External Otitis

Written by Amy Hall
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External otitis, also known as swimmer's ear, is caused by several different kinds of bacteria and fungi. When excessive moisture in the ear canal causes the skin to break down, bacteria or fungi can penetrate the ear canal and cause an infection. The ear canal is the tubular opening that transmits sounds from outside the body directly to the eardrum. Thus, keeping the ears dry is the first step to preventing and treating external otitis.

You do not have to be a swimmer to get external otitis, as it can be caused by certain medical conditions such as eczema; it can also be caused when the skin is ruptured due to excessive cleaning with cotton swabs or when a foreign object is introduced in the ear canal. Basically, any breakage of the skin in the canal can lead to external otitis. Therefore, it is important that you do not introduce anything into the ear that can cause the skin in the canal to become irritated and compromised.

An effective way to prevent and treat swimmer's ear is to keep the ear canal dry. When water does become trapped in your ear, an ear canal dryer is one the best resources you can have. This type of product can dry the ear canal, getting rid of moisture and thus, the bacteria that can grow there. The best ear canal dryers will utilize warm air that reflects your body temperature for the safest and gentlest treatment. This is perhaps the easiest way to avoid ear problems. If you have an ear infection, your doctor will recommend that you keep the ears dry, and this is also a time when an ear canal dryer can come in handy.

The Signs of External Otitis

Swimmer's ear can be extremely painful, with a clear fluid that turns into a yellowish, pus-like discharge. Itching in the ear canal may actually precede any pain. A feeling of fullness in the ear is present, and pain is worse when the ear lobe is moved or touched. Some people with external otitis find that chewing is difficult because it triggers pain in the ear.

Hearing may be compromised if the pus-like discharge blocks the eardrum. Typically, swimmer's ear is not accompanied by a fever, however antibiotics are needed to clear up the infection. Your doctor may recommend that you stay out of the pool during treatment, and you may want to wear earplugs when showering to keep moisture out of your ears and be sure to dry your ears after being in the water.

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