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Swimmer's Ear (cont.)

When to Seek Medical Care

Home care for swimmer's ear can be used to control pain temporarily. However, because over-the-counter ear drops are not strong enough to cure the infection, a visit to a health care professional for specific medications as indicated. Swimmer's ear is not an emergency situation in most cases, so call the doctor for an appointment.

Call a health care professional immediately in any of these situations:

  • Pain is not controlled with over-the-counter medicines that are taken as recommended on the label. Any pressure on the outer ear may cause great pain, so it is often difficult to lie down with the affected side against a pillow. Many people with swimmer's ear have trouble sleeping until they get medical attention.
  • The person feels dizzy.
  • The person has any signs of facial weakness or double vision.
  • The person has diabetes or some other condition that prevents the immune system from functioning normally.
  • If there is associated redness or swelling that extends down the neck or along the face from the ear, immediate medical attention should be taught.

Swimmer's ear, in general, is not an emergency. However, the person should go to the emergency department at the hospital if they are experiencing symptoms of swimmer's ear and have diabetes, are running a fever, are experiencing dizziness or facial weakness, or have a history of prior ear surgery.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/17/2013

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Otitis Externa »

Otitis externa is an inflammation or infection of the external auditory canal and/or auricle.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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