When To Contact A Doctor
If you think you are experiencing ear infection symptoms, and the symptoms last longer than one or two days, you should consult a doctor. Sometimes ear infections do resolve on their own after a couple of days, but if the pain worsens or lingers, you should seek medical attention.
Additionally, if you have fluid draining from your ear or your hearing is impaired by any of the symptoms listed above, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. If you think you have symptoms of labyrinthitis then it is best to contact a doctor right away.
If properly treated, ear infections will not lead to any other complications. If left untreated, however, your ear infection can, in rare cases, pose more serious health issues, including:
- Mastoiditis â a rare inflammation of a bone that is adjacent to the ear
- Permanent hearing loss
- Eardrum perforation
- Facial nerve paralysis
- Occasionally, Menieres disease â a disease that manifests as symptoms of vertigo, hearing loss, pressure in the ears and ringing in the ears.
Letting an ear infection go on without treatment can lead to permanent hearing loss and possible spread of the infection to other parts of your head. If you suspect you might have an ear infection, consult with your doctor or visit an urgent care center to get treatment as soon as possible.
Healing Time In Different Sections Of The Ear
The infections persist in the middle, the outer and inner part of the ear. Every part has its unique features. As a result healing time also depends on the section of the ear.
- Outer Causes of outer ear infection are different from a middle ear infection. The most common type of infection in the outer ear is bacterial infections. But fungal and viral infections can occur as well. It can last for a week or longer. Its symptoms are severe pain in the ear, purulent discharge, fever, etc.
- Middle The infection shouldnt last more than one or two days. After an ear infection clears up, fluid may remain in the middle ear and cause some of the more mild symptoms and can persist for several weeks to months. This condition is diagnosed as otitis media with effusion. Its symptoms are ear pain, feeling like your ear is clogged, Nausea, Reduced Hearing.
- Inner The infection exists for a long time in this section. Most commonly, viral is the reason for the inner ear infection. These viruses can be most of the flu and cold. Its symptoms are pain, fever, and reduced hearing. Nausea and tinnitus can also occur in an inner ear infection.
The Eustachian tube drains fluid and air from the middle ear. Blockage in the Eustachian tube may cause fluid to build up. This causes pain since it applies pressure on the eardrum. The fluid is also a fertile ground for bacteria growth and this leads to an ear infection.
Tips To Prevent Ear Infection:
- Keep your child away from cigarette smoke.
- Avoid bringing your child in contact with sick people for the first year of life.
- Breastfeed your child for the first 6 to 12 months.
- Position your child upright during feedings.
- Keep your childs immunizations up to date.
- Keep your childs allergies under control.
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When To Call A Professional
The treatment of swimmer’s ear usually requires prescription medication. Call your doctor if you or your child has symptoms of this condition.
With treatment, symptoms usually improve within 24 hours and go away in two or three days. If you currently are being treated for swimmer’s ear, call your doctor for follow-up if:
- The symptoms worsen
- New symptoms develop
- The symptoms are not beginning to go away in two to three days
Some people, particularly those who have diabetes or other immune system problems, can develop a severe form of this condition known as malignant otitis externa that requires immediate hospitalization for treatment with intravenous antibiotics. If you have diabetes or another condition that makes you more susceptible to infections, contact your doctor immediately if you develop symptoms of swimmer’s ear.
How Old Is A Child When They Get An Ear Infection
Nearly 90% of children will have at least one ear infection by age three. Infections can become quite painful because the buildup of fluids puts pressure on the eardrum. Many infections clear up on their own with home ear infection treatment, but more severe cases, or those that occur in younger children,
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How Do You Relieve Pressure From Swimmers Ear
You should try the following if your doctor says its okay:
When Should I Call My Doctor
- pain in an ear with or without fever
- lasting itching of the ear or in the ear canal
- loss of hearing or decreased hearing in one or both ears
- discharge from an ear, especially if it’s thick, discolored, bloody, or bad-smelling
Getting treatment is the fastest way to relieve the ear pain and to prevent the spread of infection.
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What Can I Do To Feel Better
At home, follow your doctor’s directions for using ear drops and take all doses of antibiotic medicine as prescribed. Keep taking these for all days of treatment, even if you are starting to feel better. If you stop too soon, the infection could come back.
You can try acetaminophen or ibuprofen for ear pain. If they don’t help, your doctor might prescribe a stronger pain reliever. You’ll use this only for a short time until the ear drops and antibiotics begin to work.
To protect your ear while it heals, your doctor will probably tell you to keep your head out of water for several days or weeks even while showering or shampooing! This can be tough, but your doctor can give you suggestions on how to do this, such as using a cotton ball as an earplug.
