ZocdocAnswersWhat is swimmer's ear?

Question

What is swimmer's ear?

Swimming every day at a friend's house and my ears are sensitive to the touch. Is this from swimming, like is it swimmer's ear? I thought that it made the inside of your ears hurt. should I go to the doc or will this stop on its own?

Answer

Swimmer's ear is usually meant to refer to an infection in the outer ear i.e. the part of the ear canal that is in front of the ear drum. So-called inner ear infections are those which occur behind the ear drum. Outer ear infections can be very painful and do often present when patients notice that pressure on their ear (for example when sleeping with that side of the head down) or pressure on the ear lobe is very painful. Swimming is a known risk factor for outer ear infections as exposure to water and any bacteria in the water can lead to painful infection or irritation of the ear canal. Given your new onset of symptoms the best thing for you to do is to see your regular doctor right away for a more thorough exam. You may well have an outer ear infection (i.e. swimmer's ear), but it is also possible that you have an inner ear infection, a problem with your ear drum, or even a foreign body inside the ear canal. Your physician can use an otoscope to take a look inside your ear and evaluate both the ear drum and outer ear canal and determine whether you need additional treatment such as an antibiotic for an ear infection or whether further evaluation with an ear specialist is warranted. In the meantime, you may want to stay out of the pool!

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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