Swimming pool season is here again, and with it comes the ear infection known as Otitis!

Otitis is a general term used for ear inflammation. Since the ear has 3 auditory canals, otitis is subdivided into:

-External otitis or “Swimmer’s ear,” which affects the outer ear canal.

-Otitis media involves the middle ear canal. Usually, the ear is infected or obstructed with liquid behind the eardrum.

-Inner otitis or Labyrinthitis affects the inner ear including sensory organs related to balance and hearing. When the inner ear is inflamed, vertigo is a common symptom.

Outer otitis is the mildest and most common ear infection, also known as “Swimmer’s ear.” This infection covers the ear canal, which spans from the eardrum to the outer part of the head. It is caused by bacteria generated from water left in the ear, usually after swimming. Otitis can be caused by less common viruses, and it can also be caused by introducing objects and even fingers into the ear canal!

Some symptoms of outer otitis are:

-Slight to more intense itching in the ear canal.

-Slight to more intense blotching inside the ear.

-Discomfort in the ear transforming into pain.

-Colorless pus secretion.

-A sensation of blockage within the ear.

During the worse moments, the following can occur:

-Intense pain extending from the face to the head

-Lymph nodes inflammation in the neck

-Fever

-Swelling in the ear

Generally, this condition is treated with ear drops and medication to lower fever. Antibiotics to fight bacteria can be used, but it will depend on the gravity of the situation. This is why you need to schedule a doctor’s appointment immediately to avoid complications. If there are complications, consult with a specialist that will give you the best advice. The medical specialist in ears, nose and throat is also called an ENT specialist.

Usually, external drops are used but if the infection persists and depending on the characteristics of the same, the doctor may prescribe oral medication.

The diagnosis will more than likely occur at the doctor’s office where the doctor will evaluate your condition with an otoscope. This device has a light and helps the doctor to see the inner ear to find residue, irritations, etc. If the Otitis persists, you may request further tests.

What factors contribute to outer otitis?

Swimming in water with elevated levels of bacteria like lakes, rivers, seas or not properly treated pools.

-A narrow ear canal that easily traps water can also be a factor. (As in the case of children).

Inadequate cleaning of the ear canal.

-Certain types of earphones or headphones.

-Skin allergies.

Among complicated factors, we can list:

-Temporary hearing loss.

-Chronic infection.

-Inner tissue, cartilage and bone damage. (Malignant outer otitis). This can spread to other parts of the body.

How can you prevent Swimmer’s ear?

-Mainly, keep your ears dry. Dry them carefully after exposure to moisture as a result of swimming or bathing. Only dry your outer ear, slowly and softly with a towel or soft cloth. Incline your head to one side to help drain any water caught in the ear canal.

-Swim in safe places!

-Do not place strange objects in your ear or even your fingers!

-When you clean your ears do it gently. And if you have had episodes of otitis in the past, use a towel instead of Q-tips or the ones used for babies!

While you are on this treatment, avoid swimming and diving. Take your medication and use the drops as indicated by your doctor. If you are unable to apply the drops by yourself, ask for help. The best way to is to lie on one side and allow the medication to penetrate the ear correctly!

I hope this information has been useful. Until the next time!