Otitis Externa, popularly known as "swimmer's ear", is an inflammation or infection of the skin in the ear canal. Children who spend a lot of time with their heads under water often suffer from this condition, but it may strike anyone with moisture in their ear for a longer period of time. It is particularly common in humid tropical areas where the climate is conducive to bacterial growth and fungi.
Symptoms of Otitis Externa
The symptoms of Otitis Externa include pain and swelling in the ear canal. The ears feel plugged, and often there is a milky discharge from the ear. In severe cases, the pain grows sharp when swallowing or when moving the ear, and the hearing ability may be weakened. In such cases, it becomes extremely important to see a medical doctor as the Otitis Externa could develop into a chronic infection.
Otitis Externa occurs when water and humidity dissolve the protective earwax making the sensitive skin in the ear canal susceptible to bacteria and fungi.
Causes of Otitis Externa
The most common cause is swimming or bathing in dirty water, but extensive exposure in chlorinated water or the ill-advised use of cotton swabs causing the ear canal to dry out, may also lead to Otitis Externa.
To prevent Otitis Externa, make sure no water is left in the ear after coming out of the water. If necessary, dry the ear carefully with a towel or a hairdyer at the lowest power setting. Moisture should never be in your ears for longer periods of time. Children in particular should limit their stay in the water and take breaks of minimum one or two hours out of the water.
Otitis Externa may be particularly problematic for hearing aid wearers. A hearing aid closes up the ear contributing to potential infections. The condition may be alleviated by applying a layer of anti-allergenic surface cover.
Treatment of Otitis Externa
Otitis Externa may be prevented and treated with eardrops. In any event, it is advisable to seek help from your medical doctor.