What are swimming earplugs?

Swimming earplugs are earplugs designed to keep water out of the ear, allowing people to swim or participate in other water sports without water getting into their ears. Earplugs are highly recommended for swimming, especially for frequent swimmers, as swimmers are at risk of developing ear infections as a result of frequent irritation with water. Infections that arise as a result of swimming are aptly known as "swimmer's ear" and can be painful and uncomfortable. In addition, repeated infections can contribute to hearing loss, which is highly undesirable.

Various materials can be used for earplugs, including silicone, rubber, and foam. Some swimmers like to wear wax earplugs, but this is not recommended as wax is very sensitive to heat and can melt in the ear. All earplugs are designed to fit snugly into the ear canal, creating a seal so water cannot pass through the plug. When purchasing swimming earplugs, it is important to confirm that they are specifically labeled for use in swimming.

Earplugs are generally reusable, but precautions must be taken when reusing earplugs. Reusable earplugs should never be shared with others and should be cleaned with alcohol or other cleaning fluid after use. After two weeks of use, they must be discarded. Many swimming supply companies sell large containers of earplugs at an affordable cost, so there's no reason to reuse old earplugs.

Caution should also be used when inserting and removing earplugs. Most earplugs are inserted by rolling the plug around the fingers so that it is flat and narrow, and then it is carefully inserted into the ear and held there for a moment while it swells, filling the ear canal. When earplugs are removed, they should not be pulled out of the ear as this can cause hearing damage. Instead, one side should be gently pulled down to allow air to enter the ear, breaking the seal and allowing the plug to fall out.

If a swimmer's ears are infected or irritated, it's a good idea to stay out of the water, even with earplugs, because water can exacerbate the infection. Wearing earplugs for swimming on every visit to the water will greatly reduce the risk of infection, especially if the earplugs are cleaned and replaced regularly, which means less swimming time will be lost as a result of ear infections.

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