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Commonly called as swimmer’s ear, ear canal infection or external otitis is an inflammatory process affecting the skin of the outer ear canal, which moves along the eardrum to the outside.
In the early course of the disease process, the symptoms are typically mild but may worsen if the infection spreads or if it is left untreated. In individuals with mild infection, they may experience signs and symptoms including ear canal itching with minor redness, mild discomfort which worsens when the auricle is pulled and the appearance of a clear, odorless drainage. If the infection is in its moderate progression, the patient may predominantly complain of having a more intense itching with increasing ear pain and more extensive ear redness, extreme fluid drainage, foul smelling yellowish pus and diminished and muffled hearing.
When the condition becomes advanced, there is severe pain radiating to the face, neck and sides of the face.
Possible causative bacteria are Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus while the Candida albicans and Aspergillus are the most common fungi to blame for this medical condition. Normally, the outer ear canal has a natural defense which helps prevent infection from occurring.
If a patient develops ear canal infection, then, the natural defenses in the ear have been overwhelmed. Scratches and abrasions in the ear can be due to cleaning the ear with cotton swab or hair pin, scratching with finger and using headphones and hearing aids. If otitis externa is in chronic form, the cause might not only because of bacteria but is more likely to be attributed by chronic dermatitis of the ear canal.
It is important to learn the approaches for preventing a person from developing acute external otitis.
The treatment is aimed at ending the disease process and permitting the ear canal to undergo healing process. To begin with, the outer ear canal is cleaned to assist the eardrops to run along the infected areas. Generally, acute ear canal infection resolves in just a few days after a therapeutic combination of topical wash and antibiotics, however, absolute convalescence of hearing and gland function may take place a little longer. Whatever the reason for this infection, avoid factors such as moisture and irritation as these extend the course of the disease. This website is for informational purposes only and Is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
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How can I tell if my child has an ear infection?An earache is often the first noticeable symptom. Find out whether it's simply a garden-variety sore throat or an indication of epiglottitis, a potentially serious infection. Find out why your baby, toddler, or older child has bad breath and what you can do about your child's bad breath.
Discuss whether prescription drugs or watchful waiting is the best treatment for your child's ear infection. Baby's mouth sores may look nasty, and might be pretty painful, but the condition isn't serious. Commonly called as swimmera€™s ear, ear canal infection or external otitis is an inflammatory process affecting the skin of the outer ear canal, which moves along the eardrum to the outside.
There is a temporary conductive hearing loss that will be experienced by a patient who displays enough swelling and ear pus to obstruct the opening of the ear.
Other symptoms include complete obstruction of the ear canal, redness and swelling, hyperthermia and swelling in the lymph nodes in the neck making it painful to open the jaw. Factors which can cause weakening of the ears’ protective mechanism and encourage growth of bacteria include excess ear moisture, abrasions in the ear canal and sensitivity reactions from various sources. Individuals with persistent dermatological conditions, including eczema and psoriasis are more predisposed to developing infections involving the outer auditory canal. But self-cleaning efforts must be avoided as these usually cause additional injury to the traumatized skin area, making the condition worse. The physician may then remove the discharge, ear wax and other materials and debris periodically and frequently with suction apparatus or ear curette.


The medications may include an acidic solution which re-establishes the normal environment of the ear canal, corticosteroids which lessen inflammation, antibiotic to treat the infection and antifungal drugs if the condition is fungal in origin. Before it has healed fully, the patient is still more susceptible to develop recurrent infection. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. Factors which can cause weakening of the earsa€™ protective mechanism and encourage growth of bacteria include excess ear moisture, abrasions in the ear canal and sensitivity reactions from various sources.
The causative agent is commonly the bacteria, such as streptococcus, staphylococcus and pseudomonas. This slightly acidic substance creates a slim, water-repellant coating on the skin and discourages bacterial growth. When sweating becomes heavy, or when humid weather is prolonged or when water remains in the ear after swimming, a favorable setting for bacterial growth is created. If an individual is likely to develop the disease, earplugs and bathing caps can be given to them before swimming or taking a bath.
If necessary, place an earplug or cotton wool soaked in Vaseline on the outside when swimming or while taking a shower.
For larger insects, the ear is flushed with mineral oil to suffocate the organism and go to see a doctor for removal. In fact, 2 out of 3 times, when kids get colds, they also wind up with infections in their ears.
It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Oftentimes, the cause is due to water that stays in the ear after showering or swimming, or insertion of foreign implements, thus, creating a suitable and inviting culture media for bacterial growth and proliferation. Additionally, this material accumulates dirt, dead cells and other debris and helps move these elements out of the ear.
Ears can be dried using towel corners or by placing a blow dryer several centimeters away from the ear set at its lowest setting. Removing an object trapped in the ear must not be attempted by anyone, as this can be hard. The main reasons are that their immune systems are immature and that their little ears don’t drain as well as adults’ ears do.
Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. When to call the doctor about an ear infection How to treat your child's ear infection How to prevent an ear infection in your child Do ear tubes help to prevent ear infections? Another useful factor is the downward slope of the ear canal which helps water and other materials to drain out of the canal. Soap and shampoo residues must be cleared immediately as these cause irritation and itching. But even if your kid hasn’t been swimming, a scratch from something like a cotton swab (or who knows what kids stick in there?) can cause trouble. The bug that causes the ear infection can also affect the gastrointestinal tract.Yellow or whitish fluid draining from the ear. Diagnosing an Ear InfectionThe only way to know for sure if your child has an ear infection is for a doctor to check inside her ear with a device called an otoscope.
This is basically just a tiny flashlight with a magnifying lens for the doctor to look through.
The ear helps with equilibrium, so you may notice that your child seems a bit unsteady.How common are ear infections in children?Ear infections are the second most commonly diagnosed illness in children in the United States (after the common cold). Inside Your EarThe Eustachian tube is a canal that connects your middle ear to your throat.
About half of babies have at least one ear infection by the time they turn 1 year old, and most have had at least one ear infection by age 3. Fluid in the EarIf the Eustachian tube gets blocked, fluid builds up inside your child’s middle ear. This makes the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and viruses, which can cause infections.


