7 Symptoms of Swimmer’s Ear

Anyone who has gone swimming and submerged their head knows what it feels like to have water stuck in your ear. It’s not painful, it just feels like someone has muffled the sound in the affected ear. Usually, you can just tip your head to one side until your hearing goes back to normal, but sometimes a little bit of water will stay behind without you realizing it. This water can create a breeding ground for bacteria, and it’s this bacteria that causes an infection known as swimmer’s ear.

If you think you or your children have swimmer’s ear, don’t panic. It’s a very common bacterial infection, especially in young kids, and it’s usually easy to treat and identify. You’ll want to talk to your doctor, to make sure you get the medicine you need, but it’s not something you will have to get tests or imaging for. Treatment is easy, too, and with the proper care, the infection will usually go away in a few days.

While it’s easy to self-diagnose swimmer’s ear, you do need to be aware of any symptoms you might be feeling. Identifying these symptoms will help you determine whether you should seek medical help or stick with over-the-counter ear drops.

1. Ear Pain

Ear pain is the most obvious symptom of swimmer’s ear. Mild discomfort will likely be the symptom you notice first, and as the infection gets worse, the pain will intensify. If your ear starts to hurt, don’t jump to the immediate conclusion that swimmer’s ear is the problem. You need to consider the circumstances. Think about the last time water was near your ear canals, if you remember getting water stuck in your ear, or if there are any other factors that might have caused the discomfort you’re feeling.

It’s also important to pay attention to where the pain is coming from. Swimmer’s ear affects your outer ear canal, which means the pain will be located closer to the outside of your ear. Your whole outer ear may end up hurting when touched, too. If the pain feels like it’s coming deep within your ear or between your inner ear and throat, it’s likely you have an ear infection instead of swimmer’s ear. Treatments for the two types of infection differ, so talk to your doctor if you’re not sure which you have. They will be able to advise you further.