Despite its name, you do not have to be a swimmer to get a swimmer’s ear. It can also occur from damaging the thin layer of skin lining the ear canal by putting fingers, cotton swabs, or other objects in your ear. This condition can cause symptoms such as itching in the ear, redness and swelling, pain when the affected ear is pulled or touched, and potentially drainage of a clear or yellowish fluid.

blonde kid getting his ear looked at

What is swimmer’s ear?

Swimmer’s ear, referred to as otitis externa, is an ear infection in the outer ear canal. This condition often affects individuals who spend time in the water, such as swimmers, hence the name. However, it can affect anyone, not just swimmers. Swimmer’s ear typically develops when water becomes trapped in the ear canal, creating a moist environment where bacteria can thrive. This leads to an infection characterized by inflammation, redness, and discomfort in the ear.

Symptoms of swimmer’s ear

Swimmer’s ear is associated with a range of uncomfortable symptoms, including:

  • Ear pain: Swimmer’s ear often causes significant ear pain, ranging from mild discomfort to severe pain.
  • Itching: Itching in the ear canal is a common early symptom of swimmer’s ear.
    Redness and swelling: The ear canal may appear red and swollen due to the infection.
  • Drainage: Some individuals with swimmer’s ear may experience discharge from the ear, which can be pus-like.
  • Hearing changes: As the infection progresses, hearing may become temporarily impaired.
  • Tenderness: The ear can become sensitive to touch or pressure.
  • Jaw or neck pain: In some cases, swimmer’s ear may cause discomfort in the jaw or neck.
  • Dizziness: Feelings of dizziness
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Treatment for swimmer’s ear

If you suspect you have swimmer’s ear or experience any of the symptoms mentioned, it is important to seek prompt medical attention. Delaying treatment can lead to complications and increased discomfort. Treatment for swimmer’s ear typically involves:

Ear cleaning

An ENT specialist may need to clean the ear canal to remove debris, discharge, and any foreign objects.

Prescription medications

Antibiotic ear drops are often prescribed to combat the infection. In some cases, oral antibiotics may be necessary.

Pain relief

Over-the-counter pain relievers or prescription pain medication can help alleviate ear pain.

How can an ENT help with swimmer’s ear?

ENT specialists are highly trained in the diagnosis and treatment of ear conditions, including swimmer’s ear. They can provide expert care, including:

Accurate diagnosis

An ENT specialist can confirm the presence of swimmer’s ear and assess the severity of the infection.

Specialized treatment

ENTs are equipped to provide specific treatments for swimmer’s ear, ensuring an effective recovery.

Preventative guidance

ENTs can offer guidance on preventing swimmer’s ear and minimizing the risk of recurrence.

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Can swimmer’s ear become chronic?

Swimmer’s ear can become chronic. Chronic swimmer’s ear, or chronic otitis externa, is when the outer ear and ear canal become infected, swollen, or irritated on a long-term or recurring basis.

This typically occurs when swimmer’s ear does not resolve within three months. It can happen if you have hard-to-treat bacteria, a fungal infection, an allergic skin reaction, or if you have a mix of these issues.

In severe or unresponsive cases, an ENT may recommend more aggressive treatments such as oral antibiotics, topical antifungal medications, or even surgery in rare cases.

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Why choose Louisiana ENT Specialists for swimmer’s ear care?

Choosing Louisiana ENT Specialists for the management of swimmer’s ear means selecting a team of dedicated ENT specialists with a reputation for delivering high-quality medical and surgical care. With over 45 years of service and a network of over twenty-five physicians and specialists across six locations in Louisiana, Louisiana ENT Specialists prioritizes a patient-first philosophy.

We take the time to understand your unique needs and deliver personalized care to ensure your well-being. Do not let swimmer’s ear disrupt your life or cause unnecessary discomfort. Contact Louisiana ENT Specialists today to schedule an appointment and find relief from this condition. Our team is here to provide expert care and help you get back to enjoying life without ear pain and irritation.

With 6 convenient locations around the Louisiana area, we're never far away.

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