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Swimmer's Ear

#Quarantinelife this year has led to a huge increase for backyard #pools . A backyard pool is a great way to have a #staycation . At the pharmacy, I can tell summer is in full swing when prescriptions for swimmer’s ear products are presented. Swimmer’s Ear, or otitis externa, is an inflammation of the external ear canal. The inflammation can even reach the ear drum, (tympanic membrane).

Swimmer’s ear is most often caused by water that remains in your ear after swimming. The water creates a moist environment allowing bacteria to invade and grow inside the ear canal. Mild symptoms of swimmer’s ear include itchiness and redness of the ear, mild discomfort and a clear discharge from the ear. If left untreated, severe symptoms can include severe pain, blockage of the ear canal, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, and fever.

Try to avoid swimmer’s ear by drying your ears thoroughly after swimming or bathing with a soft towel, using ear plugs, avoid swimming in areas with a high bacterial count and limiting harm to the ear canal. Remember, earwax is protective. Do not try to clean your ear with items like cotton swabs, paper clips or hairpins. These items can scratch the inside of your ear canal and give bacteria a spot to take hold. Over the counter ear drops containing isopropyl alcohol, like Auro Dri , can help dry the ears as well.

Even with mild signs or symptoms, please contact a healthcare professional. Diagnosis and treatment is relatively easy. A simple exam of the ear canal will show inflammation and also show if there is any damage to the ear drum itself, which is a more serious complication. From there, treatment usually involves an antibiotic ear drop with or without a steroid component based on the level of pain, inflammation, presence of ear drum damage and/or tubes. Also, pain relievers #Motrin or #Tylenol can be used to help relieve ear pain. Treatment lasts typically 7 to 10 days, and any exposure to water should be limited to the affected ear(s).

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