as a preview for coming attractions because today, we’re focusing on a summer-related topic: water in the ears.
Swimming regularly – and sometimes even bathing regularly – can lead to getting water in your ears. For the most part, it “ain’t no thang” (as the kids are saying these days). Water flows right back out of your ear, and you go about your merry way. Except…when it doesn’t.
Maybe you have waif-lie ear canals like me (seriously, I inherited abnormally large tonsils from Dr. Dad and tiny ear canals from my mom) or perhaps you’re just prone to ear issues. Either way, water in your ears is no bueno for a few reasons: first and foremost, it blocks your hearing of the outside world, and makes anything you say seem incredibly loud. Meaning you miss every fifth word being spoken, and at the same time are almost whispering because in your head you sound like a yelling yeti.
Worse than the hearing issue is that water in the ear might eventually lead to swimmer’s ear – a swelling of the ear canal that is painful and can lead to infection. Even non-swimmers get swimmer’s ear (using earbuds can cause this too), so you’re not off the hook if a body of water doesn’t zig your zag.
So what’s a waterbaby to do? For starters, dry your ears thoroughly. Mayo Clinic goes as far as to offer these pointers: “Dry only your outer ear, wiping it slowly and gently with a soft towel or cloth. Tip your head to the side to help water drain from your ear canal. You can dry your ears with a blow-dryer if you put it on the lowest setting and hold it at least a foot (0.3 meters) away from the ear.” Honestly though, a blow-dryer? That sounds like hearing loss waiting to happen. Pun totally intended.
If you do get water caught in your ears, and the above home-treatment doesn’t work, there’s more home treatment. This doctor is wearing a bow-tie, which makes me think he knows a thing or two about ears:
His wanna-be Garrison Keillor impression might not have enabled you to sit through his presentation, but what you need to know is you can use a home remedy involving vinegar, or special ear-drops to soften wax that might be blocking water and trapping it into your ear.
Finally, you might want to get a doctor (with or sans bow-tie) involved – they have this magic trick called ear irrigation. I get the pleasure of doing this every so often thanks to my inherited ear canals. Your doctor, or RN, or medical assistant dressed like a bumble bee if it’s Halloween, will have you hold a beaker up to your ear while they push warm water through your canal. If the wax is loose enough/soft enough, it will float out with the copious amounts of water in your container, and you can ooo and aaah over it .
Last but not least, I did once have to have a doctor use a pair of alligator forceps to pull a piece of wax out of my ear to unblock the water. Don’t try that at home, kids.
Of course, the best thing you can do to get water out of your ears is not get water stuck in your ears. But then you’d be some strange special super-human, and you’d miss out on the human experience.