SymptomsBy Mayo Clinic staff
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|Outer ear infection|
Swimmer's ear symptoms are usually mild at first, but they may get worse if your infection isn't treated or spreads. Doctors often classify swimmer's ear according to mild, moderate and advanced stages of progression.
Mild signs and symptoms
- Itching in your ear canal
- Slight redness inside your ear
- Mild discomfort that's made worse by pulling on your outer ear (pinna, or auricle) or pushing on the little "bump" (tragus) in front of your ear
- Some drainage of clear, odorless fluid
- More intense itching
- Increasing pain
- More extensive redness in your ear
- Excessive fluid drainage
- Discharge of pus
- Feeling of fullness inside your ear and partial blockage of your ear canal by swelling, fluid and debris
- Decreased or muffled hearing
- Severe pain that may radiate to your face, neck or side of your head
- Complete blockage of your ear canal
- Redness or swelling of your outer ear
- Swelling in the lymph nodes in your neck
When to see a doctor
Contact your doctor if you're experiencing any signs or symptoms of swimmer's ear, even if they're mild.
Call your doctor right away or visit the emergency room if you have severe pain or a fever.
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- Swimmer's ear: Otitis externa. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/rwi/illnesses/swimmers-ear.html. Accessed Aug. 4, 2010.
- Swimmer's ear. American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery. http://www.entnet.org/HealthInformation/swimmersEar.cfm. Accessed Aug. 18, 2010.
- Rubin MA, et al. Pharyngitis, sinusitis, otitis and other respiratory tract infections. In: Fauci AS, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 17th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc.; 2008. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=2883486. Accessed Aug. 18, 2010.