ENT Head & Neck Surgery Center

Rm 02, 5/F., Kai Seng Commerical Centre,
4-6 Hankow Road, TST Kln, HK
(near Kowloon Hotel)
Tel: (852) 3100 0555
Fax: (852) 3100 0556

Lawrence Chow / ENT Doctor

Swimmer’s Ear Can Affect Everybody

Many people think that swimmer’s ear can only affect swimmers because of its name. But this isn’t the case as it can affect men, women and children. Fortunately, it’s among the most treatable ear infections, especially when early diagnosis can be made.


Infection in the Outer Ear


Swimmer’s ear is known as such because it most commonly affects swimmers. In both swimmers and non-swimmers alike, nonetheless, it refers to an infection of the outer ear structures particularly in the ear canal.


It usually happens when water becomes trapped in the ear canal resulting in the growth of bacteria and, thus, in the infection. Emphasis must be made that the bacteria normally inhabit the skin in general and the ear canal in particular. But in a moist environment, these pathogens can multiply leading to the infection.


When left untreated, swimmer’s ear can actually progress to the outer ear. Your doctor will then treat both parts of the ear so as to clear up the infection.


Ear Becomes Affected


The common symptoms of swimmer’s ear include:


  • Mild to moderate pain that can be worsened by tugging on the affected outer ear
  • Intense pain in the ear that may or may not radiate to the surrounding areas (i.e., face, side of head, or neck)
  • Feeling of itchiness in the ear
  • Ear feels either full or with a blockage
  • Fever
  • Drainage (i.e., fluid oozing out of the ear)
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Decreased sense of hearing


In many cases, the outer ear appears to be pushed away or forward from the skull. When you have many of these symptoms, you should see your doctor as a medical evaluation is a must for a definitive diagnosis.


Tools of Diagnosis


The diagnostic evaluation usually involves the following:


  • Physical examination of the ear canal using a otoscope
  • Visualization of the eardrum to determine whether it’s damaged or not


Your doctor may also use other diagnostic measures, such as laboratory tests. You may even be referred to an ENT specialist in case your case has become severe, such as with a torn eardrum.


The good news: Swimmer’s ear can be treated with a wide range of methods. Early diagnosis is a must because severe cases will require more drastic measures. The treatment plan for early-stage swimmer’s ear includes the following:


  • Cleaning of the ear canal, a procedure done by your doctor
  • Ear drops, which inhibit bacterial growth, will be prescribed to treat the primary infection
  • Topical steroids can also speed up the healing process
  • Painkillers can be prescribed, too


Even when the infection has apparently cleared up, you should continue with your ENT doctor’s prescribed treatment plan as it can recur.  For more details of your ear diseases or hearing problems, please consult your ENT doctor / ENT Specailist.



HK ENT Specialist offer ear services as below:

Ear (Otology)

Neonatal hearing screening

Paediatric and adult hearing test

Hearing restoration treatments including cochlear implant surgery, bone anchored hearing aid surgery

Stapedectomy and ossiculoplasty

A comprehensive range of micro ear surgery, etc.


註: 本站無論中文繁體,中文簡體和英文內容所提及的疾病和治療方法僅供讀者參考,並不代表本站推薦該種療法,亦不能代替專業醫生診治,讀者如有需要,應該尋求專業醫生意見或聯絡香港耳鼻喉專科。