The external auditory meatus, which refers to the tube from the entrance of the ear to the tympanic membrane, is curved in an S-shape, and hairs, sebaceous glands, and auditory canal glands are distributed. In particular, earwax, which is formed by the combination of secretions secreted by the wax glands and deciduous epithelial cells, plays an important role in protecting the external auditory canal from external bacteria as well as inhibiting the proliferation of bacteria. Otitis externa refers to an inflammation of the outer ear canal caused by a bacterial or fungal infection due to the breakdown of the defense mechanism that protects the ear canal. Depending on the severity and duration of symptoms, it can be divided into acute otitis externa, chronic otitis externa, and malignant otitis externa.
It is known that acute otitis externa is caused by causative bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus. When water enters the ear and stays moist, the fat layer and waterproof function that prevent the intrusion of bacteria in the ear canal are destroyed, which leads to inflammation by various causative bacteria. In addition, it is known that inflammation is caused by fungal infection or eczema. In addition, chronic otitis externa, which is caused by inflammation lasting more than several months, is not only caused by bacteria and fungi like acute otitis externa, but is also known to be caused by various causes such as contact allergy, seborrheic dermatitis, diabetes, and psoriasis.
And it is known that the hot climate and high humidity are important antecedent factors affecting the occurrence of otitis externa. When the temperature and humidity inside the external auditory canal become high, the external auditory canal, which is normally acidic, changes to alkaline or neutral, which makes it easier for bacteria to multiply. there is. Now, let’s take a look at the various symptoms that appear when otitis externa occurs, as well as various information about treatment and prevention.
Main symptoms of otitis externa
The most common symptom of otitis externa is pain. This pain has a characteristic that gets worse when the auricle is pulled. In addition, itching, a feeling of fullness in the ear, and symptoms such as inflammation and redness or swelling in the ear canal may occur. In addition, there may be temporary deafness caused by blockage of the external auditory meatus with edema or secretions.
In severe cases, this otitis externa can cause ear pain and even lead to facial nerve palsy or cranial nerve palsy. Also, as the walls of the ear canal become thicker, the passageway through which sound passes narrows, and this action can also cause hearing loss. Also, if the immune function is weakened, such as patients undergoing chemotherapy or elderly diabetic patients, the occurrence of otitis externa caused by P. aeruginosa can lead to malignant otitis externa, and the risk of facial paralysis or cranial nerve palsy increases. Therefore, it can be said that it is very important to receive examination and treatment as soon as possible when symptoms appear.
Otitis externa treatment and prevention
1. Accurate diagnosis and treatment procedures
For external otitis externa, the condition of the ear canal and the condition of the eardrum can be accurately observed and confirmed through the examination and otoscope examination. Hearing tests can be performed if there is hearing loss, and if there is mucus or pus, a bacterial culture test may be performed in some cases. In addition, to differentiate it from other diseases, radiological examinations, biopsies, and blood tests are sometimes performed. According to the results of the diagnosis through various tests, various treatment methods are carried out for the purpose of controlling pain and cleaning the external auditory meatus. In the initial stage, a drug mixed with antibiotics and steroids is applied to the ear canal, or antibiotics for cases are prescribed. If the infection spreads beyond the ear canal, systemic antibiotics are prescribed for treatment. And if the ear canal is blocked by edema, a drainage wick is inserted and the droplet is passed through the ear canal.
2. Avoid habits that stimulate the ear canal
To prevent otitis externa, it is important to refrain from activities that may irritate the external auditory canal, such as digging or picking with cotton swabs, earpicks, or paper. In particular, frequent picking of the ear to remove earwax increases the incidence of otitis externa, because earwax contains a substance called lysozyme that acts as a defense against infections such as bacteria. Therefore, it is important to limit as much as possible anything that irritates the ear canal, such as picking the ear canal or digging earwax. In addition, it is important to use earplugs when swimming to prevent water from entering the ear canal, and if water gets into your ears after swimming or after bathing, adjusting the dryer to a weak wind and drying it from a distance is also helpful.
3. Beware of using earphones for a long time
It is important not to use the earphones for a long time in the hot and humid summer or rainy season, as it can also affect the growth of bacteria in the ear. Also, changing the rubber plug of earphones frequently or wiping them clean is an important management habit for preventing otitis externa in advance. In addition, it is important to keep this in mind when using earphones without washing your hair and drying your ears properly, as bacteria can multiply more easily.
Although it is known that there is no special dietary regimen to prevent otitis externa, it is known that diabetes has a lot to do with the occurrence of otitis externa.