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Interview with Dr. Craig Collison about Swimmer's Ear

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Medical Minute - 2:07

Dave Kurten: The 3WZ Medical Minute is brought to you by Mount Nittany Health. Our topic this week: swimmers ear. Our guest is Dr. Craig Collison. What exactly is swimmer’s ear?

Dr. Collison: Swimmer’s ear is a layman’s term for an infection of the outer canal of the ear. This is opposed to a true ear infection or otitis media, which is a middle ear infection that usually comes with colds. This is caused by water being left over after swimming. Water breaks the skin down, which is very thin, and bacteria that are on the skin there can cause an infection of the skin itself. This can also be caused by a scratch in the ear canal. It can be caused by headphones or swabs, or by just putting one’s finger in the ear and scratching it that way.

Dave Kurten: What are the symptoms of swimmer’s ear?

Dr. Collison: Swimmer’s ear typically has mild symptoms at first. It will include itching in the ear canal, slight redness of the ear and discomfort in the ear. As it progresses, it tends to get very painful. Any kind of touching of the outside of the ear, even chewing and moving your jaw can cause significant pain like that. Other things you can see include some drainage, swelling of the ear canal and even some discharge of mucus or pus from there.

Dave Kurten: How can swimmer’s ear be treated?

Dr. Collison: Swimmer’s ear is treated with antibiotic drops. They need to be obtained through your pediatrician. There are swimmer’s ear drops that you can find over the counter in the store, but they are preventive only; they’re not specifically for treatment once you have it.

Dave Kurten: Where can community members get more information on swimmer’s ear?

Dr. Collison: Folks in the community can visit our website at mountnittany.org.

Dave Kurten: Dr. Craig Collison has been our guest on this edition of the Medical Minute. Thank you for your time. The 3WZ Medical Minute is brought to you by Mount Nittany Health.


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