Otitis Externa

Written by Amy Hall
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Otitis externa is essentially an ear infection of the ear canal. Another name used for this condition is swimmer's ear. When the ear canal sustains exposure to moisture, the delicate skin of the ear canal can become weakened and perhaps even breaks open. When this happens, bacteria and fungi can enter these miniscule openings, causing an infection of the ear canal to happen.

If water gets into the ear, you should dry it immediately. Using an ear canal dryer is a convenient way to do this, and it can be done as many times a day as needed. This is a relatively new product and looks much like an ear thermometer. Since these dryers utilize warm air to remove moisture, they are safe and gentle. Ear canal dryers are excellent for younger children, who often have difficulties with ear drops, as well as with adults who need a fast solution to get rid of water in the ears.

A person who suffers from otitis externa may notice itching that presents itself before any pain actually occurs from the infection. Pain tends to be worse when the earlobe is manipulated, and even chewing can cause pain to become more noticeable. A clear discharge may suddenly become yellowish or pus-like, and it can have a foul smell to it.

Ear drops containing antibiotics are typically prescribed to destroy the infection before it becomes worse. Corticosteroids may also be prescribed to ease the itching that is associated with swimmer's ear. You may be directed by your doctor to refrain from swimming while you are undergoing treatment, and earplugs may be recommended for use during bathing. During treatment, your doctor will also recommend that you keep the ear dry, as this is crucial to curing the problem.

Dealing with the Pain of Swimmer's Ear

If you have ever had swimmer's ear, you know just how painful it can be. Fortunately, there are some treatment options you can utilize that will ease your pain while you wait for the antibiotics to take effect. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can definitely tackle pain, as can applying a warm compress to the outside of the ear. Usually the pain will begin to subside within a day or two of beginning antibiotic therapy. Also, you will need to keep the ear dry to prevent repeated infections--an ear canal dryer can be especially effective in this manner.


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