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Swimming and grommets.

Author(s): Cohen HA, Kauschansky A, Ashkenasi A, Bahir A, Frydman M, Horev Z

Affiliation(s): Ambulatory Pediatric Center, Petach Tiqwa, Israel.

Publication date & source: 1994-01, J Fam Pract., 38(1):30-2.

Publication type: Review

BACKGROUND. Traditionally, children with tympanostomy ventilating tubes, or grommets, were advised that water should not enter their ears in order to prevent ear infections. This group of children has been considered somewhat handicapped regarding swimming. We conducted a prospective study to determine if there is a relation between suppurative otitis media and surface swimming in children with grommets. METHODS. Forty-two children with tympanostomy ventilating tubes were included in this study. Of the 42 children, 22 were swimmers and 20 were nonswimmers, who served as the control group. The age range was 3 to 12 years, and there was no difference in the age distribution between the groups. Surface swimming was allowed without earplugs or a bathing cap, although it was mandatory to use polymyxin B-neomycin-hydrocortisone eardrops at bedtime on the day of swimming. No diving was allowed. RESULTS. Three of 22 swimmers and 2 of 20 nonswimmers developed otorrhea. In 4 of the 5 children, the otorrhea was followed by an upper respiratory tract infection. In all cases, a bacterial culture revealed Pseudomonas. The ear drainage was easily controlled with local otic treatment in all the patients. CONCLUSIONS. Taking into consideration the possible risks of infection and bearing in mind the value and joy of swimming to children and parents, families should be reassured that surface swimming does not increase the risk of infection in children with tympanostomy tubes.

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