Prevention and Treatment of Otitis Externa (Swimmer Ear)
When your ears hurt even the most mundane tasks can become unimaginable, all the mind can think about is ending the pain. Now, most adults are not susceptible to ear aches that are so frequent in childhood, but there is one ailment of the ear that is common at any age: otitis externa—swimmers ear.
What Otitis Externa?
Swimmers ear is, as you guessed it, a common problem for the more aquatically inclined. The most common cause is swimming in polluted water, but an obstructed ear canal and damage to ear canal tissue, excess ear wax, and numerous types of dermatitis of the ear can also lead create conditions that make acquiring swimmers ear more likely.
Symptoms of OE
Quintessentially, swimmers ear is an infection of the skin inside the ear, and since the ear is rich in nerves the pain can be quite severe. The symptoms of swimmers ear become more acute when the ear is touched and can at times be accompanied by discharge. Other symptoms include:
- redness of the ear
- itching sensation in the ear
- swollen glands in the neck, and around the ear
- swelling of the ear canal
- muffled hearing, or hearing loss
- full or plugged-up feeling of the ear
Prevention and Treatment of OE
Once swimmers ear has been diagnosed the most common treatments will resolve the infection in about 7-10 days. Treatments are generally antibiotic in nature, and consist mainly of drops and pain medication. To prevent the onset of swimmers ear use ear plugs whilst swimming, be gentle when cleaning the ear, and make sure to dry the ear to prevent the growth of bacteria.