5 Signs Your Child Has Swimmer’s Ear

Many children would live in the swimming pool if given the option. Swimming is a wonderful summer activity—it can lead to hours of fun for the whole family, but that fun is really a whole body workout in disguise! If your family spends a lot of time in the pool, especially if you have an infant or young children, you’re likely well-versed on the ways to keep them safe in the water and around the pool area, such as children fences that provide a safe barrier.

However, there is something to keep an eye on the outside of the pool—swimmer’s ear. This painful condition can lead to further complications if it goes untreated, but your smaller children (like newborns) especially may not be able to voice exactly what is going on with them. Learn about some signs that may indicate your child has swimmer’s ear.

If you suspect your child has a swimmer’s ear, visit their doctor.

After reading through these signs, if you think your child, infant, or toddler may have a swimmer’s ear, schedule a visit with your pediatrician. They may recommend a visit to a pediatric audiology practice for a further examination so that they can take a look at your child’s ears, examine for any hearing loss, or potentially recommend putting in a cochlear implant or hearing aid. Untreated swimmer’s ear can potentially cause inner ear problems, affect your child’s hearing, or hinder their development of speech. Learn more about the common symptoms of this infection caused by water.

1. Check for your child pulling on their ear.

After a trip to the pool, if your child or toddler begins pulling on their ear or seems generally fussy, it means they could have gotten water in their ear which caused the swimmer’s ear.

2. A red or swollen ear could indicate an issue.

If their ear looks red or swollen, then they may have swimmer’s ear. The swollen, red color is a key sign of an infection that your doctor can easily confirm.

3. Visible discharge is another sign of swimmer’s ear.

Check their ears for any visible clear discharge coming out of them. If you see this discharge, it may be a sign of a swimmer’s ear that should be monitored.

4. Your child may experience pain when chewing and a full feeling in their ear.

Other signs could include the ear feeling like it is full or plugged up, which is due to the water inside the ear that caused the infection in the first place. Your child may also experience pains when they try to chew their food.

5. Itchy ears may be a sign of a beginning infection.

A beginning sign of this type of infection, itchiness in and around the ear may drive both your child and you crazy as they deal with the annoying feeling.

Swimmer’s Ear vs. Ear Infection


While both swimmer’s ear and ear infections may present with some similar symptoms, an ear infection affects the middle part of the ear while the swimmer’s ear is an infection of the ear canal. Generally, an ear infection will present with a fever, whereas that does not always occur with a swimmer’s ear. Swimmer’s ear can sometimes be safely treated at home, according to the St. Louis Children’s Hospital, but if you need peace of mind, always contact your child’s pediatrician who can quickly determine the source of the infection.

If your child ends up with repetitive ear issues, you could end up at an audiologist so they can work to determine the best route to solve these issues and hopefully prevent any further complications of the swimmer’s ear such as the treatment of hearing loss.