Treating Outer Ear Infections
Outer ear infections are sometimes called swimmer’s ear, or otitis externa. This is an infection of the ear canal, the portion of the ear that leads from the outside and stops at the eardrum. The opening of this part of the ear is external and visible.
Outer ear infections are called swimmer’s ear because they can sometimes be caused by swimming or bathing in contaminated water.
This is not the only way to get an outer ear infection, however. Bacteria, viruses, or fungi can be introduced to the outer ear in many ways, especially through broken skin, and usually result in an infection when a moist environment aids their growth.
Symptoms of an outer ear infection can include:
- Pain in the ear
- Redness and irritation inside the ear canal
- Itchy ear canal
- Flaky or peeling skin
More severe infections can lead to swelling of the ear canal, which may lead to muffled hearing, a fever, or ear drainage that looks like there is pus in it.
An outer ear infection can be diagnosed through an examination of the ear canal with an otoscope .
What Causes Swimmer’s Ear
Swimmer’s ear or otitis externa usually develops in ears that are exposed to moisture. People who get it often have been diving or swimming a lot, which can bring germs directly into the ear canal. Swimmer’s ear often happens during the summer months, when lots of us are enjoying water activities.
People who don’t swim can also develop it by scratching their ear canals when they try to clean their ears. This is especially true if they use cotton swabs or dangerously sharp small objects, like hair clips or bobby pins.
Sometimes, in a person with a middle ear infection , pus collected in the middle ear can drain into the ear canal through a hole in the eardrum, causing otitis externa.
What Causes Otitis Externa
Otitis externa is an infection of the skin of the ear canal and is very common. The ear canal is a narrow, warm, blind-ended tunnel, which makes it a good protected environment for germs to grow in if they are given a chance. Most infections are caused by a germ . Occasionally, they can be due to a fungal or yeast infection.
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What Causes A Fungal Ear Infection
Earwax protects the lining of the ear from fungus so anything that reduces the amount of wax will allow a fungal infection to take hold. Eczema of the skin inside the ear can be another risk factor.
The outside temperature plays a significant part. Fungi grow faster in the heat, so its more common in warmer climates. In the UK it occurs more often in summer than in winter.
9 out of 10 fungal infections are due to a fungus belonging to the Aspergillus species and the rest are caused by a fungus of the Candida species.
How Should This Medicine Be Used
Antipyrine and benzocaine otic comes as a solution to place into the ear. When antipyrine and benzocaine is used to relieve ear pain, it is usually used every 1 to 2 hours as needed. When antipyrine and benzocaine is used to help in the removal of ear wax, it is usually used 3 times daily for 2-3 days. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Use antipyrine and benzocaine otic exactly as directed.
Antipyrine and benzocaine otic is for use only in the ears.
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Who Should Use Antibiotic Eardrops
Antibiotic eardrops can be more effective and safer for:
- People with Swimmers Ear, an infection caused by water in the ear.
- Children who have tubes in their ears. The tubes prevent most infections behind the eardruman area known as the middle ear. If there is an infection, antibiotic eardrops can be given right through the tube.
How Do You Prevent Ear Infections
You may be able to prevent ear some ear infections if you:
- Use earplugs when swimming or diving
- Dry ears thoroughly after swimming
- Never use cotton swabs inside the ear canal
- Wash hands properly to prevent the spread of viruses
- Use soap and warm water and wash for at least 20 seconds
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Acute Otitis Media And Chronic Suppurative Otitis Media
Prior to administration of ofloxacin otic solution, the solution should be warmed by holding the bottle in the hand for one or two minutes to avoid dizziness which may result from the instillation of a cold solution. The patient should lie with the affected ear upward, and then the drops should be instilled. The tragus should then be pumped 4 times by pushing inward to facilitate penetration of the drops into the middle ear. This position should be maintained for five minutes. Repeat, if necessary, for the opposite ear .
Ear And Eye Infections
The ears of many mammals other than humans can be colonized by a commensal yeast, Malassezia pachydermatis, which may proliferate and cause infection under certain circumstances . Candida species, certain Aspergillus species, Pseudallescheria boydii, and a few other organisms also can colonize human or, occasionally, animal external ear canals . A sterile cotton swab is used to collect ear secretions and inoculate plates containing SABC medium. A 10% potassium or sodium hydroxide mount is examined microscopically to verify that any filamentous fungus isolated is producing mycelium and conidiophores in the ear and is not merely a contaminant from an external source.
No fungi colonize any portion of the eye primarily. An extensive and growing list of fungi, however, are known to infect the corneal surface subsequent to a traumatic eye injury, typically a scratch or puncture caused by plant material. After appropriate anesthesia is given corneal scrapings are collected with a suitable sterile scalpel blade and then cultured on SAB . Infection is verified by the presence of fungal filaments in the scrapings when examined in a hydroxide mount or gram smear.
