Those who suffer from an ear infection and listen to music using in-ear headphones should put each ear plug into the same ear to prevent the infection from spreading, warned the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG), an independent scientific body based in Cologne, DPA reported.
Ear plugs used to deaden noise or keep out water during swimming should always be put into the same ear, too, said the group, which noted that anything inserted into the ear could cause a bacterial or fungal infection.
Ear plugs should be soft and well-fitting. Swimmers wanting to protect their ears from water would do better by wearing a swimming cap, the IQWiG advised. To remove water that has entered the auditory canal, the group recommends tilting the head to the side with the affected ear and hopping a little until the water drains out.
For music lovers, headphones that rest on the ears or enclose them are better than those worn in the ears, the IQWiG said. It also warned against the use of cotton buds in the ears.
An ear infection often causes an inflammation in the external auditory canal. The most effective remedy is prescription ear drops with antibiotics and cortisone, the IQWiG said, citing a review by the Cochrane Collaboration, an international nonprofit organization that evaluated 19 pertinent studies with a total of 3,400 participants.