Do you know the condition “swimmer’s ear?” Also called otitis externa, this type of ear infection occurs in the ear canal. Since the ear canal is dark, warm, and can hold water, it’s a suitable environment for bacteria and fungus to grow.
Why Is it Called Swimmer’s Ear
Swimmers and people constantly exposing their ears to water are more likely to get this infection. Also, it is more common when the water is contaminated with bacteria and fungi.
Symptoms of Swimmers Ear
There are several common symptoms of the infection. These include:
- Swelling and inflammation in the ear canal
- Discharge from the ear
- Pain in the ear
- Reduced hearing
- Repeated ear infections
- Water gets stuck in the ear
- Hearing loss
- Tenderness in the ear
Causes of Swimmer’s Ear
Several causes may lead to swimmer’s ear. Some of them are:
Loss of Ear Wax
Excess water exposure can cause the skin in the ear canal to dry. This makes it hard for earwax to reach the outside of the ear. When this happens, the body needs to push more earwax towards the outside of the ear, which can cause the ear canal to become clogged.
Injury to the ear caused by putting things to it may also cause swimmer’s ear.
Swimming in Dirty Water
Swimming in dirty water or areas with high levels of bacteria and fungi can increase the risk of getting swimmer’s ear.
Treatment for Swimmer’s Ear
Since swimmer’s ear is an ear infection, it’ll require antibiotic treatment from your doctor. They may prescribe an antibiotic to treat both the ear infection and the pain. If the infection is severe, an oral antibiotic may be prescribed.
In most cases, antibiotics clear the infection in about a week. But, you must continue to use ear drops for several days after you stop taking antibiotics. Your doctor may also recommend warm compresses on the infected ear to reduce pain and swelling.
Prevention of Swimmer’s Ear
Several things can help you prevent swimmer’s ear. Here are some:
Keep Your Ears Dry As Much As Possible
Excessive water exposure can lead to an ear infection. To avoid getting it, you must keep your ears dry as much as possible. Use a towel to dry your ears after getting out of the water.
Don’t Put Anything Into Your Ear Canal
You should avoid putting anything into your ear canal. This includes Q-tips, cotton swabs, fingers, and any other small objects. Earwax is naturally produced in your ears. It will keep your ears clean. Trying to remove it can cause it to push back into your ear canal. It can also cause punctures, which may lead to infections.
Use Ear Plugs
Using earplugs can help keep water out of your ear canal. If you have to go swimming, use ear plugs to keep enough water out of your ears.
Although swimmer’s ear is very common, it’s possible to prevent it. As much as possible, avoid exposing your ear to water for long periods of time. Most importantly, keep your ear canal dry.
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