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Otitis Externa (cont.)

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What are the signs and symptoms of swimmer's ear in children and adults?

  • The first symptom of infection is the ear feeling full, and it may itch.
  • The ear canal swells, and fluid or puss may come from the ear.
  • Swimmer's ear is very painful, especially with movement of the outside portion of the ear.
  • The ear canal can swell shut, and the side of the face can become swell.
  • A sense of fullness in the ear
  • The lymph nodes of the neck may enlarge, making it difficult or painful to open the jaw.
  • People with swimmer's ear may experience some temporary hearing loss in the infected ear.

Other signs and symptoms of an outer ear infection in children include severe pain when the ear is moved, touched, or itched, and irritability. Outer ear infections in children also can be causes by middle ear infections (otitis media) or objects placed in the ear.

What causes acute swimmer's ear infection in children an adults?

Acute external otitis (acute swimmer's ear) is a common bacterial infection caused by Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, or Pseudomonas bacteria. Usually, bacterial ear infections in children and adults are transmitted through excessive water exposure from swimming, diving, surfing, kayaking, or other water sports. When water collects in the ear canal (frequently trapped by wax), the skin can become soggy, which is an incubator for bacteria to collect and grow. Cuts or abrasions in the lining of the ear canal (for example, from cotton swab injuries) also can expose the ear canal to a bacterial infection.

Why do ears itch?

Itchy ears can drive a person crazy. It can be the first sign of an infection, but if the problem is chronic, it is more likely caused by a chronic dermatitis of the ear canal. Seborrheic dermatitis and eczema can both affect the ear canal. There is really no cure for this problem, but it can be made tolerable with the use of steroid drops and creams. People with these problems are more prone to acute infections as well. Use of ear plugs, alcohol drops, and non-instrumentation of the ear is the best prevention for infection. Other treatments for allergies may also help itchy ears.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/9/2018


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