An infection of the outer ear canal, which extends from your eardrum to the outside of your head, is known as swimmer’s ear. It’s frequently caused by water that stays in your ear, which fosters the growth of germs by creating a moist environment.
Swimmer’s ear can also result by sticking your fingers, cotton swabs, or other objects in your ears since doing so harms the delicate skin lining your ear canal.
Swimmer’s ear is characterized by the ear canal’s redness, ear pain, fluid drainage, and pus discharge. Surrounding tissue and bones may get infected if left untreated.
Otitis externa is another name for swimmer’s ear. Typically, eardrops can be used to treat swimmer’s ear. The prevention of complications and more severe infections can be aided by prompt treatment.
Symptoms of swimmer’s ear are typically modest at first, but if your infection is not treated or spreads, they could get worse. Swimmer’s ear is frequently divided into mild, moderate, and advanced phases of progression by doctors.
Mild signs and symptoms
- Mild pain that gets worse when you tug on your outer ear (pinna or auricle) or push on the tragus, the small “bump” in front of your ear.
- Ear canal itchiness
- Minimal redness in your ears
- Some discharge of odorless, clear fluid
Moderate signs and symptoms
- Increased pain
- Increased itchiness
- More degree of ear redness
- Reduced or muffled hearing
- A sensation of fullness in your ear and a partial obstruction of your ear canal due to fluid, swelling, and debris
Advanced signs and symptoms
- Your outer ear is swollen or red.
- Inflammation of your neck’s lymph nodes
- A severe pain that may radiate to your face, neck, or side of your head
- A total obstruction in the ear canal
If you experience even minor swimmer’s ear symptoms or signs, call your doctor right once. However, if you experience fever or severe pain, call your doctor immediately or go to the emergency department.
Swimmer’s ear is typically brought on by bacteria. The likelihood of a virus or fungus causing swimmer’s ear is lower.
Natural defenses of your ear
Natural defenses in your outer ear canals maintain them clean and guard against infection. Among the safeguards are:
- A thin, water-repellent, slightly acidic film lines the ear canal and prevents the formation of microorganisms. Earwax, also known as cerumen, is a buildup of this wax-like substance, along with dead skin cells and various debris, that migrates to the entrance of the ear canal in order to maintain its cleanliness.
- The outer ear, aids in preventing the entry of foreign objects, especially at the ear canal opening.
The occurrence of infection
Your natural defenses have been overwhelmed if you have swimmer’s ear. The following circumstances frequently contribute to infection:
- The ear canal’s moisture, which provides the perfect conditions for bacterial growth.
- Contact with tainted water
- Damage to the delicate skin of the ear canal, which can result in an entry point for infections.
The risk of swimmer’s ear can be raised by a number of factors, including:
- Being exposed to contaminated water with high amounts of bacteria
- Ear devices, that can cause minor skin breaches, such as earbuds or hearing aids
- Excessive moisture in your ear canal caused by profuse sweat, persistently humid conditions, or water left in your ears after swimming
- Cleaning the ear canal with hairpins, cotton swabs, or fingernails, which can result in abrasions or scrapes.