Earache is one of the most common problems seen in this clinic during the summer months, especially in kids. These earaches are quite different to those kids get at home in the winter, when the most common cause is a middle ear infection. The pain here is usually caused by an infection of the ear canal…this is called otitis externa or “swimmer’s ear”.
These infections are very painful and the discomfort often spreads to the jaw and chewing can be painful. If not treated, the infection can spread to the outer ear itself and the skin around swells making the ear “stick out”.
In most cases oral antibiotics are not indicated; topical treatment is required, but the ear canal is swollen, and the medication does not stay in contact with the skin of the ear canal long enough to be effective. In these cases we use a small wick that we place in the ear canal for two days, that soaks up the medication and keeps it in contact with the ear canal. After two days the wick can be removed and treatment continued with drops.
Swimmer’s ear does not get better quickly, and the discomfort usually does not improve significantly until the second 24 hours of treatment. These infections are not always easy to treat, occasionally further ear-packs are required and/or antibiotics. If left untreated, they can cause swelling of the outside of the ear and severe pain.
How to avoid them? Don’t get water in your ear, or if you really like messing about in the water, use silicone earplugs!
If you already have ear pain, the sooner you get treatment the easier it is to treat. Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information.