Swimmer’s Ear, or otitis externa as known by the medical community, is a common outer ear condition that results from infection, irritation, or inflammation. One may acquire this condition if moisture is trapped in his or her ear, as it cultivates a habitat conducive for harmful bacteria. This is a common happenstance among swimmers, hence the name.
Pools aren’t the only possible source, however, and swimmers aren’t the only ones that can be affected. Children and teenagers are also susceptible to Swimmer’s Ear and it can also be acquired from bathtubs, polluted water, hair sprays, hair dyes, and from cuts and other damages caused to the ear (usually by cotton swab misuse).
The symptoms of Swimmer’s Ear include, but are not limited to a fever, redness, a sensation of clogged or blocked ears, severe pain that may reach as far as the neck, and swollen lymph nodes. This condition should be treated as soon as possible in order to avoid the following complications:
Swimmer’s Ear usually includes a degree of hearing loss. This is because of how the fluid from the infection blocks the sound that passes through the ear canal. A person suffering from Swimmer’s Ear may feel that, in conjunction with a blocked or clogged sensation, the sound he or she is hearing is distorted or muffled.
The hearing loss is commonly temporary, but in some cases it is permanent which is why if you or your child is experiencing Swimmer’s Ear, it’s best to do something about it right away.
In the case of a viral infection where the cochlea, or the main organ for hearing, is affected, upper respiratory infections such as influenza may also be experienced.
Chronic Ear Infections
Sometimes the infections will be recurring over a couple months or a similarly long period of time and will usually be more severe. This will then be considered Chronic Otitis Externa. Those more at risk are usually the ones that are susceptible to rare strains of bacteria and have skin allergies or allergies to ear drops.
Bone and Cartilage Damage
Perhaps the worst complication that can stem from Swimmer’s Ear is what is known as Necrotizing Otitis Externa. This refers to bone and cartilage damage caused by the infections that have spread. Most of those who experience this are the elderly and people who, aside from contracting Swimmer’s Ear, have a pre-existing medical condition such as diabetes.
Swimmer’s Ear is a common condition that can be remedied easily by antibiotics. However, it must not be taken lightly especially with complications that can possibly follow. With the summer season upon us, keep a wary eye out since beaches and pools will inevitably be frequented places. For more information on how to avoid Swimmer’s Ear, call Beltone DFW at (888) 958-8432.