Acute otitis externa

"A complete head and neck scan is necessary to identify factors that predispose to this type of problem".


What is otitis externa?

Acute otitis externa is defined as the acute infection of the outer ear. It is a very common process in pediatric pathology.

Acute otitis externa (AEO) is mostly caused by germs of the genus pseudomas aeruginosa. Other germs involved are: streptococcus, S. epidermidis, enterobacter aerogenes, proteus mirabilis, klebsiella pneumoniae and fungi (candida and aspergillus).

It occurs more frequently during the summer months since one of the most frequent means of acquiring the disease is in swimming pools.

What are the symptoms of swimmer's ear?

Pain predominates. It is accentuated by drinking and manipulation. Itching is a frequent precursor to pain. It is characteristic of chronic inflammation.

Concentric ear canal swelling (CAE). There is also edema and erythema of the FAC. When the periauricular edema is intense, it can produce a forward thrust of the atrium. There is no inflammation of the back of the auricle. Normally, it does not have to be associated with fever.

In the acute disease there is the presence of greenish otorrhea (discharge from the ear canal).

Most common symptoms:

  • Earache.
  • Edema.
  • Otorrhea.

Do you have any of these symptoms?

You may have acute otitis externa

How is otitis externa diagnosed?

In an otitis externa the doctor establishes the diagnosis with the physical examination of the patient.

The otoscopy will show that the duct is red and inflamed. Thus, the diagnosis of otitis externa can be assured.

Culture of the ear exudate is usually unnecessary, but should be done in patients who do not improve with treatment. The most commonly isolated organisms are Pseudomonas and Staphylococcus species.

The differential diagnosis should be made primarily with acute otitis media, chronic otitis externa, cholesteatoma and cancer of the external auditory canal.

How is swimmer's ear treated?

Topical antibiotics. Ciprofloxacin of choice To associate symptomatic treatment of pain.

When the inflammatory process subsides, cleaning the ear canal with swabs or irritation with 2% acetic acid or 1.25% boric alcohol increases the effectiveness of topical measures that help eliminate debris. Periodic cleaning of the FAC in subacute or chronic infections is essential.

In children with recurrent otitis, alcohol or dilute acetic acid can be tried prophylactically immediately after swimming or bathing.

Acute diffuse and severe otitis externa is associated with fever and lymphadenitis. It requires treatment by mouth.

Where do we treat it?


The Department of Otolaryngology
of the Clínica Universidad de Navarra

The Department of Otorhinolaryngology of the University of Navarra Clinic is a national and world reference in numerous highly specialized surgical procedures.

We have the latest technology and we perform all diagnostic tests in less than 48 hours in order to offer our patients the best solution in the shortest time possible.

We were one of the first centers in Spain to use robotic surgery in the surgical treatment with the Da Vinci® System. 

Organized in specialized units:

  • Otology - Hearing.
  • Rhinology - Nose.
  • Pharyngology - Throat.
  • Laryngology - Voice.
  • Balance disorders.
  • Head and neck problems.
Imagen de la fachada de consultas de la sede en Pamplona de la Clínica Universidad de Navarra

Why at the Clinica?

  • Experts in the treatment of hearing problems.
  • Pioneers in axillary surgery to avoid scarring.
  • National reference center in tissue sealing for tonsil removal.

Our team of professionals