Swimmer’s ear is considered an infection of the outer or external ear canal. It’s called Swimmer’s ear due to the main cause being frequently swimming in pools, oceans, or lakes. However, it can also be caused by foreign objects, cotton swabs, or certain medical conditions that damage the ear canal. Swimmer’s ear is caused by bacteria, which thrives in warm, moist environments.
AFC Urgent Care Stoneham is here to help diagnose and treat Swimmer’s ear. While mild cases may resolve themselves, more moderate cases may require antibiotics. Visit AFC Stoneham today for treatment for Swimmer’s ear or other ailments that aren’t life-threatening, or learn more about the patient services we provide.
Symptoms of Swimmer’s Ear
Symptoms will range in their severity. They commonly include pain in the ear, drainage, and redness of the ear. If discomfort gets worse as you tug on the outside of the ear, that is a typical sign of Swimmer’s ear. Additional symptoms may include itching, ear fullness, or a decrease in hearing. The pain may travel to the face and neck in more severe cases, and lymph nodes can be swollen.
Duration & Treatment Options
In most cases, Swimmer’s ear can last between seven to ten days if left untreated. In more severe cases, it may last a few weeks to months. Mild cases will resolve themselves, but due to the general discomfort of the infection, most patients want to seek treatment to alleviate their symptoms.
Most medical providers will clear the ear of any drainage or debris. Antibiotic ear drops combined with steroid ear drops can help clear up the infection and prevent swelling. OTC medications can help with the pain.
The best way to prevent Swimmer’s ear is by keeping the ears dry and clean. When swimming, try to wear earplugs to avoid infection. Avoid removing ear wax with cotton swabs, as this acts as a natural barrier to protect your ear canal and eardrum. In general, cotton swabs can cause damage to the canal that can cause or impact Swimmer’s ear.
Swimmer’s Ear vs. Middle Ear Infection
In children, it can be difficult to know whether or not they have Swimmer’s ear or a middle ear infection. The main difference is that a middle ear infection will not cause pain when tugging on the ear lobe or cartilage. They also do not cause redness on the outside of the year. Middle ear infections do not often happen randomly, and if your child has a history of them, they are more likely to happen. It’s important to understand the difference as treatment can be different depending on the infection.