Pharmacy Corner
Middle ear infections: what parents should know What is swimmer’s ear?

Many parents think that all ear infections are caused by swimming. But they are actually two very different infections. Swimmer’s ear is a painful condition, where contact with the water causes small breakdown of the skin which can allow bacteria to grow in the ear canal, and cause pain, swelling, itching, and sometimes hearing problems.2,3,5 Swimmer’s ear does not have the symptoms of cold and fever like middle ear infection. 2,3,5 Your physician can easily tell the difference by looking into the ear with a special scope.5

The following table shows a comparison between an ear infection and swimmer’s ear symptoms:2,3,5

SymptomsSwimmer’s earMiddle ear infection
Water in the ear
Usually starts with a cold or sore throat
Ear pain
Fever
(most of cases)
Swelling
Itching
Hearing problem
(temporary)
Sometimes
Ear dischargeWatery dischargeThick yellow fluid