Acute swimmers ear is a common condition that can occur after swimming, showering or any other activity that involves water getting trapped in the ear. It is characterised by irritation and pain in the ear, swelling of the ear canal and discharge of pus.

Severe swimmers ear can be treated with over-the-counter medications and home remedies, but in some cases, medical treatment may be needed. In this article, we will discuss the various treatments available for severe swimmers ear:

What is swimmer’s ear?

Swimmer’s ear is a painful infection of the outer ear canal, which runs from your eardrum to the outside of your head. It is also known as otitis externa. Swimmer’s ear is caused by bacteria growing in warm, moist conditions inside your ear canal and can also be triggered by viruses or fungi.

Symptoms of swimmer’s ear typically include:

  • Pain when moving the outer part of the ear
  • Itchiness and a feeling of fullness in the ear
  • Tenderness and swelling in the outer part of the ear
  • Discharge from the affected area that can be clear liquid or pus containing discharge.

Someone with severe swimmer’s ear may experience:

  • Fever
  • Severe pain that spreads to nearby areas like their jaw
  • Trouble hearing
  • Swollen lymph nodes on their neck under their jawbone near their ears.

Treating swimmer’s ear usually requires antibiotics as prescribed by a doctor. Over-the-counter pain medication may also be used to ease symptoms until treatment with antibiotics takes effect. To reduce further irritation and inflammation, keep affected ears dry at all times; wear a swimming cap or keep cotton balls soaked in rubbing alcohol next to your head when swimming; take regular showers or baths instead of swimming until infection has cleared up; avoid putting any objects into your ears and apply antiseptic solutions like diluted hydrogen peroxide or over-the-counter solutions specifically for swimmers’ ears after swimming and showering.

Symptoms of swimmer’s ear

Swimmer’s ear is an infection of the outer ear canal, caused by a bacteria or fungus. Typical signs and symptoms of swimmer’s ear may include:

  • An itchy feeling inside the ear.
  • Pain in the affected ear that worsens when you pull on the ear lobe or when you chew.
  • Redness and swelling of the skin in the outer ear canal.
  • Drainage of a whitish fluid or pus from the affected ear.
  • A feeling of fullness in your affected ear.
  • Partial or complete hearing loss in your affected ear.

Some people may also have a fever if they have swimmer’s ear caused by a bacterial infection.


Treating severe swimmer’s ear can be done both at home and with medical assistance. Home treatment involves keeping the ear dry, and cleaning it with a vinegar-alcohol solution. Medical treatment involves draining the ear of fluid, as well as antibiotics.

In this section, we’ll take a look at the treatment options available, so you can decide which is best for you:

Home remedies

Swimmer’s ear is an infection caused by water becoming trapped in the ear canal and creating a moist environment that promotes the growth of bacteria. To treat this condition, many people rely on home remedies to soothe symptoms and fight infection. The treatment method recommended for swimmers ear differs from person to person depending on its severity and cause.

Typically, home remedies are used as the primary form of treatment before seeking out medical care. These remedies may include using over-the-counter eardrops, warm compresses and keeping dry. Additionally, dietary modifications may also help limit recurrences of the condition by providing essential nutrients that aid in healing inflammation or infection. Some common home remedies include:

  • Apple Cider Vinegar: This acidic solution can be diluted with warm water and few drops added to the affected ear 2 or 3 times daily to reduce pain/itchiness and fight bacteria.
  • Olive Oil: This oil acts as a natural moisturizer when added sparingly to the ear canal several times per day for one week or more. It helps keep moisture away from infected areas while helping healing stay unbroken so it can pass its own defenses against infection more quickly.
  • Garlic: This age old remedy has both antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties which make it a great choice for soothing swimmer’s ear symptoms like redness/swelling around outer edges of outer canal as well as reducing pain/discomfort due to itching sensations in affected area. A garlic poultice made from 1 minced clove mixed with some olive oil should be gently warmed up, then applied directly onto skin outside all around outer edge of ear canal (but not directly INSIDE) before bedtime each night until symptoms subside.
See also  How many frames per second for a video?

