Symptoms

Outer ear infections usually begin with mild itching and a feeling of discomfort. This can progress rapidly resulting in severe pain, swelling of the ear canal and blockage. Sometimes there can be discharge which can have a pungent sweet odour. If untreated it can spread to involve the pinna and cheek.

Swollen+canal.jpg

With an outer ear infection pressing the tragus (the pointy bit in front of the ear canal) is painful.

This is in contrast to a middle ear infection where the pain is deep in the ear but there is no discomfort on touching the actual ear.

Patients with diabetes are at risk of a particularly aggressive form of otitis externa (malignant otitis externa) and should be treated urgently