Otitis Externa: Meaning, Diagnosis and Overview

What is Otitis Externa?

It is an inflammation of external ear and ear canal. It is also known as swimmers ear and external otitis. Along with otitis media it is called earache. Excessive moisture in the ear is the main reason of the infection. It occurs mainly in the swimmers hence the name but it also occur in the people who do not swim. It may be chronic, acute or localized.
  • Acute OE- This is most common type, occurs mainly in swimmers. It lasts not more than three weeks.
  • Chronic OE- This is same as acute OE but lasts for more than 6weeks up to years.
  • Localized OE- It is due to infection of hair follicle.
Otitis externa

Recovery Time

  • With proper treatment localized and acute OE show an improvement in 48 hrs, but to be kept dry and far from water for 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Chronic OE shows recovery in 6 weeks to several years based on patient and patient sensitivity.


  • Physical examination (using otoscope)
  • Sample of ear discharge should be sent to a lab to determine the causative organism for the infection.
  • CT scan may be advised, if necrotizing OE is suspected.
  Ear diagnosis

FAQs prepared by doctor

Q1.  What is Otitis Externa?
Otitis Externa is the inflammation of the external ear and the external auditory meatus caused due to fungi or bacteria. It commonly occurs in swimmers, so is also called Swimmers Ear.

Q2.  How do I get Otitis Externa?
You get OE if there is infection of the ear with bacteria or fungi. Presence of wax in the ear Uncontrolled DM and unhygienic conditions increase the risk of OE.

Q3.  What is the treatment for Otitis Externa?
Otitis Externa is treated with antimicrobial drops / ointments depending on the condition.

Q4.  How long does it take to cure? And Is there any chance of recurrence?
Otitis Exerna usually take 7-10 days to resolve. Later proper ear cleaning may be required to remove wax.

Q5.  How do I prevent Otitis Externa?
You can prevent Otitis Externa by cleaning the ear regularly and maintaining proper hygiene.

Q6.  What are the complications of Otitis Externa?  
Otitis Externa resolves without any complications with treatment.  Without treatment it goes to a chronic state spreading to adjacent parts of the body.

external ear, swimmers ear, ear inflammation, inflammation of outer ear, OE, ear pain, earache, ear canal, hearing loss, ear wax, acute otitis externa, chronic otitis externa, auditoryl loss, swim ear, swimming ear, otitis externa, Otitis Externa doctor question answer, Otitis Externa facts,