Ocean Otolaryngology Associates addresses swimmer’s ear.
WALL TOWNSHIP/TOMS RIVER, NJ – Summer is in full swing, the weather is hot and area pools and beaches everywhere are begging you to jump in and cool off. This may seem like a worthwhile endeavor at first, but will your ears agree later? That’s right, this is the season for swimmer’s ear, a painful condition resulting from inflammation, irritation or infection affecting the auricle (outer ear). “These symptoms often occur after water gets trapped in your ear, with subsequent spread of bacteria or fungal organisms,” said Dr. Bruce W. Peters of Ocean ENT. “Because this condition commonly affects swimmers, it is known as swimmer’s ear. However, this condition (also called acute otitis externa) often affects children and teenagers but can also affect those with eczema (a condition that causes the skin to itch), or excess earwax. Your doctor will prescribe treatment to reduce your pain and to treat the infection.”
A common source of the infection is increased moisture trapped in the ear canal from baths, showers, swimming or moist environments. “When water is trapped in the ear canal, bacteria that normally inhabit the skin and ear canal can multiply, causing infection of the ear canal,” said Dr. Peters. “Swimmer’s ear needs to be treated to reduce pain and eliminate any effect may have on your hearing, as well as to prevent the spread of infection.”
Other factors that may contribute to swimmer’s ear include:
Signs and symptoms of swimmer’s ear include itching inside the ear and pain gets worse when you tug on the auricle; a sensation that the ear is blocked or full; drainage; fever; decreased hearing; intense pain that may radiate to the neck, face or side of the head, or swollen lymph nodes around the ear in the upper neck, or redness and swelling around the ear. “If left untreated, swimmer’s ear may result in temporary hearing loss, recurring ear infections or bone and cartilage damage,” said Dr. Peters.
Treatment for the early stages of swimmer’s ear includes careful cleaning of the ear canal and use of eardrops that inhibit bacterial or fungal growth and reduce inflammation. Mildly acidic solutions containing boric or acetic acid are also effective for early infections.
To prevent infections of the ear, Dr. Peters recommends keeping eyes dry and free of moisture; using ear plugs when swimming; using a dry towel or hair dryer to dry your ears; have your ears cleaned periodically by an otolaryngologist if you have itchy, flaky or scaly ears, or extensive earwax. “And, despite popular opinion, you should not use cotton swabs to remove ear wax,” said Dr. Peters. “These swabs may pack ear wax and dirt deeper into the ear canal, remove the layer of earwax that protects your ear, and irritate the thin skin of the ear canal. This creates an ideal environment for infection.”
To learn more or schedule an appointment with Ocean ENT, call 732-281-0100. The Ocean ENT office is open Monday through Friday from 9am to 4pm. For the most up-to-date information, please follow Ocean ENT on Facebook.
About Ocean ENT
Ocean ENT (Ocean Otolaryngology Associates, P.A.) is a respected provider of ear, nose and throat care serving Monmouth and Ocean counties. Ocean ENT’s board-certified physicians have extensive training and clinical experience and pursue ongoing education to stay abreast of the latest trends. A wide range of services, including treatment of sinus disease, thyroid disease, hoarseness, hearing loss, childhood ENT disorders and nasal breathing difficulty are provided at the practice’s Toms River and Manasquan offices. To learn more about Ocean ENT, visit visit https://oceanentnj.com or call 732-281-0100.