Taking a dip in a pool or lake is one of the best ways to cool off as summer heats up. But summer in Minnesota also means a surge in cases of swimmer’s ear—a sometimes mildly painful (and occasionally excruciating) ear infection.
No need to worry though – this is just the type of common condition OnCare is designed to quickly treat, wherever you are. You don’t have to be a Fairview patient to use this online clinic. Just log in any time at oncare.org and answer questions about your symptoms and within an hour receive a diagnosis and treatment plan from a Fairview care provider.
“We often hear from parents who cut their vacation short to come home to visit their clinic for care. OnCare lets you accomplish the same thing and receive the same high quality care in a matter of minutes on your smartphone or computer,” says Dang Tran, MD, vice president of medical practice for Fairview Clinics.
What is swimmer’s ear?
Swimmer’s ear, or acute external otitis, is an infection in the outer ear canal. It’s typically trigged by water that stays in the canal for long periods of time, allowing bacteria to grow and infect the skin. Germs found in pools and lakes are the most common culprits, but the infection also can be a result of inserting objects, including your fingers and cotton-tip swabs, into the ear and damaging the skin.
“The infection is easily treated, especially if it’s caught early,” Dr. Tran said. “Symptoms are usually mild at first – a little discomfort, some itchiness – so people tend to wait to get it checked out, but the infection can get worse pretty quickly. Anyone who suspects they have swimmer’s ear should seek care right away.”
Mild symptoms include:
Left untreated, symptoms from swimmer’s ear get more intense and can lead to a severe ear pain and itching, decreased hearing ability and fever.
“Fortunately, things rarely get that far,” Dr. Tran said. “Swimmer’s ear is typically treatable with eardrops containing an antibiotic and a steroid to reduce inflammation.” Over-the-counter pain relievers are usually sufficient to deal with the discomfort.
Besides a diagnosis, people who use OnCare always receive great practical advice to prevent future problems. Dr. Tran says the No. 1 way to prevent the pain of swimmer’s ear – simply make sure to fully dry the ear canal after swimming. “A little caution can go a long way to ensuring that your vacation or summer get away isn’t interrupted by illness,” Tran said.
Swimmers ear and much more
OnCare gets people on the road to recovery fast, without a trip to a clinic. If a higher level of care is needed, such an emergency room, you don’t pay for your session. If you need a prescription it is sent instantly to a pharmacy of your choice. Besides swimmer’s ear, patients can get care for dozens of common conditions, including sinus and bladder infections, tick bites and pinkeye. You can use it 24/7 and you’ll receive a response back within an hour from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.