New York Eye and Ear Infirmary
Adjust: Text Size Make Font Smaller Make Font Larger Print this Page: Normal Print Friendly Large Print Friendly Accessibility Info
Swimmer's Ear (Acute External Otitis)

View a Video Animation about Swimmer's Ear

In order to view the content, you must install the Adobe Flash Player. Please click here to get started.

The most common disease of the outer ear is called swimmers ear, or external otitis (otitis externa).

As the name suggests, it happens when water gets into the outer ear (see structure and function of the ear) and causes an infection. This is much more common in the summer when people are actively swimming.

The symptoms of swimmers ear include an ear blockage and hearing loss associated with pain and, occasionally, foul smelling drainage.

Treatment includes cleaning the ear canal and applying a topical antibiotic ear drop. In more severe cases an oral antibiotic may be indicated. The hearing loss is a conductive hearing loss (see types of hearing loss) and should resolve completely when the ear infection is cured.

Find a Doctor

About NYEE Services

Locate a physician affiliated with New York Eye and Ear Infirmary according to specialty and/or location

Find out how to schedule an appointment with one of New York Eye and Ear Infirmary's General Care Centers