External otitis or “swimmers ear” is an infection of the skin lining the ear canal. The ear canal is usually protected by earwax, which is both acidic and acts as a protective layer for the ear canal, providing a thin coating in which to repel water and moisture. It is normal to have earwax, however some people tend to have an abundance of earwax and may need to have their ears cleaned out every once and a while.
If your ear canals are exposed to excessive moisture from swimming, sweating, bathing, etc. the moisture thins out the protective wax coating and decreases the ear canal acidity making you susceptible to an external ear infection. Swimmers ear or external ear infections can be very painful and without proper treatment the canal can swell until it is almost shut. In some extreme cases of external ear swelling due to infection, an ear wick may have to be placed.
PREVENTIVE MEDICAL TREATMENT CONSISTS OF:
It is very important to keep your ear canals dry while you are being treated, such as having infections or when receiving pressure equalizing tubes.When bathing or showering you should use a cotton ball coated with Vaseline inserted into the outer potion of the ear canal to prevent water from entering the canal.No swimming at all is recommended.
Do not wear earplugs or hearing aids until the external ear infection is cleared up.
Use Vinegar (any brand or color) Instill 4 drops or 1 teaspoon into the infected ear 3 times a day for 7 days. You may warm the vinegar to help ease the pain, and if at all possible have someone else put the drops in your ear.
Lie down on your side with infected ear up to help vinegar travel to the site of infection. You may put a cotton ball in the “pocket” of you ear to absorb excess drops when you stand or sit up, don’t worry not all the drops will come out after sitting up.
After treatment you may need to have the doctor clean you ear of excess drops and/or cellular debris. If you are not better after 7 days you will need to make an appointment for further evaluation.
To prevent future problems be sure to drain water from ears by tilting you head and massaging the cartilage in front of the ear canal. You may use vinegar as a preventative measure if your ears get wet or you may apply vinegar nightly as a preventive ear infection treatment at bedtime.
Do not use peroxide or alcohol in your ears, it is best to always let a medical professional clean out your ears.
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