How long can swimmer’s ear last?

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Swimmer’s ear is basically an outer ear infection triggered by irritation, infection or inflammation and medically known as otitis externa. Once treatment is started for this condition, the symptoms typically resolve in a span of a few days. Nevertheless, in some cases of swimmer’s ear, it lasts longer despite first aid care and treatment. Additionally, if the individual was not able to receive proper treatment, it can lead to serious complications.

What is the usual treatment for swimmer’s ear?

Individuals who have swimmer’s ear are usually given antibiotic ear drops for a time frame of 10-14 days. In some cases, those who have inflamed ear canals should apply these drops with the help of an in-ear device known as a wick. The additional treatment options for swimmer’s ear include oral antibiotics, vinegar-based ear drops, ibuprofen and other pain medications, anti-itch and anti-inflammatory medications. The doctor will carefully assess the effectiveness of the treatment. In most cases, the individual can resume swimming or other water activity in a span of a week up to 10 days.

Swimmer's ear
Individuals who have swimmer’s ear are usually given antibiotic ear drops for a time frame of 10-14 days.

Lasting and untreated infections

Some individuals can experience acute cases of swimmer’s ear that respond to a single medical treatment while others develop chronic outbreaks that do not respond to treatment or recur over time. If the individual does not seek treatment for the condition, it has the potential to spread to other parts of the ear or even to an area of the skull connected with the ear. The elderly and individuals who have diabetes can develop a severe form of infection that is known as malignant otitis externa.

How to reduce the risks

You can minimize the occurrence of swimmer’s ear-related complications by seeking medical care if the individual develops any symptoms of the condition including pain that worsens once the ear is pulled, itchiness on the outer ear or in the ear canal, foul-smelling yellowish or greenish drainage and loss of hearing.

There are also additional steps that can help control the condition. The individual must inform the doctor regarding worsening or continuing symptoms during the treatment. If there is onset of fever or other symptoms such as redness or pain in a part of the skull behind the ear, the doctor must also be informed.

Preventive measures

An initial case of swimmer’s ear can be prevented or its recurrence by taking into consideration certain precautions. The common steps include avoiding swimming in polluted or contaminate water, avoiding inserting cotton or any other object into the ear canals, avoiding scratching the ears, wearing earplugs when swimming as well as keeping the water out of the ears when bathing or showering. If the water enters the ears, you can potentially prevent the condition by combining one drop of white vinegar with drop of alcohol and apply this on the ear canals. If the individual develops a lingering case of swimmer’s ear, you have to consult a doctor for appropriate treatment that best suits the condition of the individual.

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