Malcolm D. Richardson, Riina Rautemaa-Richardson, in, 2021
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Complications Of Otitis Externa
Signs and symptoms of necrotizing otitis externa can include:
- severe ear pain and headaches
- exposed bone visible in your ear canal
- facial nerve palsy where your face droops on the side of the affected ear
Without treatment, necrotizing otitis externa can be fatal. However, it can be effectively treated using antibiotics and surgery to remove any damaged tissue.
When To See A Doctor
A typical ear infection will start to improve in a couple of days and will be cleared up in two weeks or less. Some ear infections, however, will need medical treatment. Call your healthcare provider if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Symptoms that don’t get better or worsen over two or three days
- Severe pain that resolves suddenly
- Headache or dizziness
- Fluid or blood draining from your ear
- Swelling behind your ear
- Weakness in your facial muscles
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What Is My Doctor Looking For
Your doctor will ask you about any symptoms youâve had. Be sure to come to the office with any notes you might need and questions on your mind.
She will look at the eardrum with an instrument called an otoscope for signs of infection. This is a tough task with a fussy infant, so be ready to help calm the little one if itâs your child with the earache.
Signs of infection include a red eardrum or a bulging eardrum with fluid behind it. The fluid may be thin like during a cold, or thick like pus. It is located in the middle ear, just behind the ear drum. Otitis media means inflammation of the middle ear. A puffer attached to the otoscope blows air to see if your thin eardrum moves. With fluid in the middle ear, the eardrum is more rigid and doesn’t move back and forth.
She might also look for signs of infection with another instrument. Itâs called a tympanometer, and it uses sound and air pressure to check for fluid in the middle ear.
What Can I Do To Prevent Ear Infections
Middle ear infections are often a result of a simple cold. While its hard to prevent colds, good hygiene can help lower your chance of catching one.
Keep your child away from cigarette smoke. Exposure to cigarette smoke increases your childs risk of ear infections.
If your child keeps getting ear infections, they may need grommets put in their ears to prevent recurring infection.
Your risk of an outer ear infection may be reduced by:
- ensuring that you or your child drain water out of your ears after swimming
- using ear plugs for swimming if you are prone to these infections
- not putting anything into your ear, not even a cotton bud, even if your ear feels blocked or painful
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How Is A Fungal Ear Infection Treated
If the inside of your ear looks really messy, the doctor may suggest a clean-up. This has the odd name of aural toilet. It can be done by a doctor or more usually a nurse. It involves gently clearing the ear of discharge using swabs, a suction tube or syringe. This may need to be done several times a week in the first instance. Aural toileting eases discomfort and also helps ear drops to get to the right place. However, it may be a bit uncomfortable while you’re having it done, and you may need to take some painkillers.
Don’t fiddle with your ear, keep it dry and try to resist scratching inside, however itchy it may be, as this will stop the infection from clearing up. It’s not usually advisable to put a cotton wool plug in the ear unless you get a lot of discharge and you need to keep it under control for the sake of appearances.
Avoid swimming until the condition clears up.
Your doctor may prescribe 5% aluminium acetate ear drops. This is also known as Burow’s solution. It’s not an antifungal but is used to calm down inflammation and help remove any muck in your ear.
Should I Use Antibiotics For An Ear Infection
Antibiotics are a medicine prescribed by your doctor. If youre dealing with an ear infection caused by bacteria, youll likely need antibiotics. They are the best way of quickly getting rid of a bacterial infection and preventing it from spreading to other parts of the body.
The catch is that antibiotics dont work against viruses if you use antibiotics on a viral ear infection, it can actually make the infection worse. Overuse of antibiotics can lead to a condition called antibiotic resistance, which means that the medicine becomes less effective at fighting off bacteria.
Thats why doctors are careful about using antibiotics wisely and may not immediately prescribe them for ear infections.
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Ofloxacin Ear Drops Description
Ofloxacin otic solution, 0.3% is a sterile aqueous anti-infective solution for otic use.
Chemically, ofloxacin has three condensed 6-membered rings made up of a fluorinated carboxyquinolone with a benzoxazine ring. The chemical name of ofloxacin is: -9-fluoro-2,3-dihydro-3-methyl-10–7-oxo-7H-pyrido-1,4-benzoxazine-6-carboxylic acid. The molecular formula of ofloxacin is C18H20FN3O4 and its molecular weight is 361.37. The structural formula is:
Ofloxacin, USP is white to off-white or pale yellow crystalline powder. It is soluble in glacial acetic acid sparingly soluble in chloroform and in 0.1N sodium hydroxide sparingly soluble to slightly soluble in methylene chloride slightly soluble in dimethylformamide and very slightly soluble in methyl alcohol and water.
Ofloxacin otic solution contains 0.3% ofloxacin, USP with benzalkonium chloride , sodium chloride , and water for injection. Hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide are added to adjust the pH between 6.0 and 7.0.
