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Swimmer's ear - chronic

  • Alternative Names

    Ear infection - outer ear - chronic; Otitis externa - chronic


    Treatment

    The goal is to cure the infection, usually with ear drops containing antibiotics.

    Other treatments include:

    • Corticosteroids to reduce itching and inflammation
    • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) to help relieve pain
    • Vinegar (acetic acid) drops

    If the ear canal is very swollen, a wick may be placed in the ear to allow the drops to travel to the end of the canal.

    In elderly people or those who have diabetes and persistent ear pain or drainage, malignant otitis externa is a possibility. Malignant otitis externa is treated with high-dose antibiotics given through a vein (intravenous).


    Support Groups


    Expectations (prognosis)

    Chronic swimmer's ear usually responds to treatment. Treatment may be prolonged or repeated. If untreated, complications may develop.


    Complications
    • Infection of the surrounding skin
    • Malignant otitis externa, which can cause bone infection, hoarseness, and difficulty swallowing

    Calling your health care provider

    Call for an appointment with your health care provider if:

    • You have symptoms of chronic swimmer's ear
    • Acute swimmer's ear does not respond to treatment