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Fungal Ear Infections

A fungal ear infection is an infection with a fungus and normally involves the canal that runs from the ear hole to the eardrum. The medical term is otomycosis.

What causes a fungal ear infection?
Fungal infection of the ear is more common in people living in tropical and subtropical countries. It is also more common in people who do a lot of water sports like diving and surfing and is more likely to occur in the summer then the winter.

Ear wax protects the lining of the ear from fungus so anything that reduces the amount of wax such as seawater or the excessive use of cotton buds can allow a fungal infection to take hold. Eczema of the skin inside the ear can also result in a fungal ear infection.

What are the symptoms of a fungal ear infection?
Typically, the ear starts to look red and the skin on the outer part of the ear becomes scaly. It may start to itch and become quite uncomfortable with a discharge beginning to leak out of the ear.

The itching can be worse with fungal infections. Apart from this, the symptoms of a fungal infection are often identical to infections caused by bacteria. Often, your doctor may prescribe antibiotic drops thinking you have another type of ear infection and may only suspect a fungal infection when the treatment does not work.

Fungal infections usually cause a fair amount of pain and discharge so see your GP if:

  • You are in pain
  • Your ear produces a lot of discharge
  • You feel generally unwell or develope symptoms such as dizziness
  • You have a high temperature
  • Your ear looks mucky
  • You suffer hearing loss.


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