Ear Pain

The only way to determine the cause of a child’s ear pain is for your physician to look in the ear.

What is otitis externa?

Otitis externa, also called swimmer’s ear, is an inflammation of the external ear canal. Swimmer’s ear is caused by fungi or bacteria. Water that remains trapped in the ear canal (when swimming, for example) may provide a source for the growth of bacteria and fungi.

What causes swimmer’s ear?

Many different factors can increase your child’s chance of developing swimmer’s ear. As the name implies, one of the factors is excessive wetness as with swimming, although it can occur without swimming. Other possible causes of this infection include the following:

  • Being in warm, humid places.
  • Harsh cleaning of the ear canal.
  • Trauma to the ear canal.
  • Dry ear canal skin.
  • Foreign body in the ear canal.
  • Lack of cerumen (ear wax).
  • Eczema and other forms of dermatitis.

What are the symptoms of swimmer’s ear?

The following are the most common symptoms of swimmer’s ear. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Redness of the outer ear.
  • Itching in the ear.
  • Pain, especially when touching or wiggling the ear.
  • Drainage from the ear.
  • Swollen glands in the neck.
  • Swollen ear canal.
  • Hearing loss.

The symptoms of swimmer’s ear may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your child’s physician for a diagnosis.

How is swimmer’s ear diagnosed?

Swimmer’s ear may be diagnosed with a complete medical history and physical examination by your child’s physician. Your child’s physician may use an otoscope, a lighted instrument that helps to examine the ear and to aid in the diagnosis of ear disorders. Your child’s physician may also take a culture of the drainage from the ear to help determine proper treatment.

What is Otitis Media?

Otitis Media is an infection in the middle ear. Your child’s physician will need to look in the ear to diagnosis otitis media. Although this infection usually does not occur with swimmer’s ear, some children may have both types of infections.

Treatment of swimmer’s ear

Swimmer’s ear, when properly treated by a physician, usually clears up within seven to 10 days. Specific treatment for swimmer’s ear will be determined by your child’s physician based on:

  • Your child’s age, overall health and medical history.
  • Extent of the condition.
  • Your child’s tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies.
  • Expectations for the course of the condition.

Call our office

  • Immediately if your child starts acting very sick or their ear pain becomes severe.
  • During regular hours if the symptoms are not cleared up in 3 days, a fever over 100⁰F (37.8C) occurs, if pain or drainage from the ear continues, or if you have any other concerns or questions
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