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Swimmer's Ear

What is it??

  • External ear infection
  • 2nd most common water related medical problem
  • Cause
    • Bacteria normally found in ear canal
    • NOT from bacteria in water
  • With frequent immersion:
    • Water swells the cells lining the ear canal
    • Cells pull apart
    • Surface bacteria get underneath skin
    • PH change from slightly acidic to base
    • Warm, moist environment for growth
  • Symptoms
    • Itchy ear canal
    • Thin, white discharge
    • Pain/inflamation
    • Lymph node swelling/pain
    • Pain with moving jaw
  • Prevention
    • Topical ear solution (Bausch & Lomb)
      • 2% acetic acid/aluminum acetate
      • Acid – retards bacterial growth
      • Astringent – draws excess water out of cells
    • Use at least twice daily
    • Solution must stay in 5 minutes*
    • Avoid cerumen buildup
    • Periodic flush with water
    • Do NOT use Q-tips
    • OTC solutions
    • Avoid alcohol-based drops
    • Irritating to ear canal
    • Destroys protective barrier
  • Treatment
    • Requires physician evaluation
    • Cleansing of external ear canal
    • Topical antibiotics
    • Systemic antibiotics – severe cases
    • Pain medication