Using these simple home remedies has shown promise in easing swimmer’s ear when combined with other treatments such as antibiotics or steroid based ointments depending on severity of infection or degree of inflammation present in individual cases…

Over-the-counter medications

The first line of treatment for swimmers ear is to frequently apply drops of a mixture of half rubbing alcohol, half white vinegar to the ear canal once or twice a day. This home remedy does not work for everyone and, if it does not provide relief, more aggressive steps must be taken.

Common over-the-counter medications recommended for treating swimmers ear include anhydrous glycerin, mineral oil and topical acetic acid. These treatments are most effective when applied two or three times daily but should only be used after consulting with a doctor. Benzocaine-based products such as Aurodex Otic Solution and Americaine Otic are also available without a prescription and may reduce swelling in the affected area.

In more severe cases of swimmers ear, prescription antibiotics or anti-fungal creams may be prescribed by your doctor in order to clear up the infection within a week or two. If this method of treatment fails in eradicating the infection then tympanostomy tubes can be inserted into the eardrum by your physician to provide direct drainage of excess fluid and wax buildup in the inner ear canal which could be contributing to swimmer’s ear symptoms.

Prescription medications

When over-the-counter treatments are not effective in treating severe swimmers ear, or the infection has reached a serious state, a doctor may prescribe an eardrop solution which contains antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and/or antifungal ingredients to reduce pain and help heal the skin of the ear canal. Depending on the severity of symptoms, your doctor may also suggest oral medication such as antibiotics or antihistamines.

In cases of severe infection or intense pain, your doctor may opt for overnight intravaginal application of an eardrop solution followed by careful packing using absorbent cotton and gauze alongside antibiotics. This treatment routine can usually last between one to two weeks.

If perforation of the eardrum is suspected, you must abstain from any potential water exposure until it heals fully and all medications (including over-the-counter drugs) must be prescribed by your doctor after consultation.


When swimmer’s ear does not improve with antibiotics and other medical interventions, surgery may be recommended. Depending on the severity of the infection and the damage to the ear canal and eardrum, a doctor may needed to:

  • Remove blockages in the ear canal
  • Remove excess tissue
  • Reconstruct areas of cartilage that might have been damaged

Additionally, an incision or suction might be used to drain any abscesses or pockets of pus.

In general, doctors strive to avoid surgery in cases of swimmer’s ear if possible due to concerns about scarring in the delicate structures of the external ear canal. Surgery is also expensive and risky and should only be performed as a last resort after all other treatments have been tried.


Prevention is the best cure for severe swimmers ear. Keeping your ears clean and dry is the most important thing you can do to prevent severe swimmers ear. Avoiding water in the ears, wearing earplugs or a swim cap, and avoiding cleaning your ear canals with q-tips are all important preventative measures.

Let’s look further into the different ways to prevent swimmers ear:

Wear ear plugs when swimming

Wearing ear plugs or headbands when swimming can help prevent swimmers ear by keeping water out of the ears and is an especially important habit for young swimmers or anyone who swims frequently. Make sure that you replace your earplugs often to ensure they form a good seal and check them for tears or other damage before reuse.

There are also specially designed ear plugs available that allow the wearer to hear clearly while keeping the water out of the ears. Avoid any home remedies such as cotton balls, alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide as these can lead to further complications if used incorrectly.

Dry your ears after swimming

When you come out of the water, use a towel to carefully dry each ear separately. Tilt your head to each side and press against your ears with the towel, wiping away as much moisture as possible. Avoid using cotton swabs in your ear canal, because this can push bacteria and fungi further into your ear, leading to an infection. Instead, dry the outside of and behind each ear with the towel or a hairdryer on a low-heat setting.

After drying off, medications may help reduce moisture in your ear canals if you find yourself particularly prone to swimmers’ ear. When used properly and directed by a physician, topical preparations such as swimmer’s drops containing one percent hydrocortisone/antihistamine formulations are often recommended for prevention or clearing infection. It’s essential that you follow instruction when it comes to dosage and application frequency; contact your doctor if you need help with proper treatment of swimmers’ ear.

