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FAQs About Swimmer's Ear

If you or your child loves to swim, then at some point you or they may develop Swimmer’s ear, an outer ear infection that can lead to itching, redness, and pain. Of course, it can be challenging to differentiate Swimmer’s ear from other types of ear infections. An ENT doctor can happily answer any questions you may have regarding Swimmer’s ear.

What are the signs of Swimmer’s ear?

Since this infection impacts the outer ear canal, you’re more likely to experience,

  • Itchy skin, particularly inside the ear
  • Redness and swelling
  • Pain or pressure that gets worse when tugging on or pulling on the ear
  • Drainage from the ear

Symptoms associated with Swimmer’s ear are typically localized to the ear, as compared to middle ear infections, which may also lead to dizziness, nausea, or fever.

What Causes Swimmer’s ear?

Despite the name, you don’t have to be a swimmer to be at risk for developing this common ear infection. In fact, risk factors that can increase the likelihood of developing Swimmer’s ear include,

  • Living in warm, humid climates
  • Excess ear wax or ear wax buildup
  • Sustaining an injury to the ear canal
  • Dry skin within the ear canal

If you are someone who cleans out their ears with cotton swabs, you are also at great risk for Swimmer’s ear. Swimmer’s ear occurs when bacteria get inside the ear canal; therefore, trauma, cuts, or injuries to the ear can increase the risk for a bacterial infection. Hearing aids and headphones can also increase your risk for Swimmer’s ear if you don’t clean and disinfect these items regularly.

How is Swimmer’s ear treated?

Since Swimmer’s ear is due to bacteria, you’ll need to see a doctor for treatment. This type of ear infection will not go away on its own. Your ENT doctor can prescribe antibiotic ear drops that you’ll need to use daily for up to 10 days. You may also be prescribed pain medication or steroid ear drops to reduce swelling. It’s important to follow the instructions for each of these medications to ensure that the infection doesn’t return.

If you or your child is dealing with an ear infection that is causing significant pain, swelling, or changes in your hearing, it may be prudent to see an ENT doctor right away to find out the best course of action. After all, some ear infections will require antibiotics. Schedule your evaluation with an ear, nose, and throat doctor today.

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