Swimmer's Ear vs Inner Ear Infection

Friday, August 20th, 2021, 10:47 am

Swimmer’s ear and inner ear infections are both common causes of an earache. While both of these conditions cause ear pain, there are distinct differences between the two. To effectively treat ear pain, it’s essential to discover its root cause. So, let’s discuss swimmer’s ear and an inner ear infection, as well as how to differentiate between the two. 

Swimmer’s Ear

Swimmer’s ear is an infection that affects the outer ear canal. Oftentimes, it’s caused by water that stays in the ear, which establishes an ideal environment for bacteria to grow. While it’s often caused by (as you can tell by the name) swimming, the swimmer’s ear can also stem from frequently putting cotton swabs or fingers in the ears. 

With swimmer’s ear, pain occurs near the ear opening. Additionally, the outer ear often appears inflamed and red, with an appearance much like a rash. In moderate to severe cases, swimmer’s ear can also cause decreased hearing out of the infected ear. 

Most cases of swimmer’s ear are treated by a doctor with prescription ear drops. These eardrops typically contain a combination of an antibiotic, antifungal, steroid, and acidic solution. 

Inner Ear Infections

An inner ear infection occurs when the innermost portion of the ear becomes infected. The inner ear contains the cochlea, which receives auditory signals and sends those signals as a message to the brain. The inner ear also consists of semicircular ducts, which inform the brain of the body and head’s positioning, contributing to our ability to balance. 

Since the inner ear contains structures that impact our sense of balance, many people experience symptoms beyond ear pain including dizziness, nausea, trouble with balance, and even vomiting. Trouble hearing out of the infected ear is also a common symptom of an inner ear infection. 

Inner ear infections are most commonly caused by a virus, and much less commonly by bacteria. In contrast, swimmer’s ear is always a bacterial infection. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter or prescription medications including antiviral, antibiotics, steroids, painkillers, and nausea medications. 

For trusted earache treatment, visit Suncoast Urgent Care today. 

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Category: Infections


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