It is a type of infection in the outer ear canal which spread to eardrum. When we bathe, sometimes we could not feel and water enters in our ears. The presence of water inside the ear is an invitation to the bacteria. Water creates a moist environment that help to growth of bacteria inside our ears.
So, “ Swimmer’s ear is a condition in which the bacterial infection occurs inside our ear”
Sometimes we put our fingers or any cotton swab and stick inside our ear that can also lead to the severe swimmer’s ear.
Another name:- Otitis externa
Swimmer’s ear is different ear infections that young or adult often gets after a cold.
Common ear infections are called “otitis media” and they happen in deeper ear behind the eardrum.
• Usually swimmer’s ear is causes by the bacteria but sometimes it can be by fungal or viral infections.
The swimmer’s ear symptoms usually mild at first, but if it left untreated then by the passing of time they can be worse .
Doctor’s classify swimmer’s ear according to the condition, so let’s check out it’s symptoms chronologically;-
Mild signs and symptoms:-
• itching sensation in ear
• Slightly redness inside the ear
• Some drainage from ear that is clear, odorless fluid.
• More intense itching
• Increasing pain
• More extensive redness in ear
• More excessively drainage from the ear
• Feeling of fullness inside your ear canal, swelling and partial blockage of ear canal ooccurs
• Severe pain that might radiate to face, head and eyes
• Complete blockage of ear canal
• Redness and swelling in outer ear
• Swelling in the lymph nodes in neck
Swimmer’s ear is an infection that usually caused by the bacteria, it less common for a fungus or virus to cause swimmer’s ear
So let’s check out possible reasons for swimmer’s ear;-
To understand the reason first we should learn something new about our ears;-
- Our ears has no external cover that covers our ears from dust, dirt and other filthy substances so have you ever thought that how our ears protected by dirt and other harmful external substances, wait I am going to tell you how our ears got protected from many external infections so let’s check out the below lines;-
“Our outer ear canal have natural defence system that help to keep our ears clean and prevent from infections”, our ear’s protective feature include;-
- A thin, water-repellent, slightly acid in nature film lines the ear canal that discourages the bacterial growth.
- It is called “Earwax”
- Earwax is a sticky material, that is oily in nature
- It is an accumulation of this thin, water-repellent slightly acid waxy film, dead skin cells and other debris that travels to the opening of the ear canal to keep it clean.
- The outer ear particularly around the opening of the ear canal, helps prevent foreign bodies from entering.
How the infection occur:-
If you have swimmer’s ear your natural defense have been overwhelmed. The conditions that often play a role in infection include;-
- Moisture in the ear canal that creates an ideal environment for bacterial growth.
- Exposure to contaminated water.
- Damage to the sensitive skin of the ear canal that creates an opening for infection.
There are number of factors that can increase the risk of swimmer’s ear include;-
- Excess moisture in the ear canal:- It happens from heavy perspiration, prolonged humid weather or water remaining in the ear after swimming or showering.
- Cleaning the ear canal:- Commonly in the rular areas of India , people use a cotton swab, stick for cleaning the ear which can cause scratches to ear drum or severe wound to ear drum.
- Exposure to the high contaminated places:- While traveling we use any type of water for mouthwash, drinking or sanitization. In this type of water there is higher risk of contamination of bacteria.
That bacteria enters in our ear through hands or during mouthwash. This can be lead to swimmer’s ear.
4.Ear devices:- In this generation there is a tradition to use earbud, headphones or other ear devices at high frequency. That can rupture ear canal and damage to ear drum.
Swimmer’s ear usually is not serious if treated promptly, but if left untreated some serious can complications occur;-
• Temporary hearing loss:- Yes, temporary hearing loss may be occurs if someone take swimmer’s ear easy.
• Long term infection ( chronic otitis externa):- An outer ear infections is usually consider a chronic if signs and symptoms persist for more than 3 months.
Chronic infections are more common if there are conditions that make treatment difficult, such as a rare strain of bacteria, an allergic reaction to antibiotic eardrops, an allergic skin reaction, a skin condition such as Dermatitis or psoriasis or a combination of a bacterial and a fungal infection.
