It is a type of infection in the outer ear canal that spread to the eardrum. When we bathe, sometimes we could not feel and water enters our ears. The presence of water inside the ear is an invitation to the bacteria. Water creates a moist environment that helps the 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 it inside our ear which can also lead to a severe swimmer’s ear.
Another name:- Otitis externa
Swimmer’s ear is a different ear infection that a young or adult often gets after a cold.
Common ear infections are called “otitis media” and they happen in the deeper ear behind the eardrum.
• Usually swimmer’s ear is caused by bacteria, but sometimes it can be by fungal or viral infections.
The swimmer’s ear symptoms are usually mild at first, but if left untreated then by the passing of time they can be worse.
Doctors classify a swimmer’s ear according to the condition, so let’s check out its symptoms chronologically;-
Mild signs and symptoms:-
- Itching sensation in the ear
- Slightly redness inside the ear
- Some drainage from the ear is clear, odorless fluid.
- More intense itching
- Increasing pain
- More extensive redness in the ear
- More excessively drainage from the ear
- Feeling of fullness inside your ear canal, swelling, and partial blockage of the ear canal occur
- Severe pain that might radiate to the face, head, and eyes
- Complete blockage of the ear canal
- Redness and swelling in the outer ear
- Swelling in the lymph nodes in the neck
A swimmer’s ear is an infection that is usually caused by the bacteria, it is less common for a fungus or virus to cause a 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 have no external cover that covers our ears from dust, dirt and other filthy substances so have you ever thought that how our ears are 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 has a natural defense system that helps to keep our ears clean and prevent infections”, our ear’s protective feature include;-
- A thin, water-repellent, slightly acid in nature film lines the ear canal that discourages 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 occurs:-
If you have a swimmer’s ear, your natural defense has been overwhelmed. The conditions that often play a role in infection include;-
- Moisture in the ear canal creates an ideal environment for bacterial growth.
- Exposure to contaminated water.
- Damage to the sensitive skin of the ear canal creates an opening for infection.
There are a number of factors that can increase the risk of a swimmer’s ear, including;-
- 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 ruler areas, people use a cotton swab, or stick for cleaning the ear which can cause scratches to the eardrum or severe wounds to the eardrum.
- 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 a higher risk of contamination by bacteria. That bacteria enter our ears through hands or during mouthwash. This can be led to the swimmer’s ear.
- Ear devices:- In this generation, there is a tradition to use earbuds, headphones or other ear devices at high frequency. That can rupture the ear canal and damage to the eardrum.
A 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 occur if someone takes a swimmer’s ear easy.
• Long-term infection ( chronic otitis externa):- An outer ear infection is usually considered 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 airdrops, an allergic skin reaction, a skin condition such as Dermatitis or psoriasis, or a combination of a bacterial and fungal infection.
•Deep tissue infection:- It is a rare condition in which a swimmer’s ear spread into deep layers and connective tissues of the 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 the outer ear and bones of the lower part of the skull, that causes severe pain.
“Older adults, people with diabetes or people with the weak immune system have more chances of osteomyelitis”.
• More widespread infection:- If the swimmer’s ear develops into advanced skull base osteomyelitis, the infection can spread and affect other parts of the body, such as the brain or nearby nerves. This rare complication can be life-threatening.
There are the following precautions that can save you from a swimmer’s ear;-
- Keep ears dry:- After showering or swimming, tip your head to the side so that water drains from the ear canal.
• Dry only the outer ear with the help of a soft dry towel.
• You can safely dry ears with a 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 the following things;-
•1 part white vinegar
• 1 part alcohol
Way to make this homemade treatment:- Add 1 part of 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 is higher.
- Protect ears when swimming:- Wear earplugs or a 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 ear canal, where it can be gently washed away with a damp cloth.
Note:-Earwax usually is useful for our ears, because it prevents dust, bacteria, and other harmful foreign bodies from entering 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 block our ear canal, you can do the following things rather than digging it out;-
• Soften the wax:- Use an eye dropper to apply a few drops of baby oil, glycerine, or diluted hydrogen peroxide in the ear canal.
• Use warm water:- After softening the wax, use a rubber bulb syringe to gently put warm water into the ear.
Tilt the head and pull the outer ear and back to straighten the ear canal. When finished irritating, tip the 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 swimmers’ ears. However, there are a few remedies I am going to list in this article, that can be useful to reduce the chances of a swimmer’s ear.
- Garlic:- As we mentioned in our previous articles that garlic is a natural anti-microbial agent and has some pain-relieving properties.
These properties make 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 affected 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 increases in-ear too, it blocks the ear canal.
The 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 touched with oil, it will get soften.
- After this, remove the wax with a triple or double-layered cotton swab.
Do not put the cotton swabs 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 around the infected ears.
- Be careful, not to get any juice in the ear canal.