Outer Ear Infection Symptoms and Treatment
The outer ear is the part of your ear that extends from the ear drum through the outer ear canal. An outer ear infection is also known as otitis, otitis externa, swimmer’s ear, or glue ear. An outer ear infection is categorized as mild, moderate or advanced. Outer ear infection symptoms for a mild case include some redness inside the ear, itching, discomfort when you pull on the outer ear, and a bit of draining of odorless, clear fluid. An outer ear infection that is at the moderate stage will have more redness, increased drainage of fluid and pus, stronger pain, increased intensity of itching, muffled or reduced hearing, and the feeling that the ear is full. An advanced outer ear infection has symptoms that include an ear canal that is completely blocked, fever, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, swelling and redness of the outer ear, and extreme pain that can radiate to the side of the head, neck, or face.
You should see a doctor even if you have only mild symptoms of outer ear infection. Bacteria that are found in soil and water are the most common causes of otitis externa. Viral and fungal infections are less common. In mild cases, the ear infection treatment will most likely be drops. Ear drops for swimmer’s ear usually contain one or more of these ingredients; a steroid to bring down inflammation, an antibiotic to kill bacteria, an antifungal medicine, and an acidic solution which will restore the proper environment in the ear. Oral antibiotics may also be prescribed.
While you are being treated for an outer ear infection, there are some things you should avoid. Do not go swimming. Try not to get water into your ear canal when showering or bathing. Stop using hearing aids, earplugs, and headphones until there is no more discharge. Some petroleum jelly on a cotton ball can protect your ears from water. Don’t fly if you can avoid it.