Disease Management

Swimmer's ear (External Otitis)

Hamad AlKuwari/ Physical Educator
26 July, 2016

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Swimmer's ear is an infection in the outer ear canal. It's often brought on by water that remains in your ear after swimming, creating a moist environment that aids bacterial growth. The most common cause of this infection is bacteria invading the skin inside the ear canal. Swimmer’s ear can also occur when the natural defenses have been overwhelmed due to high inner ear humidity or continuous showers. Conditions that can weaken ear's defenses and promote bacterial growth include:

  • Swimming in water with elevated bacteria levels, such as a lake
  • Prolonged humid weather or water that remains in your ear after swimming can create a favorable environment for bacteria
  • Aggressive cleaning of the ear canal with cotton swabs or other objects
  • Wearing headphones or hearing aids can cause small breaks in the skin that allow bacteria to grow

Symptoms of swimmer's ear disease:

  • Itching inside the ear and ear canal
  • Pain when chewing
  • Low level of hearing
  • Fever
  • Stuffy ear
  • Pus bursting through the eardrum
  • Swollen lymph nodes around the ear

If swimmer's ear develops into necrotizing otitis externa the infection may spread and affect other parts of your body, such as the brain or nearby nerves. This rare complication can be life-threatening.

The treatment of otitis externa

  • Ear drops that contain antibiotics
  • Ear cleaning
  • Visiting the doctor

Prevention is better than cure

• Wear a swimming cap when swimming
• Avoid putting foreign objects in your ear e.g.  Ear plugs, cotton buds
• Do not remove ear wax or reduce it to protect your ears against germs
• Avoid swimming in water which contains a high percentage of bacteria

Swimmer's ear is a curable disease and to get rid of it one should take the whole treatment and remember prevention is better than cure.



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