See also  How to start a Cisco smart switch?

Avoid putting objects in your ear

It is important to never put any objects into the ear canal, including swabs or fingers. Doing so can push the infection further into the ear and cause additional complications. Additionally, it is important to keep all foreign objects out of the ear canal to avoid injury or irritation that could lead to infection.

When showering or swimming, it is important to use a form of earplugs or swim mufflers in order to keep water from entering the ear. This will help reduce irritation caused by water getting trapped in the ear canal as well as reduce potential infection. It is also recommended that you wear a swimming cap while swimming if possible in order to create a barrier between your ears and chlorinated water.

It is advisable when using certain types of creams, oils, sprays or drops for comfort or hygiene – not for medical use – used in your ears that you always read and follow instructions carefully as referred on their label.

When to see a doctor

Swimmer’s ear is an infection of the outer ear canal caused by bacteria and can cause severe pain and discomfort. In cases of severe swimmer’s ear, it is important to seek medical help. Early diagnosis and treatment is key to preventing further complications.

In this section, we will discuss the signs and symptoms which warrant a doctor’s attention, as well as when and how to treat the infection.

Severe pain

If you are suffering from severe pain or fever, it is time to visit your doctor. Since swimmers ear can lead to more serious complications like infection, abscess, and hearing loss, it is important for any sharp pains to be seen by a medical professional so that further damage can be avoided and treated correctly.

In addition, if any other unusual symptoms occur like drainage from the ear canal or swollen glands in the neck, a doctor should be consulted as soon as possible. It is also recommended that those with diabetes or poor immunity due to health problems or those who are immunocompromised should see a doctor right away as these conditions make individuals more prone to infection and require more serious treatment.

Discharge from the ear

Discharge from the ear (otorrhea) is one of the most common signs of severe swimmers ear. The fluid taken away will appear yellow, gray or white, and may be odorous. If you notice a significant discharge or excess amounts of wax, you should visit your doctor immediately as it could be a sign of infection or another problem.

Your doctor can diagnose swimmer’s ear and prescribe appropriate treatment options for your symptoms. This may include pain relief medication and antibiotics to treat infection if necessary. Serious infections may require steroids or surgery to evaluate the severity and drain any trapped fluid from the inner ear canal. Treatment should begin promptly in order to reduce the risk of worsening symptoms, hearing loss or permanent damage to the middle and inner ear structures.

If you have frequent instances of swimmer’s ear which are not responding to medication or home remedies, your doctor may suggest various options including:

  • Avoiding swimming when infected.
  • Using special earwax reducing drops – sold in pharmacies – every few days.
  • In some cases, such as with recurring swimmer’s ear infections, an ENT (ear-nose-throat) specialist may need to be consulted for further diagnosis and treatment.

Signs of infection

Swimmer’s ear (otitis externa) is an infection of the outer ear and lining of the ear canal which is common after swimming in contaminated water. It is caused by bacteria, fungi or a virus and can affect one or both ears. While most cases are mild, some infections become severe and require medical attention. Knowing the signs of infection are important so you can seek treatment right away to help decrease your risk of complications associated with prolonged infection.

Signs that you may have developed a severe swimmers ear infection include:

  • Foul-smelling discharge from the affected ear
  • Severe swelling in the outer portion of your ear
  • Pain when wiggling your ears or touching your outer ear
  • Fever above 101 °F (38 °C)
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Trouble hearing sounds

If you experience any of these symptoms when trying to treat swimmers ear at home, it’s important to see a doctor right away so they can begin treating your infection as soon as possible. Your doctor can prescribe appropriate antibiotics and/or other medications depending on your specific case.

See also  When did OneWest Bank sell financial freedom?


Swimmer’s ear is a common condition in both adults and children. If left untreated, it can lead to more serious complications. These complications can include hearing loss, permanent damage to the ear and even infection of the bones around the ear.

