Can you establish a connection between swimmer’s ear and swimming in a lake? You may wonder how one can identify a link between these two. Let an ENT doctor in Singapore explain the connection to you.
It is hard to find a more energizing and revitalizing activity than spending some time to swim in a beautiful lake on a hot day. However, you must find ways to protect your ears while swimming. Why? If you experience a condition known as swimmer’s ear, you may face serious consequences. This type of infection forces you to consult with an ENT doctor for treatment. There is no need to panic. This ear infection can be prevented or treated effectively using different ways.
Swimmer’s Ear – An Overview
Swimmer’s ear also known as is Otitis Externa refers to an infection of the ear canal mainly caused by bacteria called Pseudomonas Aeruginosa. This infection may occur on the outer or the external ear canal, i.e. the area ranging from ear opening to the eardrum. When water gets into your ear after swimming, the ear canal becomes a breeding space for bacteria, which in turn results in infection. Other important causes of swimmer’s ear are skin conditions that damage the ear canal, cotton swabs, and hearing aids.
The most common symptoms are drainage, redness of the ear canal, and pain. The intensity of the symptoms varies from person to person. Most people experience intense pain while pushing the cartilage on the ear front or pulling the outer ear. Patients may also experience symptoms like reduced hearing ability, ear pressure, and itching. As the condition deteriorates, you may have to deal with swollen neck lymph nodes, fever, and pain the neck and face.
Is Swimmer’s Ear a communicable infection?
It is not a contagious or communicable infection. When it comes to discovering this condition in children, parents need to look for pain, ear redness, and fluid drainage from the ear. As mentioned above, pain deteriorates when pushing the cartilage on the ear front or pulling the outer ear.
How long does this infection cause issues?
Under normal circumstances, this infection tends to disappear within 7 to 10 days. If the problem gets aggravated, recovery may take several weeks or even months. A mild bacterial infection may disappear without any treatment. However, you need to take treatment as soon as possible to speed up the recovery process.
Swimmer’s Ear – Long term consequences
Long-term consequences due to swimmer’s ear are very rare. The most vital factors that aggravate this condition are skin issues like psoriasis and dermatitis and the presence of highly stubborn bacteria. Patients should not let this infection spread into areas like bone, cartilage, and deep skin layers. Chronic bacterial infection can cause damage even to cranial nerves.
Treatment for swimmer’s ear
An ENT specialist is the best person to approach for treatment. The first treatment phase is to clean the ear to remove debris and drainage. Further, doctors recommend pain medications and antibiotic ear drops. Sometimes, you need to combine the ear drop with a steroid drop to make the recovery process faster.
Best preventive measures
If you maintain your ears dry, you can make yourself less vulnerable to this infection. It is hard to keep the dryness when you swim. The ear wax provides natural protection to a certain extent. You can use earplugs to prevent moisture from entering the ear canal. If you are not experiencing any ear issues, you can use white vinegar or rub alcohol on the ear canal to keep the ears dry. Experts always discourage the use of cotton swabs because they increase the risk of getting vulnerable to the swimmer’s ear.
The relationship between water quality and risk
There is a relationship between water quality and the swimmer’s ear. If you swim in water that contains increased bacteria loads, your chances of getting infected are high.
How is swimmer’s ear different from a middle ear infection?
The similarities of both conditions are drainage, hearing difficulty, and pain. But, you don’t experience intense pain while pushing the cartilage on the ear front or pulling the outer ear if you are suffering from a middle ear infection. You can’t see any ear redness as well.
Is it possible for a swimmer’s ear patient to swim?
The best advice for a swimmer’s ear patient is not to swim before the recovery. You should never create a congenial situation for reinfection because it makes the treatment complex.