Swimmer's Ear - Symptoms

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What are symptoms of swimmer's ear?

  • The first symptom of infection is that the ear will feel full, and it may itch.
  • Next, the ear canal will swell, and ear drainage will follow.
  • At this stage the ear will be very painful, especially with movement of the outside portion of the ear. The ear canal can swell shut, and the side of the face can become swollen.
  • Finally, the lymph nodes of the neck may enlarge, making it difficult or painful to open the jaw.
  • People with swimmer's ear may experience some temporary hearing loss in the affected ear.
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See what others are saying

Comment from: WaterBaby75, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: July 31

I am a Pisces and a water lover by nature! I recently moved into a lakefront condo with a beautiful swimming pool, so my husband and children and I all took swims on a regular basis, sometimes as often as three or more times a week. I had only heard of swimmer's ear but had never experienced it firsthand. On a Friday evening at around 6, I noticed my ear beginning to itch. The itching went on throughout the night, and by the next Saturday morning, I woke up with crust around the opening of the ear and it felt full like I had water in it. I used Q-tips to try to clear the "water-in-the-ear" feeling (which I can't stand!), but it didn't help. This went on throughout the day. I woke up Sunday morning at around 2:30 a.m. in excruciating pain. The whole side of my right face was swollen and throbbing in pain. I knew it was the ear, but I also felt pain in my head, face, neck, throat, and jaw. It was the worst pain I've ever felt in my life! I ended up in the ER where they informed me that I had otitis externa (swimmer's ear) and prescribed antibiotic and numbing eardrops. I will never ever swim again without earplugs!

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Comment from: Scuba Diver, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: August 28

I am a scuba diving instructor and dive on a daily basis in the pool during teaching or in open water. In the last few years I encountered only 3-4 times ear problems, but not severe. Usually it's gone in 3 to 7 days maximum spread over a long time. Lately after a dive I had a feeling of fullness, as if water was trapped in my ear. I was jumping up and down to get the trapped water out, however not much success. Next day, this feeling continued but no pain. So I went diving, making one of my worst health mistakes. During the dive my ear started to hurt, even though I could equalize perfectly, so inside the ear, everything was apparently okay. Next dive, it got worse. I went to the doctor the same day, who explained to me that the ear canal was so swollen that he can't see the eardrum. So no diving for 2 weeks. I'm using Augmentin, and ofloxacin ear drops. First week I had immense pain, second week no pain or just a little. I went to the doctor again, just to get a clearance for diving. Bang! Perforated eardrum, 6-8 weeks no diving. Now I'm on ciprofloxacin and again on ofloxacin ear drops. So I don't know if the rupture was there from the beginning or developed later. If you have any kind of ear anomaly don't go swimming or never ever go diving!

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