My ears are sore and itchy af­ter swim­ming

Irish Daily Mail - - Good Health -

I took up swim­ming in an ef­fort to lose weight. Two months on down the road I’m lov­ing it — and I’m los­ing the bulge too! The prob­lem is that my ears have been giv­ing me a lot of grief since I started swim­ming. They are re­ally itchy and sore. What should I do?

Teresa, Co. Cork

SWIM­MING can cause a lot of prob­lems with ears. This is be­cause the wa­ter gets into the ear canal and can ir­ri­tate it. As pool wa­ter is used by oth­ers (it’s a caul­dron of com­mu­nal bugs!) if it gets in the ear, it can also po­ten­tially cre­ate an in­fec­tion in there.

If your ear is ir­ri­tated and you scratch the in­side this can also cause a pocket of in­fec­tion.

If the in­ner ear gets wet, the other thing that can grow in there is fun­gus — which loves dark, moist cav­i­ties.

Any of these sit­u­a­tions can re­sult in itch and ir­ri­ta­tion and even the sen­sa­tion that the ear is blocked. In fact, swim­mers are five times more likely to suf­fer from outer ear prob­lems, but that’s no rea­son to give up. In­stead, you can take some pre­cau­tions.

Firstly, pre­vent any soap or sham­poo get­ting in your ears when you bathe or shower. When washed, do not dry your ears with the cor­ner of the towel or clean them out with ear buds. By do­ing this, you are only en­cour­ag­ing in­fec­tion and ir­ri­ta­tion.

Wear a swim cap that cov­ers your ears — these aren’t the most fashionable gar­ments but they will re­ally help.

Ear plugs may be worn but be warned, these some­times ir­ri­tate the ear as well.

See your GP, who can pre­scribe some drops or spray for about five days, which will both calm down any ir­ri­ta­tion and kill off any in­fec­tion. Fi­nally, if at all pos­si­ble, don’t scratch the ear no mat­ter how itchy — it will only make mat­ters worse.

My big toe is ex­tremely stiff and painful. And when I move it at all, it seems to get in­flamed. It’s re­strict­ing my move­ment and its stop­ping me from get­ting about com­fort­ably. Should I just rest up or get it looked at? Jen­nifer, Co. Dublin

THERE is a con­di­tion called Hal­lux Rigidus, where the joint in the big toe be­comes stiff and in­flex­i­ble due to wear and tear. It may re­sult in you not be­ing able to move the toe up­wards or down­wards, with it be­ing lit­er­ally fixed. It’s not sur­pris­ing that this joint is un­der stress, as it has to bear twice your body weight when you mo­bilise.

The more weight you carry, the big­ger the bur­den for the big toe. This wear and tear can start as early as in your 20s.

It may also hap­pen later on in life and can be for no ap­par­ent rea­son, due to an in­her­ited trait , or as­so­ci­ated with flat feet.

The key with this con­di­tion is to di­ag­nose it and start treat­ing it early. My ad­vice would be to see a po­di­a­trist — these are peo­ple who spe­cialise in ev­ery­thing to do with the lower limb, from bunions to in­grown toe­nails.

They can make you de­vices (such as in­soles) to put in your shoes to im­prove the pain and take the strain off the toe.

They can also ad­vise you on adap­ta­tions to footwear and ap­pro­pri­ate shoes.

You need to take the pres­sure off the toe on a day-to-day ba­sis, be­cause you are not just us­ing it when you are mo­bile, this toe is on duty even if you are stand­ing still!

If you don’t have this looked at, what you will find is that you may start walk­ing in a way so as you avoid pain in the toe, so you would be chang­ing your gait.

Un­for­tu­nately in do­ing so, you may cre­ate ex­tra pres­sure on the ball of your foot. This would then re­sult in fur­ther pain else­where in the foot.

If any acute pain devel­ops, for ex­am­ple, it might hap­pen af­ter you have been walk­ing for a long time, anti-in­flam­ma­tory tablets can help to ease it.

An­other thing that would help with that kind of pain is ic­ing it and keep­ing it up for 20 min­utes or so. Mean­while, you can also pur­chase off-the-shelf in­soles from phar­ma­cies to trial while you wait for your po­di­a­try ap­point­ment. Good luck!

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