External ear infection or otitis is a skin infection that affects the ear canal. Bacteria are responsible for causing most cases of external otitis while only a few are triggered by fungi. In most cases of external ear infections, there is excess moisture present in the ear. Due to this, the condition is called as “swimmer’s ear”. The symptoms of this type of infection can range from mild to severe that some simply ignore while others would require assessment by a doctor.
Itchiness of the ear canal
The itchiness in the ear canal is usually an early indication of external ear infection. As the infection progresses, the itchiness can persist but the pain can become the evident symptom in most individuals.
External ear infection typically triggers an exceptional degree of pain. Pressing or pulling on the auricle can cause intense pain. The aching ear pain is considered usual but the pain can spread to the side of the head, face or the neck. Children might find the pain intense though.
Redness of the exterior ear
An external ear infection often causes reddening of the outer ear structure or auricle. In most cases, it is warm to the touch. In most cases, both the ear canal and the auricle can become inflamed. After a few days, the skin of the auricle will start to flake and peel.
Drainage of pus or fluid from the ear
Fluid typically drains from the ear canal when it comes to external ear infections. Initially, the fluid is predominantly clear. As the infection progresses, the drainage changes into an opaque, yellow fluid that often has foul odor.
It is important to note that the drainage is a combination of bacteria and pus. The typical causes of external ear infections include staphylococcus aureus, pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli and proteus vulgaris.
If an individual ends up with an external ear infection, it often causes swelling of the lymph nodes behind the ear. The ear of the individual might look elevated from the surface of the head or even appear thrusted forward due to the swelling that occurs.
Fever is not considered as a usual symptom of external otitis. In case fever does develop, it is an indication that the infection has invaded the tissues and bone around the ear canal. Take note that this condition is called as malignant otitis externa. This condition typically occurs among the elderly who have diabetes or those with a weakened immune system.
Swelling of the ear canal along with the presence of pus can block the normal transmission of sound to the middle ear. In most cases, the sounds heard by the individual might seem muffled and the hearing sensitivity is temporarily reduced in the affected ear. Once the infection subsides, the hearing capability returns to its previous level of acuity.