If water gets in your ears you are at risk of infection, eardrum damage, equilibrium issues and pain. Swim plugs help the swimmer avoid injury and infection because any pool or body of water may have toxic bacteria that can find its way into the ear canal. Children are particularly at risk, especially since they are prone to childhood ear infections.
Fortunately, Dr. Spinuzza has a great deal of experience in this area. She has worked extensively with children, teens and adults in creating custom ear plugs for those who swim either competitively or recreationally.
Benefits of earplugs for swimming
Protecting your ears from bacteria is always important. The benefits of custom earplugs include:
- Avoid disease and injury
- Protect damaged eardrums
- Avoid "water in the ear" that may take hours to disappear
- Swim undistracted and focused during competitive events
How to choose your swim plugs
Many ready-made swim plugs are available on the market, but you need to choose right, based upon how often they will be used. The type chosen should be appropriate for you or your child, whether a one-time vacation, professional swimming or diving, water polo, a backyard pool, ocean, rivers or lakes.
- Silicone putty. If you are a casual swimmer or for children, we advise a silicone putty that can be instantly molded to the ear and can be reused several times. They are soft and comfortable, one size fits all, and hold very well when wet. These plugs block out most sound when in place and they may lose their grip if contaminated with sunscreen lotions.
- Soft flanged ear plugs. These plugs are a series of soft flanges that are inserted into the ear canal. The stem is then twisted, which creates an airlock and prevents water from getting into the inner ear. These can last a long time if regularly cleaned.
The most watertight plugs will also provide the highest level of sound-blocking. All swim plugs vary in the degree of noise blocking. Earplugs establish their degree of water tightness once they are in water, so you should try different types before settling on one model.
There are some types of plugs that allow some amount of sound to pass through, but they are usually less water-resistant. These devices require more frequent adjustment if you are in the water for extended periods of time.