•Deep tissue infection:- It is a rare condition in which swimmer’s ear spread into deep layers and connective tissues of skin.
• Bone and cartilage damage (osteomyelitis):- This is also a rare condition of swimmer’s ear that occurs as the infection spread to the cartilage of outer ear and bones of the lower part of the skull, that cause severe pain.
“Older adults, people with diabetes or people with weak immune system have more chances of osteomyelitis”.
• More widespread infection:- If swimmer’s ear develops into advanced skull base osteomyelitis, the infection can spread and affect other parts of body, such as the brain or nearby nerves. This rare complication can be life-threatening.
There are following precautions that can be save you from swimmer’s ear;-
- Keep ears dry:- After showering or swimming, tip your head to the side so that water drain from ear canal.
• Dry only outer ear with the help of soft dry towel.
• You can safely dry ears with blow- dryer.
Precautions during use of blow- dryer
- Put in on the lowest setting.
- Hold it at least one foot away from the ears.
- Preventive treatment at home:- You can also make a preventive treatment at home, you just need following things;-
•1 part white vinegar
• 1 part alcohol
Way to make this home made treatment:- Add 1 part white vinegar into the 1 part of rubbing alcohol.
This solution promotes the drying of ears and it also helps to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungus in the ear canal.
Before and after swimming, pour 1 tablespoon of the solution into each ear and let it drain back out.
- Swim wisely:- Don’t swim in lakes or rivers on days when the risk of bacterial infections are higher.
- Protect ears when swimming:- Wear earplugs or swimming cap while swimming to keep your ears dry.
- Protect ears from irritation:- Put triple layered cotton swab while cleaning the ears.
What to do about earwax:- Earwax Usually settles down in the opening of the ears canal, where it can be gently wash away with a damp cloth.
Note:-Earwax usually are useful for our ears, because it prevents the dust, bacterias and other harmful foreign bodies to entering into the ear.
So don’t do much to remove ear wax let’s do ear wax their work.
But if it is excess in our ear then it can be block our ear canal, you can do following things rather than digging it out;-
• Soften the wax:- Use eye dropper to apply few drops of baby oil, glycerine or diluted hydrogen peroxide in ear canal.
• Use warm water:- After soften the wax, use a rubber bulb syringe to gently put warm water into ear.
Tilt head and pull outer ear and back to straighten ear canal. When finished irritating, tip head to the side to let the water drain out.
• Dry ear canal:- After washing with warm water,gently dry the outer ear with a towel or blow dryer.
Home remedies for Swimmer’s ear
There are very few home remedies for swimmer’s ear. However there are few remedies I am going to listing on this article, that can be useful to reduce the chances of swimmer’s ear.
- Garlic:- As we mentioned on our previous articles that garlic is a natural anti-microbial agent and has some pain relieving properties.
These properties makes garlic a perfect home remedy for Swimmer’s ear.
There are several ways to employ garlic as a natural earache remedy.
- Make your own garlic oil, by cooking two cloves in two tablespoons of mustard oil until it becomes black in colour, strain the liquid and when it is just hot enough for bearable, put a few drops in the effected ears.
- Be sure to use a clean dropper for this method.
- In addition you can also consume a few cloves of fresh garlic daily to help to boost immunity and speed up healing.
- Olive oil:- When the amount of ear wax increase in ear, it blocks the ear canal.
Ear canal can be easily cleaned with the help of olive oil.
- Warm up the olive oil on low heat.
- Cool for some minutes.
- Put that oil into the ears.
- When the wax got in the touch with oil, it will get soften.
- After this remove the wax by a triple or double layered cotton swab.
Do not put cotton swab too far in the ear, as it may damage the eardrum.
- Basil:- Basil is a potent antimicrobial agent.
- Crush the basil five fresh leaves very gently and expel the juice.
- Apply basil juice on around the infected ears.
- Be careful, not to get any juice in the ear canal.