Ear infections are unpleasant conditions with a host of uncomfortable, but easily treatable, symptoms. Swimmer’s ear, one of the most common infections in the ear, is a type of infection that should be treated immediately if symptoms turn severe.
What is swimmer’s ear?
Swimmer’s ear, also known as otitis externa, is a painful inflammation of the ear canal. Infection is common among swimmers, but it can affect anyone who has excessive moisture in the ear.
The discomfort from swimmer’s ear often starts as localized pain with no apparent source. Then, pain may begin radiating around or within the ear. Additional symptoms of swimmer’s ear include:
If left untreated, swimmer’s ear can lead to severe infection. The sooner the condition is treated, the better.
How do you treat swimmer’s ear?
The best way to treat swimmer’s ear is to monitor its severity, keep the ear dry after showering, and use over-the-counter medications such as ear drops or ibuprofen to alleviate inflammation and swelling.
If there are any noticeable signs the condition is getting worse, it’s crucial to seek medical attention before severe symptoms develop. A medical professional will prescribe ear drops, steroids or antibiotics to help reduce symptoms and treat the infection.
Is swimmer’s ear contagious?
No, swimmer’s ear is not contagious, but it can spread to other parts of the body. If left untreated, the condition can spread to the outer ear cartilage, bones at the lower part of the skull, the brain, nearby nerves, and deeper layers of the skin’s connective tissues.
Should you visit an urgent care or ER for swimmer’s ear?
A walk-in urgent care clinic will be able to diagnose the condition and recommend additional treatment methods, such as over-the-counter medicines, to alleviate any pain associated with the ear canal.
However, in some extreme cases, an emergency room might be the best option to treat swimmer’s ear if the condition results in high fevers, confusion, complete blockage of the ear canal, or severe pain that radiates to the face, neck or side of the head. If children, especially, are experiencing any of these conditions, an ER might be the best choice.
If you’re experiencing extreme pain from swimmer’s ear, seek medical attention immediately and visit ShorePoint Health ER & Urgent Care.
Our approach helps avoid the higher cost of the emergency room when patients require only urgent care services. We practice a straightforward premise: deliver quality care while billing for the appropriate level of care. Our teams are empowered to make decisions as if they were caring for a family member.
We only bill based on the level of care you receive, and there are no appointments needed for in-person visits. The emergency room is open 24 hours a day, every day, and the urgent care walk-in clinic is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
Healthline.com – Chronic Swimmer’s ear
Healthgrades.com – When to See a Doctor for Swimmer’s Ear
The Centers of Disease Control and Preventions – Swimming and Ear Infections –
Teens Health – Swimmer’s Ear (External Otis)