How Do I Know If I Have Otitis Externa?

How Do I Know If I Have Otitis Externa? The condition is a common disorder affecting the ears.  It is caused by infection with bacteria or fungi.

Signs and symptoms.  These are the same as for infections and inflammation in other regions of the body, namely, redness, pain, swelling and exudate.  The individual may experience itching and flaking of the skin.  Reduced hearing and discharge may also be present.

Pathogens.  Pathogens are the bugs which cause the problem.  Pseudomonas, staphylococcus aureus and other bacteria invade the skin of the ear.  This results in classic signs of infection.

Risk factors.  There are various risk factors for ear infections.  Eczema and psoriasis are skin problems that cause inflammation and micro-damage to the skin.  Both of these can increase your risk of infection.  Inflammation causes altered blood flow.  This makes infection more likely and harder for the body to fight.  Diabetes makes people more likely to get infections of the skin.  This is also due to altered blood flow as well as high levels of sugar in the blood.  Swimmers and those who repeatedly wet their ears are also at risk of ear infections.

Prevention. Some cases could be prevented by wearing ear plugs when swimming.  This keeps water from the ears and prevents the damage it causes to the ears.  ZenPlugs are particularly good because they are also effectively antibacterial.

Diagnosis. A trained medical professional needs to examine the ear to look for the signs above in order to diagnose the condition.

Treatment. Standard treatment is with antibiotic drops such as gentamicin.  A drop containing a type of steroid and/or an antifungal agent may also be employed to fight the infection. In severe infection antibiotics may also be given by mouth.