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Summer, swimming and blocked ears

Posted on January 29, 2015

Has swimming over summer caused blocked ears? It may be swimmers ear

It is not uncommon for people to experience symptoms of wax impaction and develop ‘swimmers ear’ after swimming.

If there is a blockage of wax in the external auditory canal, water can enter the ear canal and get trapped behind the blockage. When water is trapped in the ear canal, bacteria that normally inhabits the skin and ear canal multiply, causing infection of the ear canal and is often referred to as ‘swimmers ear’.

Swimmers ear (also called acute otitis externa) is a painful condition resulting from inflammation, irritation, or infection with subsequent spread of bacteria or fungal organisms (source).

Symptoms of swimmers ear

  • Pain
  • Foul-smelling yellow or green pus in the ear canal
  • Decreased hearing
  • Itchiness
  • Tinnitus
Blocked ears caused by swimmers ear

Swimmers Ear (otitis externa)

Malignant otitis externa is a rare but dangerous complication

Malignant otitis externa is the spread of infection to the bones of the ear canal and lower part of the skull. This may cause structural damage in severe cases. Without treatment, the infection may reach the cranial nerves and the brain. People with reduced immunity or diabetes are at increased risk of this complication. Malignant otitis externa is a medical emergency. If you have swimmer’s ear and experience strange symptoms, such as dizziness or muscular weakness in your face, seek immediate medical help (source).

 Treatment for swimmers ear

Treatment for swimmer’s ear depends on the severity of the infection and the type of infectious agent, but may include:

  • Thorough cleaning and drainage of the ear canal by micro suction and curettage
  • Measures to keep the ear canal dry, such as using earplugs or a shower cap while bathing
  • Painkillers
  • Heat packs held to the ear
  • Anti-fungal preparations
  • Antibiotic ear drops
  • Steroid-based ear drops
  • A wick inserted into the ear canal to deliver medicated drops close to the eardrum
  • Oral antibiotics
  • Intravenous antibiotics (source)

Where to get help

If you have one or more of the above listed symptoms, please seek medical advise or visit the Nurses at Clear Ears for an ear examination and treatment,bookings can be made online at www.clearears.com.au

For more information on swimmers ear, follow these link http://www.entnet.org/content/swimmers-earhttp://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au

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