Your doctor may look inside your child’s ear with an otoscope, which can blow a puff of air to make his eardrum vibrate. Increased tympanostomy tube use contrasts with fewer ambulatory visits for otitis media in the United States: 1996-2006. Bursting an EardrumIf too much fluid or pressure builds up inside your child’s middle ear, her eardrum can actually burst (shown here). The good news is that the pain may suddenly disappear because the hole lets the pressure go. As children grow to adulthood, their tubes triple in length and become more vertical, so fluid can drain more easily.When to call the doctor about an ear infectionCall at the first sign of an ear infection.
Your child may be especially uncomfortable lying down, so he might have a hard time sleeping.
An eardrum that's red, bulging, and possibly draining is probably infected.The doctor may also check whether the eardrum moves in response to a device called a pneumatic otoscope, which releases a brief puff of air into the ear.
Babies may push their bottles away because pressure in their ears makes it hurt to swallow. For years, antibiotics were the first line of defense against an ear infection, but now doctors are prescribing them more cautiously.
Home Care for Ear InfectionsWhile the immune system fights the infection, there are things you can do to fight your child’s pain. Taking too many antibiotics is a concern because it can set children up to be vulnerable to antibiotic-resistant infections.The doctor will consider your child's age and symptoms and decide what's best. Non-prescription painkillers and fever reducers, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, are also an option. The doctor may want to switch medications or start a course of antibiotics if you took the wait-and-see approach.How to prevent an ear infection in your childEar infections aren't contagious, but the respiratory infections that accompany them are. Antibiotics for Ear InfectionsEar infections often go away on their own, so don’t be surprised if your doctor suggests a "wait and see" approach.
Researchers have concluded that kids whose parents smoke are more likely to get ear infections and have hearing problems.Kids living with a smoker have a 37 percent higher risk of middle ear infections and hearing problems and a 62 percent higher risk if the mom is the household smoker. Complications of Ear infectionsIf your child’s ear infections keep coming back, they can scar his eardrums and lead to hearing loss, speech problems, or even meningitis.
Kids are also 86 percent more likely to receive surgery for their middle ear problems when their mothers smoke, compared with children who have no smokers in their household.Even a weekend spent in a house with a smoker can be harmful and raise your child's chances of getting an ear infection. Tobacco smoke seems to suppress the immune system, making it more difficult for your child to fight off infection. Ear TubesFor stubborn ear infections that just won’t go away, doctors sometimes insert small tubes through the eardrums.
This procedure is performed on about 670,000 children in the United States each year.Getting ear tubes inserted is done under general anesthesia.
An otolaryngologist (an ear, nose, and throat doctor) makes a tiny incision in the child's eardrum and inserts a small tube into the slit. Talk with your child's doctor and weigh the pros and cons for you and your child.Are children's ear infections ever serious?They can be.
Tonsils Can Be the CauseSometimes a child’s tonsils get so swollen that they put pressure on the Eustachian tubes connecting her middle ear to her throat -- which then causes infections. Ruptures don't happen very often and generally heal quickly, but it's important to follow up with your child's doctor to make sure the infection has cleared up and that the eardrum is healing well.Repeated ear infections can sometimes cause hearing loss and scarring.
Preventing Ear InfectionsThe biggest cause of middle ear infections is the common cold, so avoiding cold viruses is good for ears, too. Other ways to prevent ear infections include keeping your child away from secondhand smoke, getting annual flu shots, and breastfeeding your baby for at least 6 months to boost her immune system. Allergies and Ear InfectionsLike colds, allergies can also irritate the Eustachian tubes and contribute to middle ear infections.
If you can’t keep your child away from whatever’s bothering him, consider having him tested to identify the triggers.



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