If you are experiencing redness around your ear canal or discomfort, you may have a condition known as swimmer’s ear. When the outer ear canal is exposed to prolonged periods of moisture or wetness, bacteria can quickly spread. Dr. Bradford Ress treats patients with swimmer’s ear in Boca Raton, FL. Call our practice at (561) 353-7377 to make an appointment to discuss any ear pain or other signs of swimmer’s ear.
Causes of Swimmer’s Ear
Swimmer’s ear differs from an inner ear infection, which Dr. Ress also treats. Inner ear infections result from the build-up of bacteria along the middle ear. The germs can enter through a small connection in the sinus cavity. Without treatment, inner ear infections tend to grow worse and can result in long-term hearing loss.
Swimmer’s ear results from a bacterial infection in the outer ear canal. The skin surrounding this canal is thin and prone to infection. The condition often occurs after a prolonged period of swimming, although individuals can contract swimmer’s ear that does not result from swimming or bathing. Ear cleanings can remove ear wax that protects the ear canal’s skin, thereby increasing the risk of infection. Left untreated, the infection can progress to mild, moderate, and advanced stages.
Risk factors for swimmer’s ear include:
- Overly aggressive ear cleanings
- Narrow ear canal
- Use of headphones
- Skin allergies
- Young age
The symptoms of an inner ear infection and swimmer’s ear can overlap. Dr. Ress will accurately diagnose which type of infection you have.
Symptoms of Swimmer’s Ear
Individuals who suffer from swimmer’s ear usually notice some form of irritation near their ear canal. Early stages of swimmer’s ear include:
- Redness near the ear canal
- Itchiness around and inside the ear canal
- Discomfort around their ear
- Mild pain in the ear canal
- Fluid discharge
- Mild loss of hearing
- Feelings of stuffiness along the outer ear canal
The following symptoms are commonly associated with advanced levels of infection and require immediate medical attention.
- Severe pain that radiates from the ear
- Swelling of the lymph nodes
- Pus draining from the ear canal
- Significant loss of hearing
- Feeling of complete blockage of the ear canal
- Swelling of the outer ear
Treatments and Prevention
Dr. Ress may use an otoscope to examine your ear canal. Depending on the type and severity of your ear infection, he may prescribe ear cleaning, steroids, antifungal topical treatments, acidic solutions, medications, or oral antibiotics.
The best way to prevent contracting swimmer’s ear is to protect your ears from excess moisture. This could mean showering instead of bathing or using earplugs when swimming. If your ears do become clogged with water, dry them immediately by patting your ears with a dry cloth or using an alcohol-based ear drop to dry out your ear canal. Also, use caution when cleaning your ears. It is generally advised to not use cotton swabs to clean your ears. Over-the-counter earwax removal drops work just as well and won’t endanger your ears.
Contact Us Today
If you are experiencing any significant pain in your ears, don’t wait. Infections can spread quickly, placing your hearing at risk. Swimmer’s ear occurs more frequently among adolescents, but adults can develop swimmer’s ear too. Once diagnosed, Dr. Ress can treat your swimmer’s ear at his Boca Raton, FL clinic. To schedule your appointment, contact us online or call Dr. Ress at (561) 353-7377.