Microsuction for Otitis Externa / Swimmer’s Ear
Otitis externa is an inflammatory condition that affects the external ear canal. It is either infective, reactive or environmental.
Environmental otitis externa
Environmental causes of otitis externa are seen in warm humid climates and can occur when people bathe and water enters the ear canal (so called swimmers ear). The ear canal is a dry blind ended sac that should be dry otherwise the wet environment leads to dessication of the skin and secondary infection.
Infective otitis externa
Infective otitis externa is most commonly bacterial or fungal in its nature. Bacterial infections can often occur if water enters the ear canal or if the ear canal is traumatized by the insertion of implements such as cotton buds or fingernails etc.
Reactive otitis externa
Reactive otitis externa occurs as a result of certain skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. It requires aggressive treatment of the condition and careful clearance of the ear.
Otitis externa / swimmers ear is an extremely uncomfortable condition in the acute phase that produces symptoms of pain, blocked ears, decreased hearing and discharge from the ears. When more chronic it produces symptoms of chronic itching and discharge from the ears.
Treatment is in the form of patient advice and medical treatment.
- Keep the ears dry. Use cotton wool with Vaseline on bathing. Do not wash the ears. Do not go swimming in an acute episode without ear protection.
- Do not irritate the ears with any foreign objects such as cotton buds or fingernails these will traumatize the ear canal and introduce infection.
- Contact ENT surgeon if symptoms worsening.
- Ear drops are commonly used in the treatment of otitis externa and they often include a mix of antibacterial and steroids (for the anti-inflammatory effect).
- Microsuction is the gentle hovering of the debris out of the external ear canal to allow for the introduction of the eardrops.
- Ear wicks are a dressing placed in a swollen external ear canal to splint the ear canal open and allow for the administration of the ear drops.