What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Swimmer’s Ear
The main sign is severe ear pain that gets worse when the outside part of the ear is pulled or pressed on. Sometimes there is itching in the ear canal before the pain begins.
The outer ear might get red or swollen. Lymph nodes around the ear may get enlarged and tender. Sometimes, there’s a greenish-yellow discharge of pus from the ear opening. It can be hard to hear in the affected ear if pus or swelling of the canal begins to block passage of sound into the ear.
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Apple Cider Vinegar With Rubbing Alcohol Ear Drops
This recipe is identical to the one above except it involves rubbing alcohol instead of warm water.
Rubbing alcohol is both antimicrobial and antibacterial. Do not use this method if you have drainage from your ear or think you may have a middle ear infection. Also, do not continue with this mixture if you have any stinging or discomfort when using these drops.
- Mix equal parts apple cider vinegar with rubbing alcohol .
- Apply 5 to 10 drops in each affected ear using a clean dropper bottle or baby syringe.
- Cover your ear with a cotton ball or clean cloth and lean on your side to let drops enter and sit in the ear. Do this for about 5 minutes.
- Repeat this application as often as desired to fight ear infection.
Outer ear infection symptoms include:
Be aware that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesnt regulate essential oils, so be sure to purchase them from a reputable source. Prior to using any essential oil, test a drop or two on a small area of your skin for 24 hours to see if any reaction occurs.
Even if the oil does not irritate your skin, it could still cause irritation or discomfort if you put it in your ear. Always follow directions on labels for specific essential oils and keep out of the reach of children.
Once again, do not try any essential oils in your ear if you have or suspect you may have a damaged eardrum. They may be dangerous to the middle ear.
Return To The Doctor Or Nurse If Things Don’t Settle
Very occasionally, the germs which infect the ear canal are resistant to some antibiotic ear drops. A change to a different type of ear drop may be helpful. Sometimes a small sample of the discharge is taken and sent to the laboratory to identify which germ is causing the infection. If the infection is severe, antibiotic tablets may be needed in addition to drops.
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Helps Avoid The Overuse Of Prescription Antibiotics
Widespread antibiotic prescriptions for infections has impaired the viability of antibiotics by causing a rise in resistant strains of bacteria.
Ear Natural® ear drops help avoid the overuse of prescription antibiotics
Ear Natural® ear drops provides a quick and easy, one-time treatment for both viral and bacterial middle-ear infections with the help of hundreds of powerful, naturally-occurring complex compounds not found in prescription antibiotics.
A highly effective natural medicine for middle-ear infections, Ear Natural® ear drops quickly delivers our signature, proprietary blend of mustard & lavender oils for immediate relief of mild to severe pain and itching in the middle-ear.
Ear Natural® – What it is and how it works
Chronic Suppurative Otitis Media With Perforated Tympanic Membranes
The recommended dosage regimen for the treatment of chronic suppurative otitis media with perforated tympanic membranes in patients 12 years and older is:
Ten drops instilled into the affected ear twice daily for fourteen days. The solution should be warmed by holding the bottle in the hand for one or two minutes to avoid dizziness that may result from the instillation of a cold solution. The patient should lie with the affected ear upward, before instilling the drops. The tragus should then be pumped 4 times by pushing inward to facilitate penetration into the middle ear. This position should be maintained for five minutes. Repeat, if necessary, for the opposite ear.
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Treating Inner Ear Infections
The inner ear is located next to the middle ear within the temporal bone. The inner ear contains the semicircular canals, which are essential to balance and equilibrium.
Inner ear infections are much more likely to be caused by a virus than a bacterial infection. They are much less common than outer ear infections or middle ear infections.
The most common inner ear infections include labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis, which are slightly different conditions.
Labyrinthitis affects the labyrinth, which is a system of fluid-filled sacs that helps you hear and gives you a sense of balance. Labyrinthitis can cause both hearing changes and dizziness, or vertigo.
Vestibular neuritis is an inner ear infection that affects the vestibular nerve and usually causes dizziness and balance issues but no hearing changes.
There is no specific diagnostic test to identify an inner ear infection, so misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis is common.
When Should I See A Doctor About A Fungal Ear Infection
Fungal ear infections usually cause a fair amount of discomfort and discharge so most people want to see a doctor soon after the condition starts. There are some eardrops available from pharmacies, but the best they can do is reduce the inflammation a bit. In fungal infections, they don’t usually have much effect.
See a doctor sooner rather than later if:
- You are in a lot of pain.
- Your ear produces a lot of discharge.
- You feel generally unwell or develop unusual symptoms such as dizziness.
- You have a high temperature.
- The outer part of your ear looks very mucky.
- Your hearing becomes muffled.
- You’ve bought some treatment from the chemist which hasn’t worked.
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