Swimmer’s Ear

Otitis externa (“swimmer’s ear” or “outer ear infection”) is a condition that causes pain in the outer ear and ear canal. The ear canal protects the ear from foreign objects entering in the middle part of the ear. The ear canal is also responsible for protecting the ear from developing infections.

Symptoms and Signs

There are many symptoms and signs of otitis externa. Consider seeing one of our physicians if you have any of the following:

  • Pain in one ear that gradually gets worse
  • Itchy ear canal
  • Ear drainage that may be clear, yellow, white or bloody with a foul smell
  • Difficulty hearing
  • Ringing in the affected ear
  • Dizziness
  • Low-grade fever

When to Call the Doctor

Otitis externa is not usually considered a medical emergency. However, seek medical attention if you have:

  • Pain not controlled with an over the counter medication
  • Swimmer’s ear along with a disease or condition that suppresses your immune system
  • Redness that goes from the ear down the neck you need immediate medical attention
  • Weakness in the facial muscles
  • A high fever
  • History of ear problems
  • History of ear surgeries

Solutions and Options

If you have otitis externa, you need medication for pain and inflammation (swelling). Additionally, the ear specialist will clean out the ear, especially if there is a lot of fluid draining from it. If the doctor believes you have an infection, he or she may prescribe antibiotics. In a week or two, you may have to return to the doctor for a follow-up visit to make sure your outer ear infection has resolved.