Otitis externa

5 Major Causes, Symptoms and Treatment of Otitis Externa

What is otitis externa? In hot weather, water activity is the favorite of many people to cool off the heat. However, whether it is in a swimming pool or in outdoor waters, if the ear is not cleaned immediately after water enters, and symptoms such as ear itching or pain when pressing the ear appear, it may be a disease. In severe cases, otitis externa can lead to fever and hearing loss.

Otitis externa is also known as “Swimmer’s ear”, but in fact, not only swimming or playing in water, but also other reasons can cause otitis externa, what is the cause of otitis externa? What are the symptoms? And how to treat it? Let us take you to learn more about it!

What is otitis externa?

External otitis refers to the inflammatory reaction between the external auditory canal and the ear shell. Otitis externa can also be called Swimmer’s ear. Common pathogenic bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus epidermidis, and Staphylococcus aureus can easily enter the external auditory canal and cause inflammation.

5 major causes of otitis externa

On average, people are most likely to get otitis externa for the following 5 reasons:

  1. Contact with polluted water
    Such as washing hair, swimming or engaging in other water activities, the ear is exposed to unsanitary water environment, which will easily lead to the infection of pathogenic bacteria in the external auditory canal.
  2. Ear trauma
    Ear scratches, excessive use of cotton swabs and other tools to clean the ear canal may damage the skin of the external auditory canal, reduce the defense of the external auditory canal against pathogenic bacteria, and cause otitis externa.
  3. Long-term use of ear-occlusion devices that are not cleaned:
    If ear-occlusion devices such as hearing aids, earphones, or earplugs are used for a long time, it will not only easily irritate the external auditory canal and cause the skin of the ear canal to be scratched, but also if the ear-occlusion device is not cleaned regularly, it may adhere to the disease Bacteria, causing it to invade the external auditory canal and produce an inflammatory reaction.
  4. Suffering from allergic or contact dermatitis
    If you suffer from allergic or contact dermatitis due to contact with certain types of cosmetics or earrings, it may cause otitis externa.
  5. Having other skin disorders
    Skin disorders such as psoriasis or atopic dermatitis, can also cause otitis externa

Ear pressure will hurt! 7 major symptoms of otitis externa

Here are 7 common symptoms of otitis externa:

  1. Pain in the ear (especially felt when the ear is pressed)
  2. Itching in the ear canal
  3. Pus oozing from the ear
  4. Ears feel blocked
  5. Redness and swelling of the external auditory canal
  6. Temporary hearing loss
  7. Fever

Will otitis externa heal by itself?

Mild otitis externa may heal on its own, but if the above symptoms persist for a few days, it is recommended to seek medical advice from an otolaryngologist as soon as possible to avoid worsening symptoms and hearing damage. 

How is otitis externa diagnosed?

The doctor will first conduct basic physical examinations, including pushing the earballs or pulling the ear shells, to confirm whether the patient feels pain, and to observe whether the external auditory canal is red and swollen. He will then cooperate with otoscopy to evaluate whether the patient has otitis media or perforation of the eardrum by observing the color of the earwax. Most people with otitis externa often have yellow, brown, white or gray color of the earwax.

Two common treatments for otitis externa

When a doctor diagnoses otitis externa through the above methods, the following two common treatment methods may be performed for the patient:

  1. Thoroughly clean the ear canal
    In addition to diagnosing otitis externa with an otoscope, doctors will also use it to remove earwax, exfoliated skin, and purulent substances in the ear canal to promote wound healing.
  2. Drug treatment
    For otitis externa with mild symptoms, you can use weakly acidic ear drops to inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria; Ear drops, for sterilization. In addition, the doctor may prescribe steroid ointment to relieve the discomfort symptoms of inflammation, swelling or itching in the affected area, and take oral painkillers to help the patient relieve pain.

How to prevent otitis externa? 3 steps to learn!

In normal times, you need to prevent sewage from flowing into the ear canal and keep your ears dry, but also pay attention to the following 3 points to effectively prevent otitis externa:

  1. In most cases, earwax will be excreted from the external auditory canal through the metabolism of the epidermal cells of the ear canal. Therefore, it is not recommended to use ear sticks or other hard objects to pick the ears, so as not to damage the ear canal and cause otitis externa.
  2. The external auditory canal should be kept dry at ordinary times. If you have suffered from otitis externa, you should use waterproof earplugs when swimming, bathing or washing your hair to avoid secondary infection caused by sewage entering the ear.
  3. Those who wear hearing aids should wipe them clean with a clean soft cloth, facial tissue or wipes after use, and return the hearing aids to the hearing aid company for maintenance on a regular basis for 2 to 3 months; after using the earphones, they should be regularly disinfected or replaced To avoid bacteria breeding in the external auditory canal caused by long-term use, causing otitis externa.

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