SWIMMER’S EAR, A COMMON PEDIATRIC EAR INFECTION

drkmh SWIMMER’S EAR, A COMMON PEDIATRIC EAR INFECTION

 

Rubbing the ears vigorously with a towel can damage the ear canal which increases risk of infection.

Don’t let the name deceive you. One could develop Swimmer’s Ear without even stepping into the swimming pool! Wetness is the culprit here and that happens even during a regular bath.

 

WHAT IS SWIMMER’S EAR?

 

When water stays in the ear after a long swim or shower, it gives room to the growth of bacteria or fungi in the ear canal. This causes pain, irritation and even inflammation. This condition is called Swimmer’s Ear. It is a type of outer ear infection (otitis externa) that occurs in the outer opening of the ear and the ear canal which connects the outside of the ear to the eardrum. It’s more common amongst children, but adults can acquire the condition as well. It can be treated with ear drops and will clear up in about ten days.

 

WHO IS AT GREATER RISK OF SWIMMER’S EAR?

 

Children who

  • go swimming regularly.
  • use a bath tub to wash-up.
  • live in humid conditions
  • do not remove excess water from the ear after a swim/bath
  • use hearing aids or ear-plugs without drying their ears.

Besides lingering moisture in the ear there are other conditions that can also lead to Swimmer’s Ear. Such conditions include:

  • Existing ear infection
  • Injury to the ear canal
  • Eczema, Dermatitis
  • Inserting foreign objects into the ear canal

Gently wiping the ears dry after a bath or swim is the best way to steer clear of Swimmer’s Ear. Rubbing the ears vigorously with a towel can damage the ear canal which increases risk of infection. Using a cotton swab can also cause injury to the external canal.

 

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF SWIMMER’S EAR?

  • Ear ache, especially when touching the ear lobe
  • Itching in the ear
  • Swollen, reddened external ear canal
  • Muffled hearing
  • Blocked ears
  • Moist wet feeling in the ear
  • Swollen throat glands

DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT

 

Ear ache is one of the most painful experiences anyone can go through. If your child complains of persistent ear ache and you notice swelling or infection in the ear, it’s best to head to the doctor immediately. The doctor will use an otoscope to inspect the hurting ear with an otoscope. This gives him a closer view of the infection and also helps detect the extent of the infection – if it has spread to the middle ear. Based on the symptoms, severity of the infection and general health of your child the ENT doctor will prescribe antibiotic ear-drops and pain medicine. If left untreated Swimmer’s Ear can cause:

  • Temporary hearing loss from swollen ear canal
  • Infection of the tissue around the ear
  • Spreading of infection from ear to the bones of the skull
  • Recurring Ear infections

Reviewed By:

Dr.RAJESHWARI.N

CHIEF CONSULTANT – PEDIATRICS

MBBS, DCH, MD (PEDIATRICS), PGD (DEVELOPMENT NEUROLOGY)

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