What Is Swimmer’s Ear?

✓ Evidence Based
Noel Cullen

Noel Cullen

Senior Hearing Aid Audiologist at Hidden Hearing
Noel Cullen has been the Senior Hearing Aid Audiologist in Abbey Street for 21 years. During this time Noel has cared for and successfully helped thousands of people with mild, moderate and profound hearing problems. Noel also has experience helping those with tinnitus, vertigo and others with medical related hearing loss.As a fully qualified fellowship member of both the British and the Irish Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists, he has years of advanced training both locally and nationally.

His knowledge in communication disorders has helped a wide range of patients, including both adults and children with hearing loss. He provides screenings, hearing tests, aural rehabilitation and has an extensive knowledge of both conventional and digital hearing instruments.

Find Out More About Noel

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If you’re a swimmer, you will probably be aware that swimmer’s ear, or otitis externa, is a painful and frustrating condition. It is defined as an infection of the outer ear canal, between the outer ear and the eardrum. It is a bacterial infection that affects the skin of the ear canal, as a result of moisture that has got into the outer ear area.

Swimmer’s ear can, if untreated, lead to hearing loss. This means that it is very important to treat it quickly and to prevent it happening again. It is, as the name suggests, most common in those who do a lot of swimming. However, there are other causes of the condition, including the use of cotton buds in the ear canal, hair dye or spray, injury or skin infection such as eczema in the ear canal, and exposure to high levels of bacteria in hot tubs or polluted water.

Symptoms Of Swimmer’s Ear:

Recognising the symptoms of swimmer’s ear can help you to prevent a delay in seeking help. These include:

•    Itching in the ear canal
•    Pain that worsens when the outer ear is touched
•    A feeling of swelling
•    Discharge that is colourless, whether or not it has an odour
•    Fever
•    Difficulties with hearing
•    Swelling or inflammation around the ear
•    Pain in the ear or the face, head or neck

If treated, swimmer’s ear usually resolves quickly. However, it is progresses, or is untreated, it can be very painful and could cause complications, including hearing loss or damage to the bone or cartilage, especially if the sufferer is elderly or immunocompromised.

How To Treat And Prevent Swimmer’s Ear

Swimmer’s ear is treated with antibiotic eardrops, as long as there is no perforation of the eardrum, and the affected area may be cleaned as well. The infection should improve within 3-4 days, and further medications will be considered if it does not.

Taking steps to prevent swimmer’s ear is especially important if you are prone to the infection. Try the following:

1.    Ensure ears are dry after swimming. Ensure that water is tipped out of both ears and dry with a towel or tissue.

2.    Prevent water entering the ears. Barriers such as earplugs can work well to prevent swimmer’s ear by stopping the water getting into the ears. Custom molded options are popular with people who swim a lot.

3.    Be aware of earwax. If earwax builds up, it can cause a blockage in the ears that makes infection more likely. Do not use cotton buds, but see a professional for an ear wax removal procedure.

4.    Be aware of any dry or cracked skin. If you have painful or cracked skin in your ears, you should see a professional to resolve this. It is best not to swim if you have a problem of this type.

5.    Take care with chemicals. When you are using hair spray, dye or other chemicals, you should ensure that none enters your ears.

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Summary
What Is Swimmer's Ear?
Article Name
What Is Swimmer's Ear?
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Swimmer’s ear can, if untreated, lead to hearing loss. This means that it is very important to treat it quickly and to prevent it happening again.
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Hidden Hearing
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This entry was posted in ear wax removal, Hearing Aids, Hearing Loss and tagged on by .
Noel Cullen

About Noel Cullen

Noel Cullen has been the Senior Hearing Aid Audiologist in Abbey Street for 21 years. During this time Noel has cared for and successfully helped thousands of people with mild, moderate and profound hearing problems. Noel also has experience helping those with tinnitus, vertigo and others with medical related hearing loss. As a fully qualified fellowship member of both the British and the Irish Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists, he has years of advanced training both locally and nationally. His knowledge in communication disorders has helped a wide range of patients, including both adults and children with hearing loss. He provides screenings, hearing tests, aural rehabilitation and has an extensive knowledge of both conventional and digital hearing instruments. Find Out More About Noel

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