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Swimmer's Ear (cont.)

What are the complications of swimmer's ear?

People with diabetes or those whose immune systems are weakened can develop a more worrisome form of the disorder that might require hospitalization for intensive medical treatment. This is referred to as malignant otitis externa, and is not related to swimmer's ear, per se. If a person is concerned about malignant otitis externa, an evaluation by a health-care professional or an emergency department is imperative as this can be a serious condition. Although the two entities sound the same, they are distinctly different and also are managed differently.

Do I need to follow-up with a doctor for swimmer's ear?

In most cases, no additional care or visits to the doctor are necessary once medication has been prescribed, and the doctor's instructions are followed. If pain increases and swelling or drainage do not decrease within 48 hours, a doctor should be contacted for a follow-up appointment. When a foam wick is placed, it is important to follow-up with a doctor to ensure it is properly and completely removed. Avoid further trauma or the chance of getting moisture in the ear for a couple of weeks after an infection.

  • Swimming, scuba diving, and flying should be restricted until all pain and swelling are gone and no debris remains in the ear canal.
  • Severe, recurrent, or difficult to treat swimmer's ear may be referred to an ear specialist (otolaryngologist).
  • People who have had ear surgery such as tympanic membrane (eardrum) surgery and mastoidectomy (removal of part of the bone behind the ear or removal of the air spaces in that bone) should discuss water sports and ear protection with their ear specialist.
  • People with tubes in their ears (a common technique used to prevent ear infections in smaller children) may also talk with their ear specialist about the best ways to swim and protect their ears at the same time.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/7/2015

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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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