What is Swimmer’s Ear?
Swimmer’s ear is an infection of the ear canal. It is also called an outer ear infection or otitis externa. It is often caused by water remaining in the ear canal after swimming, which provides a moist environment for bacteria to grow. Swimmer’s ear most commonly occurs in children.
Swimming is not the only cause of an outer infection. Trauma to the ear canal from improperly using q-tips or inserting other objects into the ear can also cause otitis externa.
What are the Symptoms of Swimmer’s Ear?
The most common symptom is severe ear pain, especially when the ear is tugged. Other symptoms include drainage and pus from the ear, hearing loss, redness, and itching.
How Can Swimmer’s Ear be Prevented?
If you or your child are prone to swimmer’s ear, try to keep the ears as dry as possible. Use ear plugs or a cap when swimming.
After swimming or showering, use a towel to dry the ears. You can use a hair dryer at a low setting, and hold the dryer several inches away from the ear to help dry water from the ear canal.
Do not use q-tips or stick other objects in the ear, since this can actually cause swimmer’s ear.
If the eardrum is intact, you can use a 50/50 mix of vinegar and rubbing alcohol drops in the ear canal. Use an eye dropper to place several drops in the ear after swimming or showering. The vinegar and alcohol mix helps to keep a healthy and dry environment in the ear canal, which can prevent infection.
How is Swimmer’s Ear Treated?
Swimmer’s ear is treated with antibiotic drops if caused by a bacterial infection. Sometimes infections are caused by a fungal infection, which needs to be treated with antifungal medication. In more severe cases, your doctor will need to clean your ear and may need to place a wick in the ear to allow medication to go into your ear properly.
Call River ENT at (512) 677-6368 for more information or to schedule an appointment.