Swimmer’s ear is an infection of the external ear that gets exposed to surroundings. It is also termed as Otitis Externa and is usually caused by bacterial or fungal infection.
This condition is commonly seen in swimmers if the water remains in the ear and favors infection. It can also occur when fingers or sharp objects are put into the ears, causing damage to the ear lining, which promotes bacterial growth.
Some factors increase the risk of acquiring swimmer’s ear. These include contaminated water, dangerous ear cleaning or using certain hearing devices and narrow ear canal as in young children.
Swimmer’s ear often presents itself with itching or irritation in the ears. Sometimes pain and discomfort is noted, which may worsen on pulling the ear outwards. On examination, redness and fluid oozing out from the canal may be noted. Fever, reduced hearing or ear pain radiating to nearby areas may also be present.
Treatment often includes ear drops to reduce inflammation, pain and redness. Antibiotics are given to stop bacterial growth and antifungal medicines to fight fungal infection.
If swimmer’s ear is not treated in time, it can lead to certain undesirable consequences like long lasting ear infection, infection spreading to other tissues, damage to the ear cartilage and hearing problems.
How to prevent swimmer’s ear?
Maintain proper hygiene after bathing or swimming. Keep your ears dry and free from moisture. Protect your ears when using hair care products and avoid putting any objects into the ears. Read more about swimmer ear prevention.
Avoid swimming in contaminated waters. If you suffer from cold, middle ear infections or have undergone surgeries, it is better to consult your physician.
Written By: Dr. Snehal
Edited By: C. Soni