What you could have instead, is a condition that’s called otomycosis. This is a fungal infection that can affect one, or sometimes even both of your ears.
Thankfully, it’s a condition that won’t result in any major complications. Although it can become chronic, you’ll have a variety of treatment options that can fix the problem.
To help you gain a better understanding of this condition, we here at OhMyEar have put together a short guide on the basics of otomycosis.
How does otomycosis form in the first place?
This condition boils down the presence of certain types of fungus that has found its way into your ear. It encompasses nearly 60 species of fungi, with the most common being Aspergillus and Candida. Otomycosis is the name for the fungal infection of the ear canal.
Chances are, you’ll have a greater risk of catching this fungus if you live in a more tropical climate, or warm part of the globe. These areas provide the perfect environment for fungi to thrive in, thanks to the heat and moisture.
You can also run into this condition if you swim in contaminated water, have a weak immune system, live with diabetes, endure chronic skin problems, or have faced some type of trauma to the ear before. People who were treated with antibiotics may develop fungal infections. No matter what you think is the root cause of your otomycosis, there are some key signs to determine whether it is that infection in the first place.
How do I know if this growth in my ear is otomycosis?
There are a number of tell-tale symptoms that can help you narrow down the list of infections to otomycosis. Some of the most common ones include itching, slight pain, followed by plugged feeling of your ear. You may also notice your ears becoming red in color, or even flaking skin.
Apart from the ear itself, you’ll almost always notice a discharge or fluid that leaks out of your ear. It can range in a number of different colors, from white, yellow, red, gray, or even green.
The more you leave your otomycosis untreated, the higher the chance you may start to notice other symptoms such as a ringing noise, a heavy feeling or fullness, or hearing changes.
If you have any of these symptoms, it’s best to consult your physician about it right away. They can confirm the condition in your ear, and begin to treat it so that you don’t have to live with it chronically.
How is otomycosis diagnosed and treated?
Once you take a visit to the doctor’s office, they’ll take a look at your medical history, and conduct a physical exam to determine whether you have otomycosis.
First, they’ll use an otoscope, which is a device that can shine a light into your ears. This allows your doctor to have a better visual on your eardrum and ear canal. Then, for even further confirmation, they may give your ears a swab to run some tests on the discharge, or fluid that accumulates. If the organisms they find under the microscopes are indeed fungi, then they’ll officially diagnose you with otomycosis.
However, there’s no big reason to panic. Because of how easy it is to treat, your doctors can act right away. The first step often starts with a deep cleaning of your ear to remove the discharge and buildup that remains. Next, they’ll provide you with some antifungal ear drops that you can use several times a day for a week or more. You also have to keep your ears completely dry.
In case the fungus you contract is resistant to ear drop treatment methods, then you can also rely on an oral medication like Diflucan to kill it off. For otomycosis conditions that have a greater effect on the outside of your ear, a doctor might also prescribe a topical medication for you to apply.
During this treatment period, over-the-counter medications like Tylenol or an anti-inflammatory drug are available to help ease the pain.
Finally, with the permission of your doctor, you can try some at-home remedies to help reduce the buildup. Diluted vinegar or over-the-counter medications that contain acetic acid have been shown to clear up your ear canals of fungal infection.
If you ever find yourself feeling a growth in your ear, don’t have fear.
Even though otomycosis might seem scary while you have it, there are plenty of antifungal treatments that can easily get rid of it. Just be sure to address it as soon as possible before it becomes chronic!
To prevent your infection from recurring, try to keep your ears free of excess moisture and make sure they’re as dry as possible. If you have other chronic conditions such as diabetes, a weakened immune system, or a skin condition, you should try to get those under control as well.
At the end of the day, you don’t have to worry about losing your hearing or doing irreparable damage to your ears. As long as you seek the right treatment options, otomycosis won’t stay where it doesn’t belong for long!