So, it is important to understand the potential complications and how to prevent them in order to properly treat swimmers ear.

Hearing loss

In cases of untreated chronic swimmer’s ear it can result in irreversible hearing loss. This is because the infection can damage the underlying structures in the middle ear, leading to scarring, ossicular destruction and subsequent hearing impairment.

The degree of hearing loss will depend on how long it has lasted and how severe it was. Hearing loss caused by swimmer’s ear can vary from mild to severe. Mild hearing loss may be able to be improved with medical intervention if caught early, and any resulting conditions, such as tinnitus, may lessen or go away entirely with protocoled care. Severe levels of hearing loss caused by chronic swimmer’s ear may be permanent, although there are measures that can be taken to minimize its effects.

These measures include:

  • A thorough evaluation of the condition by an audiologist or otolaryngologist (ENT specialist).
  • Proper health care management (including antibiotics or antifungals).
  • Debridement with a specialized instrument (to remove excess wax and debris from the ear canal).
  • Daily cleansing of the ears with specific solutions suggested by your doctor such as hydrogen peroxide or white vinegar mixed equal parts water).

Over time these treatments will help improve hearing and reduce further damage caused by the infection.


Tinnitus is an auditory hallucination or phantom sound perceived in one ear or both ears. It is a common symptom associated with swimmers ear and other ear infections, as well as exposure to loud noise. Tinnitus can be perceived as ringing, whistling, buzzing or clicking in the ears, and can range from mild to severe in intensity.

While tinnitus itself is not a medical condition, it is a sign that something else may be wrong in your ears. Many cases of tinnitus are temporary and can be relieved through simple treatments like avoiding loud noises and reducing stress levels. In cases where tinnitus persists and becomes debilitating or negatively affects quality of life, medical treatments may be necessary to help reduce the condition’s severity.

Some popular treatments for tinnitus include:

  • Sound therapy – incorporating different sound therapies like white noise machines or devices which generate calming music
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – used to identify any negative thought patterns surrounding your tinnitus symptoms
  • Acoustic Neuromodulation (ANM) – involves using low level electric stimulation of the nerves around the inner ear to reduce hyperactivity associated with tinnitus
  • Medications – depending on the cause of your symptoms your doctor may prescribe certain medications to help alleviate them
  • Surgery – if there is physical evidence that could explain your symptoms such as a tumor or an obstruction within the auditory system; then surgery may be recommended

For cases of swimmers ear requiring medical attention, especially if accompanied by chronic “ringing” noises (tinnitus), seeing an ENT will ensure you receive the proper diagnosis and treatment plan for your individual needs.


Vertigo is a common complication of otitis externa, or severe swimmer’s ear. People with vertigo will experience feelings of dizziness and loss of balance, as well as nausea and vomiting. Generally, vertigo is thought to be caused by inflammation in the inner ear or the nerve that links the inner ear to the brain.

There are several treatments for vertigo caused by severe swimmer’s ear. The first line of treatment is usually bedrest to reduce symptoms and prevent further damage to the inner ear. Antihistamines and anti-inflammatories are also often prescribed to reduce swelling and associated symptoms. Ocular motor exercises may also be prescribed to help alleviate vertigo symptoms; they involve specific eye movements designed to move fluid around in the semicircular canals in order to recalibrate the vestibular system. These exercises should only be done under medical supervision since incorrect techniques can worsen vertigo symptoms. Counter-pressure maneuvers such as Epley’s Manoeuvre may also provide immediate relief from vertigo symptoms for some people (these should also be done under medical supervision).

If these treatments don’t provide adequate relief from symptoms then a course of steroids may be recommended in order to reduce inflammation in the inner ear or auditory nerve. In very severe cases, surgery might become necessary if all other options have been exhausted; this would involve either decompression of nerves or insertion of prosthesis into hearing organ structures in order to restore balance function (this should only ever be done under medical supervision due to associated risks).

By Reiki

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *