Otitis externa, commonly referred to as swimmer's ear, is a condition characterized by inflammation and redness of the ear canal. This affliction often arises from bacterial or fungal infections; however, it can also be instigated by skin conditions, allergies, compromised immune systems, narrow ear canals or exposure to chemicals. Below are essential details concerning otitis externa:
Symptoms of ear canal inflammation include:
- Ear pain
- Itching and irritation in and around your ear canal
- Redness and swelling of your outer ear and ear canal
- A feeling of pressure and fullness inside your ear
- Scaly skin in and around your ear canal, which may peel off
- Discharge from your ear, which can be either thin and watery or thick and pus-like
- Tenderness when you move your ear or jaw
- Swollen and sore glands in your throat
- Some hearing loss
Ear canal inflammation can typically be diagnosed by your physician through symptom description and examination. Utilizing an otoscope, a lighted instrument, the doctor will examine the ears, throat, and nasal passage. A stethoscope may also be used to listen to breathing patterns. The pneumatic otoscope is often sufficient in diagnosing ear infections as it allows for visualization of the ear and assessment of fluid buildup behind the eardrum.
Treatment for inflammation of the ear canal is contingent upon the underlying cause and severity of the condition. For instances that are mild, a physician may recommend watchful waiting or delayed antibiotic prescribing. In more severe cases, treatment may involve prescription antibiotic ear drops, analgesics, or other medicinal interventions. Maintaining cleanliness in the outer ear canal is crucial to ensuring effective delivery of eardrops to all affected areas. Physicians will employ either a suction device or an ear curette to eliminate discharge, clumps of wax buildup, flaky skin deposits and other debris from this area. In certain circumstances where fluid drainage proves problematical, physicians may advise surgery involving placement of small metal or plastic tubes within the ear canal as a resolution strategy .
To mitigate the risk of ear canal inflammation, prioritize maintaining your own and others' overall health. Ensure you are current on vaccinations, including an annual flu vaccine. The pneumococcal vaccine can safeguard against Streptococcus pneumoniae, a prevalent cause of middle ear infections. Strive to keep ears as moisture-free as possible by thoroughly drying them after swimming or showering with a towel. It is not advisable to use Q-tips for cleaning the ears; additionally, it's essential to avoid contact between unclean objects and your mouth.
If you or your child finish your course of antibiotics, but it seems like the ear infection hasn’t gone away, make an appointment with your doctor. They’ll help figure out what’s going on and what to do next.
Remember to consult your doctor if you experience any symptoms of ear canal inflammation.