Have you ever dived in the ocean or swimming pool? Ever brought an unwelcome souvenir from beach vacation which causes pain or discomfort? Evidently, the ear condition is called swimmers ear when the infection is caused by water in the ear canal. So, anyone might think that they can only get the infection if they swim in the ocean or the pool, but let’s face it, anyone can get it even on dry land. Having said that, a swimmer’s ear infection can be treated with a lot of options including home-remedies and OTC medications.
Swimmer’s ear, or otitis externa, the medical name of the infection in your ear canal. The canal runs from the outside hole of the ear to the eardrum and made up of 3 parts, inner ear, middle ear, and outer ear. Swimmer’s ear is somewhat different from the common ear infection, also, young kids often get the condition after a cold. The middle ear infections are called otitis media and mostly, they occur deeper in the ear, behind the eardrum.
Major symptoms of Swimmer’s Ear infection
One day after a swim, if you start to feel the symptom of swimmer’s ear, don’t just plan to treat the condition on your own. There are a lot of home remedies available for ear disorders, or illness of ears, but don’t take any treatment action before consulting with your doctor. Ears are very delicate parts and are not only responsible for hearing but also associated with balance.
In general, the swimmer’s ear infection is caused by bacteria but the indication of virus or fungal infections are not unheard of. Symptoms you may get are:
- Itchiness in the ear
- Pain, which can become severe
- Trouble hearing
- Fluid or pus draining out of the ear
Why do people get Swimmer’s ear infection?
Mostly, the self-defense mechanism of the ear fight off the bacteria or virus that cause swimmer’s ear on its own. We need to thank the earwax for the same as it is responsible for protecting the ear. Even though people still grossed-out by earwax, it helps defend the ear canal from damage and makes it hard for germs to develop. But if it scratches the skin, germs can get into the ear canal and cause an infection.
How does an ENT specialist treat the infection?
The treatments of swimmer’s ear only work well if your doctor gently cleans out any gunk that’s blocking your ear canals, such as fluid, dead skin, and extra wax. An ENT specialist may use hydrogen peroxide, a suction device, or a special tool called an ear curette. If you visit your GP, he may also want to make sure that your eardrum is healthy. If the eardrum is perforated, regular swimmer’s ear treatments may not work. A patient may require to see an ear, nose, and throat specialist for treatment.
Also Read: Ear infection map – inner, middle and outer!
Are eardrops helpful in external ear infection?
You’ll probably leave your doctor’s office with a prescription for eardrops to use at home. It’s the most common treatment. The eardrops fight the infection and help your ear heal. Depending on your situation, these drops might have:
- Antibiotics to kill bacteria
- Steroids to help with swelling
- Antifungal medicines, if your symptoms are caused by a fungus
- It’s harder for germs to grow if you use chemicals that restore balance to your ear canal
- Follow the bottle’s instructions for putting in the eardrops
Usually, you need to:
- Bend your head when you put the drops into your ear
- Stay in the same position for 3 to 5 minutes so the drops can sink in
- Use a cotton ball for your ear, and leave it there for at least 20 minutes
- Repeat this four times in a day, or as your doctor recommends
You may find it easier to have somebody in your family put in the drops for you. They’ll probably have better aim. If the drops cause discomfort, it can be because they’re cold, warm the bottle first by holding it in your hands.
What to do at home during treatment?
Once the treatment begins at home, it will probably take about a week before all the symptoms go away. In the meantime, you can take additional steps so you can feel better, make your treatment work.
- Use painkillers if you need them
- Over-the-counter acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen can help with the pain
- If they’re wont work, a doctor may give you other prescription painkillers
- Use the ear drops for as long as it says on the bottle
You may start feeling better after just a few days, but don’t stop early. If you do, the infection could come back. Keep your ears dry. You can gently put cotton balls coated when you shower adding petroleum jelly into your ears to keep out water. Also, don’t swim until your ENT specialist says it’s OK. The specialist may ask patients to wait for 7 to 10 days. Don’t use headphones as well as a hearing aid. Also, a patient may be asked to wait until he feels better before putting anything into the ear.
Protect your ears from chemicals in cosmetics. For some people, hair dyes, hairsprays, and products that can irritate the skin and cause swimmer’s ear are strictly forbidden. Experts advise stopping the usage of anything that could cause a problem or at least use cotton balls for ears. Call your ENT specialist if you’re not feeling better in 36 to 48 hours. You may require a different approach to get rid of the infection.
An advanced surgical solution of chronic Swimmer’s Ear
Most people can get the condition, swimmer’s ear, under control with just eardrops. But if the infection is more severe or has already spread, a patient may need an advanced daycare treatment. The treatment is also recommended when the ear canal is very swollen, it can block eardrops from getting far enough into your ear. If this happens with the chronic or severe condition, an ENT specialist might use Oral or IV antibiotics. If the infection is hard to treat, or it has spread to nearby tissue, cartilage, or, bone; a patient may need a more powerful antibiotic.If the infection is hard to treat, or it has spread to nearby tissue, cartilage, or, bone; a patient may need a more powerful antibiotic.
After the advanced treatment, patients start to feel better within a few days. If your symptoms last longer than a week or get worse, you need to call your doctor. When you’re well, take steps so you won’t get sick again or develop the condition. Use earplugs when you’re swimming, and carefully, dry your ears after they get wet. And don’t pick inside your ears, since that can cause swimmer’s ear. Above all, never stick anything in your ear.