Swimmer's ear causes about 2.4 million trips to doctors and hospitals in a year, according to the first national estimates of the ailment. And that translates into big bucks: The CDC says the cases amounted to about $500 million in annual medical costs—or roughly $200 per visit. Some people get the problem repeatedly, but according to calculations by the AP based on CDC statistics, more than 2 million individuals get it.
Swimmer's ear is an itchy, painful, outer-ear infection that can occur when bacteria in swimming water get through breaks in the skin. It's commonly treated with antibiotic ear drops. More than half the cases were in adults. (Read more Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stories.)