Swimmer’s Ear (Otitis Externa) is an infection of the external auditory canal.  It is often related to swimming, but not always.  It can be caused by scratching the ear or by aggressive cleaning.  A person may feel ear pain, swelling, blockage, itching or discharge.  Rubbing, inserting Q-tips, or getting it wet in a pool or shower can make it worse.

These symptoms may also be due to other causes, such as middle ear infection (generally associated with cold or sinus symptoms) or obstruction by earwax and sometimes even a sore throat or toothache can be associated with ear pain.  The ear canal is usually swollen and sore to the touch.

The infection is usually treated with antibiotic eardrops and sometimes also with an oral antibiotic.  Sometimes the canal is so narrow that a wick must be inserted to allow the eardrops to reach the entire ear canal.  The infection should resolve within a week or two with treatment.

Ear pain or discomfort, ear infection and/or swimmer’s ear, as described, are best treated by a medical professional.  Our board-certified emergency medicine physicians at AFC Urgent Care Waltham are available to treat patients of all ages from 8am to 8pm every day. No appointment or referral is needed.

Please visit our website for more information or to register online to see a physician.

By Dr. Sophia Hill