Treatment For Swimmer’s Ear
- Thorough cleaning and drainage of the ear canal
- Measures to keep the ear canal dry, such as using earplugs or a shower cap while bathing
- Heat packs held to the ear
- Anti-fungal preparations
- A wick inserted into the ear canal to deliver medicated drops close to the eardrum
- Oral antibiotics
- Surgery, to treat and drain infected skull bones.
Earaches And Ear Infections
Earaches and ear infections can have a variety of causesviral, bacterial and fungaland can affect different parts of the ear. Common infections include inner ear, middle ear and outer ear infections .
Ear infections also can be caused by scratching the ear canal when cleaning their ear, especially if a cotton-tipped applicator or dangerously sharp small object, such as a hair clip, is used. In other cases, a middle ear infection can cause an external infection to develop through the draining of pus into the ear canal through a hole in the eardrum.
Infections of the inner ear usually result from viral illnesses, such as influenza, and can cause vertigo , dizziness, nausea, imbalance, difficulty concentrating, tinnitus , reduced hearing and other symptoms. These symptoms also may be caused by head injuries, drug reactions, allergies, underlying medical disorders or aging. If you have these symptoms, you should see a physician evaluation to make the diagnosis and to begin appropriate treatment.
If the symptoms are caused by a virus, the infection usually improves on its own. However, a doctor may recommend taking prescription or over-the-counter anti-nausea medications or receiving an injection to control the symptoms. Recurrent symptoms may indicate Menieres disease, a disorder in which fluid builds up in the inner ear and causes vertigo and balance problems.
Symptoms of middle ear infections include:
Symptoms of swimmers ear include:
Does Swimming Cause Ear Infections
This blog post was originally published in June 2014
Tis the seasonthe swimming season that is.
Summer is here. Temperatures are warming, grills are firing up for a season of outdoor cooking, and pools are heating up for endless fun and entertainment. As a child growing up, I wanted nothing more than to spend time in the local pool after a long, cold Indiana winter.
As the temperatures warm, it is common for cold and flu season to settle down, and with that usually comes a drop in the number of ear infections we see. Summer is generally a time of good health outside of the allergies that are present here in Florida. In my ear, nose and throat practice, however, one of the most common questions I am asked is, Doctor, if my child goes swimming, is he/she going to have ear infections or an increased risk of ear infections?
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Water Chemicals And Congestion
Swimmers inhale small amounts of chlorine and similar chemicals as they breathe during a pool workout. Although the amounts of these chemicals in pools are generally safe for healthy people, they can irritate your nasal passages and bronchial tubes, worsening your chest congestion. If you have allergies to pool chemicals, the symptoms may be even more pronounced.
Look For Visible Symptoms
If your child is experiencing ear pain, these signals are especially helpful: With swimmer’s ear, the outer ear may appear red and swollen and have a rash-like appearance. You may see your child frequently scratch at his ear or complain of an itchy ear. Also watch for a foul-smelling drainagecoming from the ear bothering them. Symptoms to watch for with a middle ear infection include fever, pulling or tugging on the ear, decreased appetite, diarrhea or vomiting.
Norton Childrens Medical Group
Our trusted pediatricians provide routine well checks and treat minor illnesses and injuries, often with same-day appointments.
- Pain made worse by pulling on the outer ear
- Itching and redness in ear canal
- Swelling of the ear canal
Keeping the ears dry can help prevent swimmers ear, Dr. Mattingly said. Use earplugs while swimming or over-the-counter drops after swimming.
If treatment is not immediately available for swimmers ear, there is little need to worry. Parents may safely treat the pain and symptoms until they are able to seek medical treatment. However, in extreme cases, it can lead to secondary infections, such as cellulitis, and bone or cartilage damage.
With both infections perforation of the eardrum is a risk, so you should seek treatment. In addition, persistent presence of fluid in the ear has the potential to affect hearing and speech in children.
Middle Ear Infection Treatment
Witha middle ear infection, it’s best to have a provider examine your ear with an otoscope to look for signs of infection or blockages. For this reason you should be seen in person at urgent care, at a convenient care or walk-in clinic, or at your primary care clinic. If your providerbelieves that bacteria may have caused the infection, she’ll prescribe an antibiotic. However, if a virus is causing the infection, an antibiotic won’t help, and you’ll have to treat the pain and wait for the infection to get better on its own.
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Ready For A Swim How To Prevent Dog Ear Infections
Swimmers ear and summer go hand-in-hand for you and your canines. Dog Ear infections were the second most common reason why dogs visited the vet in 2013, reported by Veterinary Pet Insurance. If you cant keep your dog out of the water and from swimming during the hot months of summer, keep reading to learn more about preventing painful dog ear infections.
Dog Ear infections result from an overgrowth of bacteria or yeast. When water becomes trapped in a dogs ear canal, the perfect storm of darkness plus wet creates a painful ear infection. Even with doggie paddle swimming, water still splashes into the ears. And those dogs that love to submerge themselves to fetch their favorite toy? The chances of an ear infection are even greater! Floppy-eared dogs are at the greatest risk because water-logged ears cannot naturally dry out.
Complications And Emergency Symptoms
If an outer ear infection goes untreated and doesnt heal on its own, it can result in several complications.
Abscesses can develop around the affected area within the ear. These may heal on their own, or your doctor may need to drain them.
Long-term outer ear infections can cause narrowing of the ear canal. Narrowing can affect the hearing and, in extreme cases, cause deafness. It needs to be treated with antibiotics.
Ruptured or perforated eardrums can also be a complication of outer ear infections caused by items inserted into the ear. This can be extremely painful. Symptoms include temporary hearing loss, ringing or buzzing in the ears, discharge, and bleeding from the ear.
In rare cases, necrotizing otitis externa occurs. This is an extremely serious complication where the infection spreads to the cartilage and bone that surrounds your ear canal.
Adults with weakened immune systems are most at risk. Untreated, it can be fatal. This is considered a medical emergency, with symptoms including:
- severe ear pain and headaches, especially at night
- ongoing ear discharge
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Causes Of Swimmer’s Ear
- 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 generalised infection.
- Narrow ear canals – some people’s ear canals are narrower than usual. This means that water can’t drain as effectively.
Pack A Portable Test Strip
If you are worried about picking something up from the pool, you can test the water with a portable test strip, which can be purchased online or at a variety of health and pool shops. You can also order a free test kit from the Water Quality and Health Council.
A portable test strip will indicate whether the chlorine or the PH levels in the pool are off, which can lead to a spread of bacteria and infections to occur.
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How Does Swimming Cause Utis
Bacteria tend to thrive in warm and moist environments with environmental PH and oxygen levels that are similar to those in the human body. Public swimming pools are full of bacteria from urine , body oil, sweat, dirt, microbes, and body products like deodorant, hair products, sunscreen, and body creams.
If the swimming pool does not have sufficient levels of chlorine to keep bacteria at bay, the pool becomes a breeding ground for infections, illnesses, and other issues.
Due to their anatomy, women are four times more likely than men to get a UTI.
What Makes The Delta Variant Different
The COVID-19 delta variant is more contagious and transmissible. The thing with the delta variant is it seems that you need less close, sustained contact to get infected than before, says Dr. Khabbaza. Before, we thought it was 10 or 15 minutes of close, sustained contact but its quite a bit shorter with delta, just because theres so much more virus an infected person produces, and it seems the virus attaches much stronger to our upper airways.
Thats one major reason vaccination is so important, Dr. Khabbaza adds. If youre vaccinated, all these concerns are going to be exponentially less than in an unvaccinated person. Being unvaccinated is the riskiest move right now, he says. Even long before we had delta, to go around with no immunity to COVID is pretty high risk in the middle of a pandemic.
Additionally, while the health benefits of working out are undeniable, where you exercise could make a difference. Across the board, outdoor activities are going to be safer than indoor activities, especially now that there are more contagious variants, Dr. Khabbaza says. With the delta variant, youre making a lot more viral copies in your nose and mouth. It takes a lot less exposure and close contact to somebody else to transmit it.
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Tips To Prevent Swimmers Ear:
- After showering, hair washing or swimming, help the water run out of the ear by having your child tilt her head to one side.
- Hold a hair dryer, set on low, at arms length away from the ear to dry it.
- Dont use cotton swabs to clean the ear as this can pack the earwax and cause water to get trapped behind it.
If Your Child Is Prone To Ear Infection Or Swimmers Ear It Can Be Difficult To Recognize The Difference Heres How To Handle Them
Understanding swimmers ear vs. ear infection differences and how to recognize them can be difficult. Ear pain and infections are common and a host of reasons can be the cause. Heres how to handle them.
There are two main types of ear infections: acute otitis media and otitis externa . A middle ear infection occurs behind the eardrum, whereas swimmers ear occurs in the ear canal. Different organisms cause these infections.
Middle ear infections are more common in younger children and most often are caused by viruses , as well as Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus Influenzae or Moraxella catarrhalis, said , pediatrician with Norton Childrens Medical Group Crestwood.
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Infections Inside The Ear
Antibiotics are not usually offered because infections inside the ear often clear up on their own and antibiotics make little difference to symptoms, including pain.
Antibiotics might be prescribed if:
- an ear infection does not start to get better after 3 days
- you or your child has any fluid coming out of the ear
- you or your child has an illness that means there’s a risk of complications, such as cystic fibrosis
They may also be prescribed if your child is less than 2 years old and has an infection in both ears.
