Swimmer’s ear occurs due to water getting trapped in your ear canal and causing an infection in your outer ear canal. The symptoms can be painful depending on how long they’ve been untreated and can cause potential complications. It’s important to get swimmer’s ear looked at by a medical professional to ensure no complications occur.
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What are the Symptoms of Swimmer’s Ear?
Most cases of swimmer’s ear are considered mild. However, if you leave your symptoms untreated for too long, they can progress and get worse.
Mild signs of swimmer’s ear are the most common. They include:
- Redness inside of the ear
- Itching in the ear canal
- Some drainage of clear fluid
- Mild discomfort, made worse by tugging at your ear lobe or pushing in your tragus
Moderate signs of swimmers ear include:
- Increased pain
- Increased itching
- More extensive redness
- Increased fluid drainage
- Decreased hearing
- Feeling of fullness or blockage in your ear
Signs of a more advanced case of swimmer’s ear include:
- More severe pain that can spread to your face or neck
- Total blockage of the ear canal
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Redness or swelling of the outer ear
What Causes Swimmer’s Ear?
Swimmer’s ear is caused by bacteria. Our ears do a good job of blocking out any debris or bacteria naturally. Earwax helps keep our ears clean, and the design of the ear itself is meant to keep any foreign materials away. If you have swimmers ear, the natural defense has been surpassed.
Moisture that has been trapped in the ear creates a perfect environment for bacteria growth. Swimming in contaminated water can also cause swimmer’s ear, as well as damage to the ear canal.
Complications of Untreated Swimmer’s Ear
Most cases of swimmer’s ear are not serious, but it’s important to receive treatment before serious complications occur. This can include:
- Temporary hearing loss
- Long-term or tissue infections
- Bone or cartilage damage
- More widespread infection, including brain infections
How can I Prevent Swimmer’s Ear?
There are a few ways you can try to prevent swimmer’s ear. Keeping your ears dry while swimming is one of the best ways, as moisture trapped in the ear is the largest cause. Don’t swim in lakes or rivers with high bacteria counts, and protect your ears with earplugs while swimming.
Be sure not to put any foreign objects in your ear, including cotton swabs. This can pack earwax down further into your ear, which can cause potential issues.