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Otitis externa treatment, diagnosis & prescriptions

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For acute conditions: Can a doctor treat otitis externa on Maple?

Yes, a doctor on Maple can treat acute otitis externa once you’ve been given an otitis externa diagnosis.

The doctor will probably ask you to visit a clinic so that they can examine your inner ear more closely before suggesting any otitis externa prescriptions.

For chronic & mental health conditions: Can I talk to a doctor on Maple about otitis externa?

Yes, a doctor on Maple will be happy to discuss your condition with you.

If you’ve had a history of otitis externa in the past, it could be more likely for this condition to recur.

The doctor may refer to past otitis externa treatments you’ve had to treat your otitis externa symptoms or they may ask you to visit a clinic for further evaluation before confirming an otitis externa diagnosis.

Can I get a prescription on Maple?

Yes, our physicians can prescribe otitis externa medications online during your consultation. Once you accept a prescription, you’ll have the option to pick it up from any pharmacy or to have it delivered to your door at no additional cost.

You can visit our How it works page to learn more.

What is otitis externa?

Otitis externa, also known as “swimmer’s ear”, is an inflammation of the external auditory canal, which is the area that connects the eardrum to the outer ear.

It can be the result of infection, allergies, or a dermatologic cause.

What are the symptoms of otitis externa?

Otitis externa signs and symptoms can vary, depending on how far along the inflammation has progressed.

These can be divided into mild, moderate, and serious symptoms.

Mild otitis externa symptoms include:

  • Itchy ear canal
  • Redness in the interior of the ear
  • Some clear, odorless fluid draining from the ear
  • Mild discomfort or tenderness, which can be made worse by pulling on the outer ear or pressing on the tragus (the little bump) at the front of the ear

Moderate otitis externa symptoms include:

  • Worsening pain
  • Excessive drainage of fluid
  • Muffled or decreased hearing in the affected ear
  • Severe itching
  • Redness spreading further in the ear
  • Feeling like there is something stuck in your ear

Serious otitis externa symptoms include:

  • Total blockage, possibly causing complete hearing loss in that ear
  • Redness or swelling spreading to the outside of the ear
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • Fever
  • Foul-smelling, yellowish discharge from the ear
  • Severe pain that can spread to the neck, face, or side of the head
What causes otitis externa?

Typically, otitis externa causes can be traced to three sources:

  • Abrasions or scratches within the ear canal
  • Allergic reactions to certain cosmetic products or jewelry
  • Excessive moisture in the ear

These otitis externa causes can be minimized by avoiding certain things that will increase your risks of contracting this condition, such as:

  • Jamming objects into the ear (fingers, cotton swabs, etc.)
  • Using devices that occlude the ear (earbuds, hearing aids, etc.)
  • Getting water into your ear that is contaminated with bacteria or funguses (such as that found in public pools, or untreated, stagnant water like those found in some ponds or lakes)
  • Using products that you know may cause allergic reactions (cosmetics, jewelry, etc.)

Some dermatologic conditions can make you predisposed to experiencing otitis externa, such as psoriasis or atopic dermatitis.

Radiation exposure to the area can also alter the skin-cerumen (ear wax) barrier, and cause otitis externa.

How is otitis externa diagnosed?

Normally, an otitis externa diagnosis would be given after a doctor examines your ear canal and eardrum, to ensure the eardrum isn’t also inflamed or infected. If it is, this could suggest an alternate cause or a middle ear infection (concomitant otitis media).

In some cases, the doctor may suggest having a sample of the discharge from the ear tested, to help identify what microorganism is causing your infection.

This will help them identify the most efficient otitis externa treatment options for you, including specific otitis externa prescriptions you may need to fight off certain types of fungal or bacterial infections.

How is otitis externa treated?

In most cases, the doctor could suggest otitis externa medications to treat the infection and help reduce the severity of your otitis externa symptoms.

The types of otitis externa medications they suggest will depend on their recommendations, as well as the severity of the infection. Some possible otitis externa prescriptions include:

  • Antifungals (for fungal infections)
  • Steroids (to reduce inflammation)
  • Acidic solutions (to help restore your ear’s natural antibacterial environment)

Topical antibiotic medications are sometimes used in treatment of moderate to severe otitis externa. Also, oral antibiotics are sometimes used in combination with steroid and acidic solutions to treat severe cases.

During treatment, do your best to try and keep your ears clean and dry. This will help avoid further irritation or worsening the infection, as well as allow medications to work effectively.

When to see a doctor for otitis externa?

If you have symptoms or signs of otitis externa, you should talk to your doctor right away.

The infection can become serious if it’s left untreated, so it’s best to seek treatment for otitis externa as soon as possible after you begin showing symptoms.

What is Maple?

With Maple, you can start talking to a doctor about your symptoms in a matter of minutes. We’re a healthcare platform for fast, convenient 24/7 access to Canadian doctors.

Simply log in, tap a button to request a consultation, and we’ll immediately connect you to a doctor via live chat or video. You can visit our How it works page to learn more.

Our doctors can assess symptoms and provide treatment, including prescriptions as necessary.

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