If antibiotics are not prescribed, eardrops containing a painkiller and an anaesthetic might be prescribed.
What To Do At Home During Treatment
Once you start treatment, it will probably take about a week before your symptoms go away. In the meantime, you can take steps to feel better and help your treatment work.
Use the eardrops for as long as it says on the bottle. Thats usually 7 to 14 days. You may start feeling better after just a few days, but dont stop early. If you do, the infection could come back.
Keep your ears dry. When you shower, gently put cotton balls coated with petroleum jelly into your ears to keep out water. And dont swim until your doctor says its OK probably for 7 to 10 days.
Dont use headphones or a hearing aid. Wait until you feel better before you put anything into your ear.
Protect your ears from chemicals in cosmetics. For some people, hairsprays, hair dyes, and other products can irritate the skin and cause swimmers ear. Stop using anything that you think could be causing a problem or at least put cotton balls into your ears first.
You may need a different approach to get rid of the infection.
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Cause Of Ear Infections
- A bacterial infection of the middle ear
- Blocked eustachian tube, usually as part of a common cold. The eustachian tube joins the middle ear to the back of the throat.
- Blockage results in middle ear fluid .
- If the fluid becomes infected , the fluid turns to pus. This causes the eardrum to bulge out and can cause a lot of pain.
- Ear infections peak at age 6 months to 2 years. They are a common problem until age 8.
- The onset of ear infections is often on day 3 of a cold.
- How often do kids get ear infections? 90% of children have at least 1 ear infection. Frequent ear infections occur in 20% of children. Ear infections are the most common bacterial infection of young children.
Tips To Prevent Ear Infection:
- Keep your child away from cigarette smoke.
- Avoid bringing your child in contact with sick people for the first year of life.
- Breastfeed your child for the first 6 to 12 months.
- Position your child upright during feedings.
- Keep your childs immunizations up to date.
- Keep your childs allergies under control.
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Treatments For Outer Ear Infection
Outer ear infections may heal on their own without treatment. Antibiotic eardrops are the most common treatment for an outer ear infection that hasnt healed on its own. They can be prescribed by your doctor.
Doctors may also prescribe antibiotic drops mixed with steroids to reduce swelling in the ear canal. The ear drops are typically used several times a day for 7 to 10 days.
If a fungus is the cause of the outer ear infection, your doctor will prescribe antifungal ear drops. This type of infection is more common in people with diabetes or a depleted immune system.
To reduce symptoms, its important to keep water out of the ears while the infection is healing.
Over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be used to reduce pain. In extreme cases, prescription pain medication may be prescribed.
The most important part of home treatment for outer ear infections is prevention. Keeping the ear dry as much as possible decreases the risk of infection.
Other tips to keep in mind include:
- using a cotton ball or soft ear plugs to prevent water from entering the ear while showering or bathing
- using a swim cap
- avoiding scratching the inner ear, even with cotton swabs
- avoiding removing ear wax on your own
- using an eardrop mixture of rubbing alcohol and/or vinegar after swimming to help dry up excess water
- toweling the head and ears dry after swimming
How To Diagnose And Treat Swimmer’s Ear
If you have ear pain, don’t wait — see your doctor right away. Getting treatment quickly can stop an infection from getting worse.
During your appointment, your doctor will look in your ear and may gently clean it out. This will help treatments work better.
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Take A Splash In These Facts About Swimmers Ear Even If You Dont Swim
Lets dive right into it ear infections arent pleasant. In fact, some would describe them as a nagging, uncomfortable pain. In the summer, one of the more common types of ear infections is Swimmers ear and yes, this affects non-swimmers, too.
According to Thomas E. Brandeisky, D.O., FAOCO, a board certified otolaryngologist and plastic surgeon of the head and neck at Brick Ear, Nose, and Throat & Facial Plastic Surgery, Swimmers ear is an infection of the ear canal, which runs from your eardrum to the outside of your head. In its simplest form, it is a painful swelling of the ear canal which causes drainage and hearing loss, explains Dr. Brandeisky.
What causes Swimmers ear?
Swimmers ear is a form of otitis externa usually caused by excessive water exposure and, for this reason, might be more common in children during the summer but can affect people of all ages. In addition to water retention in the ear canal, Dr. Brandeisky shares that other risk factors include:
Bacteria-fouled water exposure in lakes and the ocean
Aggressive ear cleaning with Q-tips or other foreign objects
Abrasions of the canal skin which can create openings for infection
Inflammatory skin conditions, like eczema and psoriasis, and chemical sensitivity can predispose people to infection
Thats right, Swimmers ear can occur without ever swimming.
What are the symptoms?
Other signs of Swimmers ear may include:
Outer redness of the ear
Enlarged and/or tender ears