Otitis Externa

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Otitis externa, also known as "Swimmer's ear", is one of the most common conditions affecting the ear. It is an inflammation of the ear canal, and is responsible for most cases of ear itch and pain.

Symptoms of Otitis Externa:

Otitis ExternaThe main symptom is that of pain, the severity of which is directly related to the severity of the otitis externa. The pain of otitis externa is worsened when the outer ear is touched or pulled gently. This is the classical difference between the pain of otitis externa and ear pain due to other causes.

Patients with otitis externa may also experience itch and some ear discharge. Scratching the itch with cotton buds often only serves to worsen the inflammation, resulting in more pain.

If the inflammation or discharge is severe enough, there may be some hearing loss.

Prevention of Otitis Externa:

• Avoid inserting anything into the ear. Use of cotton bud or ear picks are the most common triggers.

• Try to keep the ear canal dry whenever possible.

• Avoid swimming if very mild symptoms of otitis externa begin.

• The use of ear plugs when swimming or washing hair may help prevent external otitis.


Treatment of Otitis Externa:

The aim of management is to treat the infection and return the ear canal skin to a healthy condition. In mild cases of otitis externa, simple measures such as keeping the ear canal dry and avoiding inserting anything into the ear, usually result in spontaneous resolution.

In more severe cases, ear drops are usually required. If there is copious amounts of discharge or debris, these may have to be removed by your doctor, in order to promote direct contact of the prescribed medication with the skin of the infected ear canal.

Further Reading

The article above is meant to provide general information and does not replace a doctor's consultation.
Please see your doctor for professional advice.