Swimmer’s ear, or otitis externa, is an infection in the outer ear canal caused by a build-up of lingering bacteria. This bacteria is brought on by water that remains in your ear for an extended amount of time, creating an overly moist environment.
While most of us know that swimmer’s ear often derives from a day at the pool, it’s important to note that the painful ear condition can happen on dry land, too. In fact, swimmer’s ear is responsible for nearly 2.4 million healthcare visits in the United States each year.
That being said, it’s important to be able to recognize signs of the infection so you can prevent any further build-up of bacteria within your ear. If left untreated, swimmer’s ear can result in an inflamed ear canal and even hearing loss, making it important to keep an eye out for the following symptoms…
1. An Inflamed Outer Ear
One of the first tell-tale signs of swimmer’s ear is redness of the outer ear. This inflammation may cause the outer ear canal to swell, and lymph nodes around the ear may become enlarged and irritable.
As the infection worsens, you may start to experience this next symptom…
2. An Inner Ear Itch
An itchy ear is one of the most common symptoms experienced by those with swimmer’s ear. While the urge to itch your ear might be intense, it’s important to avoid scratching or rubbing your ears during healing.
Surprisingly enough, this infection doesn’t only target your ear…
3. Swollen Neck Glands
It’s likely that someone with swimmer’s ear will experience pain within the ear lobe, but sometimes, this pain spreads down to the neck. This typically only happens in severe cases of the infection, but it’s still crucial that you watch out for this symptom.
This infection can affect your life on a day-to-day basis, and not just because of the pain…
4. Muffled Hearing
If you’ve recently noticed a change in your hearing, this is an important symptom to watch out for in regards to swimmer’s ear. This is a temporary symptom but can be long-term if not treated promptly.
While the next symptom of swimmer’s ear is less common, it’s definitely one you’ll want to look out for…
5. Slight Fever
Swimmer’s ear, as well as plenty of other ear infections, can often result in a low-grade fever. If your body temperature falls between 100.4 and 102.2 degrees with swimmer’s ear, it’s important to contact your doctor to seek treatment immediately. This symptom is less common, but still should be taken seriously.
While you may physically feel many of the symptoms associated with swimmer’s ear, there are some symptoms you can see…
6. A Pus-Filled Ear
When you have swimmer’s ear, pus often drains from your ear. This cloudy or fluid pus may appear to be yellow or yellow-green, and can often disperse an unpleasant smell.
In order to take care of this symptom, be sure to avoid soaking your ear, swimming, or using earbud phones. The pus should subside in about 2 or 3 days.
7. A Clogged Feeling in the Ear
Due to a build-up of water, swimmer’s ear can cause your ear to feel full or clogged. In order to relieve this feeling, there are several at-home remedies you can try for relief. These include jiggling your earlobe, lying on your side for a few minutes, using a blow dryer, and using hydrogen peroxide eardrops.
More often than not, a buzzing or humming sound develops from a clogged ear…
8. Noises in the Ear
The buzzing or humming sounds that come with swimmer’s ear can be one of the most annoying symptoms. This is often a result of tinnitus, which stems from the infection of the ear canal. With proper treatment, the unwanted sound in your ear will go away within 7 to 10 days.