Swimmer's Ear

Swimmer’s Ear is a common condition that can affect those who swim often or anyone with open exposure to high levels of water, sand, dust or dirt. The condition, which is called otitis externa, is a fungal or bacterial infection of the outer ear canal that many refer to as an earache.

Symptoms & Causes

You might be suffering from this condition if you’re experiencing fever, difficulty hearing or itchiness near the ear, sharp pain in your neck, face or head, a full ear, or redness and swelling near the ear. You should contact your doctor as soon as possible at the sign of these symptoms.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Your doctor may look inside your ear canal to determine how badly your infection has progressed. The physician may then examine any discharged puss or fluid to determine whether the infection is fungal or bacterial. Your doctor could recommend antibiotic ear drops for up to two weeks. Vinegar ear drops might also be an option. A thorough in-office cleaning might also be required to make sure the drops can reach the infected area. Other treatments might include antibiotic prescription pills or pain killers like Tylenol or Advil. During your treatment your doctor might advise avoiding swimming or scuba diving, flying, wearing earplugs, hearing aids or headphones.

Prevention

Prevention is always the first and best line of defense. Use shower caps while swimming or bathing or dry your outer ears thoroughly afterwards using a soft towel. Using a blow-dryer from at least a foot away is another option. After swimming also try a homemade ear drop mixture of half white vinegar and half rubbing alcohol to keep the canal dry and at the right acidity level.

Further Reading

Mayo Clinic