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What can happen if you don't treat swimmer's ear?

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Swimmer's ear is usually not a dangerous condition and often clears up within a few days after starting treatment. However, if untreated, it can become extremely and surprisingly painful. In rare cases, especially in diabetes patients or anyone with problems with their immune system, the infection may be more difficult to treat and can spread and damage underlying bones and cartilage, requiring hospitalization.

SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: "Swimmer's Ear."

CDC: "Facts About 'Swimmer's Ear."

UpToDate: "External Otitis: Treatment," "External Otitis (Including Swimmer's Ear) (Beyond the Basics)," "Malignant (Necrotizing) External Otitis"

Cleveland Clinic: "Otitis Externa (Swimmer's Ear)."

KidsHealth: "Swimmer's Ear."

FamilyDoctor: "Otitis Externa (Swimmer's Ear)."

Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on September 6, 2017

SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: "Swimmer's Ear."

CDC: "Facts About 'Swimmer's Ear."

UpToDate: "External Otitis: Treatment," "External Otitis (Including Swimmer's Ear) (Beyond the Basics)," "Malignant (Necrotizing) External Otitis"

Cleveland Clinic: "Otitis Externa (Swimmer's Ear)."

KidsHealth: "Swimmer's Ear."

FamilyDoctor: "Otitis Externa (Swimmer's Ear)."

Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on September 6, 2017

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How is swimmer's ear treated?

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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

    This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.