How Is Swimmers Ear Diagnosed
Your doctor will look inside your ears. As they do, touching or moving it may hurt. The infected ear will appear red and swollen. It also may look scaly. Your doctor will check your eardrum for infection or a hole. They may not be able to see the eardrum due to swelling.
Your doctor may take a sample of fluid from the ear to send to a lab. The lab is checking for bacteria or fungus.
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Should I Call My Doctor
You should call your doctor if you have any of the following:
- pain in an ear with or without fever
- persistent itching of the ear or in the ear canal
- loss of hearing or decreased hearing in one or both ears
- discharge from an ear, especially if its thick, discolored, bloody, or bad-smelling
These are all signs that you may have external otitis.
Managing Your Symptoms At Home
The advice below should help to relieve your symptoms to some extent and help to prevent complications:
- avoid getting your affected ear wet wearing a shower cap while showering and bathing can help, but you should avoid swimming until the condition has fully cleared
- remove any discharge or debris by gently swabbing your outer ear with cotton wool, being careful not to damage it don’t stick cotton wool or a cotton bud inside your ear
- remove anything from your affected ear that may cause an allergic reaction, such as hearing aids, ear plugs and earrings
- use painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve ear pain these aren’t suitable for everyone, so make sure you check the information leaflet that comes with the medication first if you’re still unsure, check with your GP, practice nurse or pharmacist
- if your condition is caused by a boil in your ear, placing a warm flannel or cloth over the affected ear can help it heal faster
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How Is Chronic Swimmers Ear Diagnosed
A doctor can usually diagnose chronic swimmers ear during an office visit. They will use an otoscope, a lighted instrument that allows them to examine inside the ears. Your doctor will look for the following symptoms of chronic swimmers ear:
- red, swollen, or tender ear and ear canal
- flakes of scaly, shedding skin in the ear canal
- blockage of the affected area that may require clearing
To determine why the condition is chronic, you may need to see an otolaryngologist . An otolaryngologist can identify whether the primary site of the infection is in the middle ear or the outer ear. An infection in the middle ear requires a different type of treatment.
Your doctor may also take a sample of ear discharge or debris for laboratory analysis. This allows them to determine the organism causing the recurring infection.
How Long Does An Ear Infection Last Topic Guide
- Antibiotic choice in treating ear infections depends on the type of infection. Ear infections occur when bacteria or viruses get into the structures of the ear. Symptoms of ear infections include fever, ear pain, feeling of fullness in the ear, decreased hearing/hearing loss, and other symptoms.
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A Very Common Problem
Swimmers ear, also known as otitis externa, affects millions of people every year. The numbers rise in the summer, with nearly half of cases occurring between June and August. Though mostly associated with childrenas they are more susceptible due to narrower ear canalsswimmers ear can affect people of any age. It also occurs five times more often in swimmers than in the general population.
Even the nickname swimmers ear is somewhat of a misnomer although common to swimmers, you dont have to be a swimmer to get it. Sometimes just living in a hot and humid climate is enough for moisture to build up and become trapped.
Water that stays in the ear after swimming or even showering, if you don’t get all of the moisture out and get it good and dry, then it can lead to swimmer’s ear.”
“Bacteria proliferate in a warm, moist environment,” said Bridget Redlich, infection preventionist at Lake Charles Memorial Health System in Louisiana. Water that stays in the ear after swimming or even showering, if you don’t get all of the moisture out and get it good and dry, then it can lead to swimmer’s ear.”
Cleaning Your Ear Canal
If earwax or loose material is blocking your ear canal, it can stop ear drops from working properly.
If you think you have too much earwax, you shouldnt try to remove it yourself. Using cotton buds or other objects to try to clean earwax out of your ears can push it further inside and block your ear. You might also damage the skin inside your ear canal, which can lead to an ear infection.
Instead, your GP may suggest one of the following methods to clean your ear canal before you use ear drops. Sometimes they may need to refer you to a specialist in ear, nose and throat conditions for these procedures.
- Syringing and irrigation. This gently washes out any earwax and debris blocking your ear canal.
- Dry swabbing. This means using dry cotton swabs to gently remove any loose material from your ear canal.
- Microsuction. This involves using a device to gently suction out wax and any other material from your ear. Your doctor will do this procedure using a microscope to view your ear.
If your ear canal is very swollen, your doctor may suggest inserting an ear wick into your ear. This can only be done by a specialist. An ear wick is a small sponge pad. Once its in your ear, it can be soaked with an antibiotic solution. This allows drops to fall deep into your ear. The wick is usually left in place for at least a couple of days. Generally, your doctor or nurse will remove it but it may fall out on its own.
