Otitis externa is a condition that causes inflammation (redness and swelling) of the external ear canal, which isthe tube between the outer ear and eardrum.
Otitis externa is often referred to as "swimmer's ear" becauserepeated exposure to water can make the ear canal more vulnerable to inflammation.
Symptoms of otitis externa include:
Usually only one ear is affected.
With treatment, these symptoms should clear up within a few days. However, some cases can persist for several months or longer.
Theymay also examine insideyour ear using an instrument called an otoscope.
If you have recurring episodes of otitis externa that haven't responded to treatment, your GP may take a swab of the inside of your ear. This will be tested to help determine what type of infection you have, if any,so appropriate medication can be prescribed.
Most cases of otitis externa are caused by a bacterial infection, althoughthe conditioncan also be caused by:
There are a number of things that can make you more likely to develop otitis externa, including:
Getting water in your ear is particularly significant, because this can cause you to scratch inside your ear, and the moisture alsoprovides an ideal environment for bacteria to grow.
It's estimated that around 1 in 10 people will be affected by it at some point in their lives.
The condition is slightly more common in women than men and is most often diagnosed in adults aged 45 to 75.
People with certain long-term (chronic) conditions are at greater risk of developing the condition.These include:
Otitis externa sometimes gets better without treatment, but it can take several weeks. Your GP can prescribe ear drop medication that usually improves the symptoms within a few days.
There are a number ofdifferent types of ear drops that may be used to treat otitis externa, but they all tend to be used several times a day for about a week.
Your GP may refer you to a specialist for further treatment and adviceif symptoms are severe or they fail to respond to treatment.
One rare complication of otitis externa is malignant otitis externa, whichis where an infection spreads from the ear canal into the surrounding bone.
Thisrequires prompt treatment with antibiotics and sometimes surgery, as it canbe fatal if left untreated.
Otitis externa is a condition that causes inflammation (redness and swelling) of the external ear canal, which is the tube between the outer ear and eardrum.
Otitis externa can cause a number of different symptoms affecting the ear and the surrounding area.
There are several different causes of otitis externa, such as a bacterial infection, a middle ear infection or an allergic reaction.
Otitis externa can usually be treated effectively with ear drops prescribed by your GP and some simple self-care techniques.
Although complications associated with otitis externa are uncommon, there's a small risk of further problems developing.
It's not always possible to prevent otitis externa, but you can reduce your risk of developing the condition.