Professionals from the Otorhinolaryngology Service of the University Hospital of Torrevieja warn about the increase in cases of external otitis as a result of the heat, especially during recent weeks, in which bathing in beaches and swimming pools joins the increase in temperature and environmental humidity and, consequently, increased sweating.
External otitis or swimmer’s otitis is an infection of the external auditory canal and is more frequent in summer. Although the quality of the water in which we bathe is a factor to consider, according to the head of the Otorhinolaryngology Service, Aurora López, “the main factor for the development of external otitis is maceration of the skin of the external auditory canal”.
It is an infection that is caused by the change of conditions that occur in the external auditory canal, creating a perfect environment for the proliferation of bacteria or fungi.
During the summer period, the increase in ambient temperature, the ambient humidity in this area, prolonged bathing and excessive sweating can aggravate this type of infection. To these factors, which predispose to external otitis, are added other causes such as lesions in the skin of the duct, allergies, chronic skin problems, chronic diseases such as diabetes and other diseases that alter immunity.
Children are more prone to this type of infection, in addition to having a narrower duct and much more delicate skin, they are the family members who spend the most time in the water.
“In external otitis pain is an almost constant symptom. There is pain when the pinna is moved, when it is pressed in front of the ear, or when chewing. We can also see secretion in the external auditory canal. Itchy ears can be an early and frequent discomfort. Another symptom is the feeling of not hearing well because the duct is inflamed and with secretions. Fortunately, this hearing loss is reversible with the right treatment”, added Aurora López.
The Otorhinolaryngology Service of the University Hospital of Torrevieja proposes a series of recommendations to take care of the ears in summer:
The ears should be carefully dried after bathing, either with the tip of a towel, gauze or a tissue. Tilting your head to one side or the other can help get residual water out of the duct. As far as possible, the ears should not remain too long in the water. Drying of ears with cotton buds is not recommended.
Patients should avoid repeated cleaning of earwax and even less cleaning with cotton swabs (which impact the earwax towards the eardrum) or the introduction of other instruments into the ear (forks, clips…) that can damage the skin of the canal.
Unless prescribed by a doctor, plugs should not be used. In this way, the natural ventilation of the skin of the duct will be favoured. Medical personnel may recommend the use of plugs for patients with a predisposition to summer otitis externa, chronic skin problems, or other ear conditions.
As prevention, and under medical prescription, drops of acidifying substances can be used for the skin of the duct, such as boric acid, after bathing.