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What Are The Causes Of Chronic Swimmers Ear
Your earwax, or cerumen, provides a natural barrier against germs entering your ear. Swimmers ear can occur when you dont have enough earwax in your ear. Without the protection of adequate earwax, bacteria can enter your ear and cause an infection.
The following are common causes of chronic swimmers ear:
- allowing too much water to get into your ears
- overcleaning the ear canal with cotton swabs
- allowing cosmetic chemicals from products such as hairspray to enter your ear, causing a sensitivity reaction
- scratching the inside or outside of the ear, causing small breaks in the skin which can trap infection
- having something stuck in your ear
- not following through with treatment for acute swimmers ear
Chronic swimmers ear is most common in children. Children typically have narrow ear canals, which trap water more easily.
Other circumstances and behaviors that can increase your risk of developing chronic swimmers ear include:
- swimming frequently, particularly in public pools
- swimming in areas where there may be excessive bacteria, such as hot tubs or polluted water
- using headphones, hearing aids, or swim caps that could scratch or injure your ears
- having skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, or seborrhea
An acute case of swimmers ear may become chronic if:
- the physical structure of the ear makes treatment difficult
- the bacterium is a rare strain
- you have an allergic reaction to antibiotic eardrops
- the infection is both bacterial and fungal
Malignant External Otitis Or Necrotizing External Otitis
If the infection reaches the bone and cartilage of the outer ear, it can cause inflammation and damage that extends to the lower part of the skull.
The condition is very painful, and it can be life-threatening. Those most at risk are adults with weakened immune systems.
If the infection spreads to the eardrum, a buildup of pus can cause inflammation in the area and perforate the eardrum.
This will normally heal within 2 months. A doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics, and it is important to keep the ear dry.
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What Is The Treatment For Chronic Swimmers Ear
Before you begin treatment, your doctor may need to clear any discharge or debris in the ear. This procedure uses suction or an ear curette, which has a scoop on the end.
For most cases of chronic swimmers ear, treatment will begin with antibiotic eardrops to cure a bacterial infection. If your ear is very swollen, your doctor may have to insert a cotton or gauze wick into your ear to allow the eardrops to travel into the ear canal.
Treatments with antibiotic eardrops typically last for 10 to 14 days. Its important to finish the course of eardrops, even if the pain and symptoms subside before the end of the course.
Other treatments for chronic swimmers ear include:
- corticosteroids to lessen inflammation
- vinegar eardrops to help restore your ears normal bacterial balance
- antifungal eardrops for infections caused by fungi
- acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve pain or discomfort
Your treatment may be modified to include oral antibiotics, especially if eardrops havent helped. Your doctor may also prescribe pain relievers to relieve pain that has increased in severity or has lasted a long time.
High doses of IV antibiotics treat cases of chronic swimmers ear with malignant otitis externa, especially in older adults or people with diabetes.
During your treatment, you will get the best results if you do not:
You can reduce your risk of developing chronic swimmers ear by following these practices:
Treatments Your Gp Can Provide
While otitis externa can clear up by itself, this can take several weeks without treatment. Your GP can usually prescribe medicated ear drops that speed up the healing process. These usually need to be taken several times a day for about a week.
There are four main types of ear drops used to treat otitis externa:
- antibiotic ear drops this can treat an underlying bacterial infection
- corticosteroid ear drops this can help to reduce swelling
- antifungal ear drops this can treat an underlying fungal infection
- acidic ear drops this can help kill bacteria
Sometimes you may be given medication that’s a combination of the above, such as antibiotic and corticosteroid ear drops.
Once treatment is complete and the inflammation has settled, your doctor may want to re-examine your ear to check for any underlying physical problems that could have contributed to the condition, such as having an abnormal or perforated ear drum.
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What Is Swimmer’s Ear
Swimmers ear, also known by its medical name, otitis externa, usually occurs after water gets trapped inside the ear. This allows bacteria in your ear canal to start multiplying, leading to an infection near the opening of the ear, explains Ileana Showalter, MD, an ENT-otolaryngologist at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore.
True to the conditions name, swimming, or just splashing around in a body of water, is a major cause. But swimmers ear can also arise from any situation where your ear traps a small amount of water, like after a shower or bath, or even time in a hot tub.
Sometimes swimmer’s ear develops not from trapped water but from a cut or scrape just inside the ear canal. Overly aggressive cleaning with cotton swabs tends to cause it if the swab scratches the skin inside the ear, bacteria can thrive and trigger an infection. People with excessive ear wax or the chronic skin conditioneczema, which causes itching and redness, are also more likely to develop swimmer’s ear, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.