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Swimmer’s Ear: the most common summer ENT problem.

Article

19. 08. 2019

One of the most common ENT problems people face during the summer months is ear pain (otalgia), more specifically, inflammation of the ear canal (otitis externa).

More commonly referred to as swimmer’s ear, it is an inflammatory condition, usually accompanied by severe pain or itching in the area of the ear canal with varying etiology.
 
One of the most common causes of this ear infection is bathing in polluted waters (including sea water,  and chlorinated pool water), as well as the increased air temperatures during the summer months, which increase sweating, and along with it ear wax production. 
 
The intended function of earwax (cerumen) is to protect the ear canal from external polluting agents. It acts as a mechanical barrier and creates an acidic environment that has bactericidal properties. The problem occurs when the ear-canal loses its self-cleaning abilities and the earwax accumulates. This creates a blockage in the ear canal, which leads to local irritation and subsequently inflammation. The liquid that would usually drain out of the ear after swimming is held in and the bacteria and yeast multiply. 
 
One of the most effective ways of prevention is the examination and potential cleaning of the ear canal by a specialist, especially in individuals who have suffered with swimmers ear in the past, and are planning on going on holidays. In addition, the innate protective functions of the ear canal can be increased by the use of oil drops (they help dissolve excess ear wax and nourish the mucous membrane). 
 
Due to the diverse etiology, the treatment options also vary, especially if the infection is already fully established and showing signs and symptoms. Bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics (usually local, but in severe cases general), and fungal infections are treated with antifungal agents. For eczematous presentations, the ear is treated with local corticoid creams or antieczematics. The increased pressure caused by the inflammation of the ear canal puts force on the eardrum, which makes it bulge and causes severe pain, which can be treated by local analgesics during the acute phase  and icing the ear. 

In case of any ENT related problems, please contact us at: +420235360133.

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