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What You Need to Know About Swimmer’s Ear Hoffman Estates, IL
woman points a finger at her ear

Swimmer’s ear, also known as otitis externa, is a common and often painful condition that affects the outer ear canal. While it is commonly associated with swimming, it can occur in anyone who is exposed to water, particularly if the water is contaminated with bacteria or other pathogens. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for swimmer’s ear is essential for maintaining ear health and preventing complications, especially as more of us are enjoying watersports this summer.

What Causes Swimmer’s Ear?

Swimmer’s ear occurs when water becomes trapped in the ear canal, creating a moist environment that allows bacteria or fungi to grow and multiply. This can lead to inflammation and infection of the ear canal, resulting in symptoms such as pain, itching, redness and swelling. Several factors can increase the risk of developing swimmer’s ear, including:

  • Swimming or immersion in water, particularly in untreated or contaminated water sources such as lakes, rivers, or pools.
  • Trauma or injury to the ear canal, such as from using cotton swabs or inserting foreign objects into the ear.
  • Excessive moisture in the ear canal, which can occur due to humid weather, sweating, or wearing hearing aids or earplugs.
  • Allergies or skin conditions that affect the ear canal, making it more susceptible to infection.

Recognizing the Symptoms of Swimmer’s Ear

The symptoms of swimmer’s ear can vary in severity but often include:

  • Ear pain, which may worsen when pulling or pressing on the outer ear.
  • Itching or discomfort in the ear canal.
  • Redness and swelling of the outer ear or ear canal.
  • Drainage of pus or fluid from the ear.
  • Decreased hearing or a feeling of fullness in the ear.
  • Tenderness or sensitivity to touch around the ear.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is essential to seek prompt medical attention to prevent the infection from worsening and causing complications.

When to Seek Medical or Urgent Care Services

While mild cases of swimmer’s ear can often be treated at home with over-the-counter ear drops and pain relievers, more severe or persistent symptoms may require medical or urgent care services. You should seek medical attention if you experience:

  • Severe or worsening ear pain.
  • Fever or chills.
  • Swelling or redness that spreads beyond the ear canal.
  • Drainage of pus or blood from the ear.
  • Difficulty moving the jaw or neck.
  • Persistent or recurrent episodes of swimmer’s ear.

In some cases, swimmer’s ear can lead to complications such as a middle ear infection (otitis media), cellulitis (a bacterial skin infection), or a boil (abscess) in the ear canal. These complications may require more intensive treatment, including antibiotics or drainage of the infection.

Treatment Options for Swimmer’s Ear

Treatment for swimmer’s ear typically involves clearing the infection and relieving symptoms. This may include:

  • Antibiotic ear drops to eliminate the infection.
  • Pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to alleviate discomfort.
  • Cleaning and drying the ear canal to remove excess moisture and debris.
  • Avoid activities that may aggravate the condition, such as swimming or using earplugs or headphones.

In some cases, your healthcare provider may recommend additional measures to prevent future episodes of swimmer’s ear, such as using ear drops before and after swimming, wearing a swim cap or earplugs or avoiding submerging your head in water.

Swimmer’s ear is a common and potentially painful condition that can occur when water becomes trapped in the ear canal, leading to inflammation and infection. While mild cases can often be treated at home, more severe or persistent symptoms may require medical or urgent care services. If you or a loved one experience symptoms of swimmer’s ear, do not hesitate to contact Rapid Immediate Care for prompt evaluation and treatment at our clinic in Hoffman Estates, IL.

Posted on behalf of Rapid Immmediate Care

925 N Roselle Rd
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169

Phone: (847) 310-3211


Monday - Sunday: 8:00 am - 9:00 pm
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Monday - Sunday: 8:00 am - 9:00 pm

Hoffman Estates

925 N Roselle Rd
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169

Phone: (847) 310-3211