Otitis externa is infection of the external ear and ear canal. It often starts with irritation and itching. It then progresses to pain, discharge, redness and hearing loss from blockage of the ear canal with dead skin, wax and pus. The problem can keep coming back. This can lead to misery, time off work and missing out on your favourite hobbies. You can lose sleep and it can make you feel really ill. It is useful for recurrent sufferers to know about how to prevent ear infections ruining your life.
The main preventable or avoidable causes are water, bacteria and trauma to the ear canal.
- Avoid prolonged or repeated immersion in water; ZenPlugs ear plugs can help if this is unavoidable
- Avoid irritants such as soap and perfumed cosmetics in the ear canal
- Sea water is laden with bacteria, more so in warmer waters. Rinse the ears with drinking water and/or alcohol after exposure
- Trauma to the ear canal lets bacteria in; don't put fingers/pen lids in the ears. This is often very hard in the early stages when the irritation is setting in
- Non-resolution of infection despite treatment may be due to allergy to ear drops. Consult your doctor if you're not getting better.
Prevention is better than cure and everyone is different. With trial and error it is often possible to find what is causing or the repeated infections.
By Dr Toby Bateson for http://zenplugs.com