Pros: Completely eliminated repeated bouts of Swimmer's Ear, inexpensive, easy to use
If youve ever had a swimmer in the family, youve probably heard the words, Swimmers Ear. Heard them and heard them and heard them some more. One of our progeny seems more prone to this particular nuisance than his other fish-like comrades and we found ourselves wrapped in an endless cycle of earaches and antibiotics. Clearly, something needed to be done. His pain was interfering with my computer time.
What are you talking about?
Swimmers Ear. And ear drops. But first, Swimmers Ear, which is a sometimes quite painful infection of the outer ear. Unlike its cousin the middle ear infection, this one does not affect the middle ear or cause fluid build-up or pressure. It is directly related to the damp conditions present in the outer ear canals of swimmers the world over and the pain is caused by the irritation and infection of the tissue in the ear canal. Competitive swimmers often suffer the affliction regularly due to their tendency to spend hours each day soaking their tender ears in a chlorinated bath. Symptoms of Swimmers Ear include redness, pain and particularly pain when the ear is tugged back. The recommended treatment for Swimmers Ear is a course of antibiotic ear drops, which in our case can take several days (or more, depending on how bad juniornocket let it get before telling us) to begin alleviating pain and about ten days to clear the infection.
So what to do? Even after he started letting us know at the first sign of pain, we were in for a complete ten day ordeal, with maybe a week or two off before the next round. The infections really were painful and we were beginning to think our son would be spending the rest of his life with his head tipped to one side while his ear drops drained. That is, until we discovered the glory that is Star Otic Ear Drying Aid. It just so happens that the school nurse is also the parent of swimmers and she clued me in on this fabulous preventive product.
Achieving dry ear
So heres the deal. What we needed was something to keep that ear canal from staying all damp and conducive to ugly little colonies of bacteria. There are plenty of other ear drying products out there, containing alcohol to dry the canal, but we wanted more. As usual, I just had to be difficult. And the thing that makes Star Otic stand out in the high profile, heated and competitive world of ear drying aids is its second active ingredient glycerin. Star Otic contains a total of two ingredients. Its 95% isopropyl alcohol and 5% anhydrous glycerin. 5% is all I need.
The alcohol is the primary drying agent. But the swimmers parent grapevine told us that if we really wanted to protect against repeated bouts of Swimmers Ear, we needed something more in that ear canal than a drying agent. Thats where the glycerin comes in it provides some measure of protection against irritation and dampness.
So you say, what do they say?
Star Otic recommends applying 4-5 drops in each affected ear (in our case, both) after swimming, showering, bathing and washing hair. They also recommend keeping the product away from fire and flame and away from children. The drops sit in the ear for a few minutes and then Junior tips his head and lets them drain. They do not smell or cause him pain. You should use care when applying so as not to touch the tip of the dropper to the ear, which can potentially transfer random bacteria into the drops (which would pretty much defeat the whole purpose). The tip is narrow and tapered so this isnt a problem.
You cant follow directions, can you?
In our circumstances, we discovered that a slight modification to those instructions gave us the best results. Placing the drops in our sons ears before a swim meet is crucial. The constant in-and-out of the water seems to bring on Swimmers Ear like nothing else. Using the drops again after the meet helps his ears dry out and soothes any potential irritation. On a regular basis, we now use Star Otic drops at the first sign of any pain. Weve finally trained the child to tell us if he has even the faintest twinge in either ear, in which case we bring on the drops for a few days at bedtime. We havent found that using them before or after bathing or hair washing makes a difference.
Fine, have it your way, but do they work?
Our swimmer had his first case of Swimmers Ear last summer. He then had more or less non-stop infections after he started the fall swim season. Since starting the Star Otic drops in November, he has had a total of zero cases of Swimmers Ear. Zero. No matter how many nights a week he practices, or how many meets he swims zero infections. You could definitely say were pleased with this product and plan to continue using it until he stops feeling the need to soak his head.
You still arent using them right.
We do not use the drops as directed, thats absolutely true. But we did check with his physician, who approved of our plan. Though the drops are sold over the counter, dealing with ears and infections needs a physicians input at our house. Our results have reinforced the decision to use both before and after periods of prolonged ear canal dampness (aka endless swim meets) and as a preventive measure at the first suspected hint of a symptom. These drops are not made to treat an existing infection they are not antibiotics. They dry and soothe and in our case do a fantastic job of preventing Swimmers Ear, but if we do end up with another full blown bout, it will be back to the doctor for antibiotic drops.
We have been enormously pleased and impressed with Star Otic Ear Drying Aid Ear Drops. Our one ounce bottle has lasted about six months and will need to be replaced soon. For about four bucks, this simple product has completely eliminated bouts of Swimmers Ear and saved our son pain, saved us worry, increased the number of days he can train (and go to school and eat meals and just exist) pain free and lessened our dependence on antibiotics. If Swimmers Ear is a problem in your house, check with your doctor - Star Otic might be as effective for you as it has been for us. Highly recommended.
Thanks to bops_mom for adding these drops to the database!