With the arrival of summer this week, summer activities are in full swing, including regular swimming, diving and more active water sports such as water skiing, wakeboarding and tubing. While much attention is directed to safety in and on the water, we see water related ear problems every year, most of which are entirely unavoidable and random. It can be confusing as a patient trying to decide whether an ear needs to be seen and how quickly that is necessary. Otitis externa (“swimmer’s ear”), is easily the most frequently seen ENT problem related to water activities. It accounts for numerous office visits in a specialty ENT practice, as well as in primary care offices and urgent care centers. Pain in the ear (often quite severe) with blockage and often drainage are hallmarks of this problem. The ear is often exquisitely sensitive to pressure or pulling on the visible outside portion of the ear. While this condition often responds well to antibiotic eardrops, especially when discovered early ...

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