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Swimmer Ear:- Symptom, Cause, Diagnosis, Treatment, Cure, Prevention, Complication, General Home Care and Home Remedy for Swimmer Ear

Swimmer's Ear (ear ache) is an infection of the ear and/or outer ear canal. It can cause the ear to itch or become red and inflamed so that head movement or touching of the ear is very painful. There may also be pus that drains from the ear.

Swimmer Ear Symptom

The most common symptoms of swimmer's ear are mild to moderate pain that is aggravated by tugging on the auricle and an itchy ear. Other symptoms may include any of the following:

Sensation that the ear is blocked or full



Decreased hearing

Intense pain that may radiate to the neck, face, or side of the head

The outer ear may appear to be pushed forward or away from the skull

Swollen lymph nodes

Swimmer Ear Cause

Some of the causes and risk factors include:

Water - dirty water can deliver bacteria to the ear canal. A wet ear canal is also prone to dermatitis. Tiny cracks or splits in the skin can allow bacteria to enter.

Mechanical damage - attempts to clean the ears using fingernails, cotton buds or other objects may cut the delicate tissues of the ear canal and lead to infection.

Chemical irritation - hairsprays, shampoos and hair dyes may get into the ear canal and irritate the tissues.

Middle ear infection - an infection within the middle ear can trigger an infection or inflammation in the ear canal.

Diabetes - this condition can make earwax too alkaline, which creates a more hospitable environment for infectious agents.

Folliculitis - an infected hair follicle within the ear canal can trigger a generalized infection.

Narrow ear canals - some people's ear canals are narrower than usual. This means that water can't drain as effectively.

Swimmer Ear Diagnosis

To examine the inside of your ear, your doctor may use a lighted instrument .The inside of your ear and your ear canal may appear red and swollen. Your ear canal also may appear scaly, with flaking skin. If you have drainage from your ear, your doctor may culture a sample to determine if the cause of the infection is bacteria or fungi.

Swimmer Ear Treatment / Cure

The goal of treatment is to cure the infection. The ear canal should be cleaned of drainage to allow topical medications to work effectively.

Effective medications include eardrops containing antibiotics to fight infection, and corticosteroids to reduce itching and inflammation. Eardrops should be used abundantly (four or five drops at a time) in order to penetrate the end of the ear canal. If the ear canal is very swollen, a wick may be applied in the ear to allow the drops to travel to the end of the canal.

Occasionally, pills may be used in addition to the topical medications. Analgesics may be used if pain is severe. Putting something warm against the ears may reduce pain.

Protect ears from further damage. Do not scratch the ears or insert cotton swabs or other objects in the ears. Keep ears clean and dry, and do not let water enter the ears when showering, shampooing, or bathing.

Swimmer Ear Prevention

In most cases, it is best to leave your ears alone and let them maintain their own healthy, natural balance.

Do not scratch or clean the inside of the ear with cotton swabs, bobby pins, your fingernail, or other objects.

Avoid prolonged use of earplugs. Both cotton swabs and earplugs can cause irritation, itching, and plug the ear with wax.

Keep soap, bubble bath, and shampoo out of the ear canal. These products can cause itching and irritation.

Keep your ears dry.

After swimming or showering, shake your head to remove water from the ear canal.

Gently dry your ears with the corner of a tissue or towel, or use a blow dryer on its lowest setting. Hold the dryer several inches (centimeters) from the ear.

Put a few drops of rubbing alcohol or rubbing alcohol mixed with an equal amount of white vinegar into the ear after swimming or showering.

You can also use nonprescription drops, to prevent swimmer's ear.

If you use public swimming pools or hot tubs, ask about the chlorine and pH testing of the pool. You are less likely to get swimmer's ear from facilities that maintain good control of their pool testing and treatment.

Do not swim in dirty water or locations that have been closed because of pollution.

Swimmer Ear Complication

Swimmer's ear usually isn't serious, but complications can occur if it isn't treated. Complications may include:

Hearing loss. Muffled hearing almost always lasts only until the infection is gone.

Recurrent outer ear infections (chronic otitis externa). Swimmer's ear may not respond to treatment or may keep coming back in some people. This can lead to infection in the surrounding skin (cellulitis).

Bone and cartilage damage (malignant otitis externa). An outer ear infection that spreads can cause inflammation and damage to the bones and cartilage at the base of your skull, often causing increasingly severe pain. Older adults and people with diabetes are at increased risk. Despite its name, this condition has nothing to do with cancer (malignancy).

More widespread infection. If swimmer's ear develops into malignant otitis externa, the infection also may spread and affect other parts of your body, such as the brain or cranial nerves

Home Remedy for Swimmer Ear

Rubbing alcohol not only kills germs but causes water trapped in the ear to evaporate. See the remedies below under vinegar.

Apple cider vinegar If you notice water stopping up your ears, put three or four drops, diluted in equal parts with water or alcohol, in your ear after showering or swimming. This is a good preventive measure against future infection.

Hair dryer Use the warm (never hot!) setting of your hair dryer and place it about an arm's length from the ear and slowly move it back and forth. Test it on your wrist after it has been running a while before using it on the ear. The warm air will evaporate any trapped water.

Vinegar (distilled white) Put 2-3 drops of full strength white vinegar into the ear every two hours. This will be effective against any bacterial or fungal infection.

General Home Care

Even if you are battling swimmer's ear, you can keep on swimming. Swim on the surface of the water. It allows less water in the ear than when you break the surface.

Use a painkiller as a temporary measure. If your ear hurts (indicating an infection), an over-the-counter painkiller such as aspirin or acetaminophen will tide you over until you can see the doctor.

Eliminate the moisture in your ears; every time you get them wet, whether or not you suspect an infection. Pull the flap of your ear up and out to straighten the ear canal and aim your hair dryer into your ear from 18 to 20 inches away. Use either a warm or cool setting, but let the dryer blow for 30 seconds. That will dry the ear, eliminating the moist conditions bacteria and fungi find most attractive for growth.

Warmth-a towel fresh from the dryer, a covered hot-water bottle, a heating pad set on low-also will help ease the pain.

Since the irritation of swimmer's ear wears away earwax, you can manufacture your own version using petroleum jelly. Moisten a cotton ball with the jelly, like a plug, just in the edge of your ear. It will absorb any moisture, keeping your ear warm and dry.

Take a drop. Several fluids are great for killing germs and drying your ears at the same time. If you're susceptible to swimmer's ear or if you spend a lot of time in the water, you should use a drying agent every time you get your head wet.

Home Treatment for Swimmer Ear

Make sure there isn't an object or insect in the ear.

Gently rinse the ear using a bulb syringe and saline solution or a half-and-half solution of white vinegar and warm water.

Avoid getting water in the ear until the irritation clears up. Cotton coated with petroleum jelly can be used as an earplug. Do not use plastic earplugs.

If your ear is itchy, try over-the counter swimmer's eardrops .Use them before and after swimming or getting your ears wet.

To insert eardrops, have the per­son lie down, ear facing up. Warm the drops first by rolling the con­tainer between your hands. Place drops on the wall of the ear canal in small quantities so air can escape and drops can get into the ear. Wiggling the outer ear will help.

You may find it easier to insert eardrops in a small child by hold­ing the child on your lap with his or her legs around your waist and head down on your knees.

Call The Doctor

If ear pain and itching persist or worsen despite five days of home treatment.

If the ear canal is swollen, red, and very painful, or if there is a discharge from the ear.

If redness extends to the outer ear.

If the earache follows a cold.

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