Swimmer's Ear Treatment

You can alleviate some of the pain of swimmers ear with some simple swimmers ear treatment options. Swimmer's ear is an infection of your outer ear and ear canal. It occurs when water gets into your ear and remains trapped in the ear canal. The fluid inside of your ear becomes soggy, decreasing the acidity that normally thwarts infection. You can also get swimmer's ear from a cut in your ear canal that becomes infected with bacteria. You may get the bacteria from swimming in contaminated water or from putting a foreign object, such as a pencil eraser or q-tip, inside your ear. Hair spray can also cause bacteria to grow inside your ear, causing swimmer's ear. If the eardrum ruptures, you can end up with a middle ear infection as well. 

Symptoms
Swimmer's ear generally affects just one ear. You may have swimmer's ear if you have pain when you touch the outer part of your ear or push the little bump in front of your ear. The outside of your ear may also itch. Swimmer's ear can also cause your ear or lymph nodes to swell and leave your ear feeling full.  If you are experiencing muffled hearing, have fluid draining from your ear, or your ear is red with flaky skin, swimmer's ear may be at fault. 

Treating Swimmer's Ear
If you suspect that you have swimmer's ear or an ear infection, it is important that you make an appointment to see your doctor.  She will be able to determine what is causing your symptoms and whether you need antibiotics.  If swimmer's ear is diagnosed, your doctor may treat it in several ways. 

Cleaning
Your doctor may clean your outer ear and ear canal to allow medications to work more effectively.  Do not attempt to clean your ear at home, unless your doctor directs you to, as this can make the infection worse. 

Medication
Your doctor may prescribe ear drops to help clear up swimmer's ear, as well as a corticosteroid which should help with itching and inflammation. She may also advise taking ibuprofen or aspirin to relieve severe ear pain.  Never give aspirin to a person under 19 years of age, as it can cause a serious illness known as Reye's syndrome.

Home Treatment
At home you can apply a warm washcloth to relieve the pain. Try not to aggravate swimmer's ear; don't fly and avoid swimming or getting water in your ears when bathing. 

Prevention
To prevent a future case of swimmer's ear, dry your outer ear after swimming or bathing and don't swim in polluted water. You can use ear plugs to further avoid water getting into your ears.  Don't put objects, including q-tips, into your ear in an attempt to remove ear wax. You can also try mixing one part white vinegar with one part alcohol, pouring it into each ear and letting it drain out before and after swimming. This will prevent the growth of bacteria.

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