There are many people who suffer from pain in their ears even with a gentle touch. Ear infections, though might not look very serious, can have serious repercussions like decreased or loss of hearing. Also known as swimmer’s ear, Otitis Externa affects the outer ear canal leading to the ear drums. The moment Ritika Sharma, a PR executive from Delhi, saw some watery discharge coming out of her ears; she just rushed to the hospital, frantically looking for some medical help. She was told that she was suffering from an ear infection named otitis externa about which she had never heard. Senior Consultant, ENT, Dr Vidit Tripathi from Fortis Flt Lt Rajan Dhall Hospital says, “Also known as acute external otitis, swimmer’s ear, or tropical ear is an infection of the skin covering the outer ear canal that leads to the ear drum, called the tympanic membrane.”
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Symptoms Ear infection can be easily diagnosed with the following symptoms:
- Swelling in the ears
- Pain while touching
- Watery discharge
- Fungal infections
- Ulcers or wax
- Decreased hearing
Even though these might not be the exact causes of otitis externa, but these may very well lead to this infection
- Excess of moisture: This infection is also known as the swimmer’s ear. This happens when the ear is in contact with polluted water for a longer duration. This water can make the ears itchy and scratching inside ears with foreign objects makes the ear vulnerable to infections.
- Chemicals: Use of chemicals like sprays, dyes, ear wax softeners and even chlorine increase the chances of ear infections.
- Prevailing skin conditions: Skin problems like psoriasis, eczema and acne increase the chances of this infection.
- Immune system: Those undergoing cancer treatments or diabetics are at a higher risk of getting otitis externa. Dr Malik adds, “Those having prolonged cough and cold are at a higher risk of getting the ear infection.” “Also boxing or slapping the ear, impure earrings and wax can lead to otitis externa,” adds Dr Tripathi.
Prevention is better than cure
Avoid using foreign objects like pins, buds to clean your ears as that part of the skin is delicate
- Use your little finger to itch your ears
- Keep your ears dry
- While you go out swimming, put petroleum jelly on the cotton or earplugs
Still struggling with the pain, Ritika shares, “The pain that an ear infection can give cannot be explained in words. The sight of seeing your ears having a discharge, acute pain and the tension that the infection does not reach the ear drums scares me."The pain generally lasts for 5-7 days after the treatment is started. A ptient, according to the seriousness of the case, is given antibiotics, painkillers and eardrops to relieve of the pain. If not treated on time, this infection can directly ear drums, resulting in decreased hearing.
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