Ear Canal Infection

The infection of the external ear canal is a relatively non-serious, but annoying and painful disease. The external ear canal transmits the sound waves from the auricle (which has a shape resembling the funnel) towards the eardrum.


The infection is usually causes by bacteria. They frequently penetrate into the ear during swimming with contaminated water. Therefore, the infection is also known as the “Disease of swimmers”. Another cause may be excessive production and accumulation of earwax that clogs the ear canal. Paradoxically, this may occurs in people who clean their ears too carefully by using cleaning sticks. These sticks can tamp the earwax and prevent its natural removal. Accumulated earwax is an ideal place for bacterial presence and multiplication.


The inflammation manifests with a very unpleasant pain in the ear on the affected side. In addition, the person suffers from fever, fatigue and other general signs of infection. More severe cases may be associated with significant disturbance of hearing and with purulent and bloody discharge from the affected ear.


The person is usually examined by a otolaryngologist who can use special tools to view the canal with finding the accumulation of earwax and inflammatory changes (mucosal congestion, pus, etc.).


The clogged and inflamed ear canal can be flushed. It is rather an annoying and painful procedure, but it brings a quick relief. Antibiotics are prescribed to treat the bacterial infection. Supportive therapy may include anti-inflammatory drugs, bed rest and adequate intake of fluids.


Jiri Stefanek, MD  Author of texts: Jiri Stefanek, MD
 Contact: jiri.stefanek@seznam.cz
 Sources: basic text sources