Please DO NOT DELETE this page.

Blog //
  • Wellbeing

Beware Swimmer's Ear

06 October, 2014

As summer approaches, there is one condition that swimmers should stay aware of - swimmer’s ear. Swimmer’s ear can be triggered by exposure to water and can lead to complications that affect a person’s ear canal.

This quick guide to swimmer’s ear outlines how to reduce the risk of contracting this painful condition.

Symptoms and complications

Swimmer’s ear, also known as otitis externa, is an infection or inflammation of the canal between the outer ear and the eardrum.

Symptoms of swimmer's ear include pain, itchiness, pus in the ear canal, compromised hearing and a buzzing or humming heard inside the ear. The infection can spread to the bones of the ear canal or even the lower part of the skull, leading to complications that require medical treatment.


Swimmer’s ear can be caused by water in the ear canal, damage resulting from too much cleaning or chemical irritation from hair products. Dirty water can infect the canal with bacteria, while over-zealous cleaning can lead to mechanical damage. Chemicals can irritate the tissue inside the ear, while infected hair follicles or cell build-up in the ear can also trigger the condition.

In some cases, a middle ear infection can trigger a related infection in the ear canal. Diabetes can also be a contributing factor, as this condition can create an alkaline environment in the ear that supports infectious agents.


Physical examinations with an otoscope are required for diagnosing swimmer’s ear. The ear canal may be red, peeling and/or scaled, or the eardrum might be swollen and inflamed. A microscopic exam could also be conducted to check whether the infection has been caused by fungi or bacteria.


Treatment options include cleaning and drainage, application of earplugs, painkillers, heat packs, antibiotic or anti-fungal medication or intravenous antibiotics. In very serious cases, surgery might be required to drain fluid and prevent further pressure from being placed on the ear and skull bones.

Preventing swimmer’s ear

Those who are exposed to water can reduce the risk of contracting swimmer’s ear by avoiding dirty or polluted waterways, wearing earplugs, drying ears thoroughly and avoiding over-cleaning of their ear canals. Seeking medical treatment when appropriate is also important.


1911_CBHS Skyscraper Banner-07

Suggested Articles

  • A person checking weight Loss

    Four simple rules to lose weight

    Dieting but not losing weight? You may have been given bad advice. Try following these four simple food rules to speed up your weight loss efforts.
    • Wellbeing
    16 January 2020
  • Face mask

    Should I be worried about smoke haze?

    Australia’s bush fire crisis has devastated many towns and rural communities. Cities not directly affected have been blanketed in smoke, but how hazardous is it?
    • Wellbeing
    16 January 2020
  • Volunteer firefighters

    Support from CBHS for volunteer firefighters

    We are extending our emergency relief program – set up to help members affected by bushfires - to any members who are also volunteer firefighters.
    • Membership
    9 January 2020
  • vegetarian meals

    Veganism. Not as nutty as you might think

    We weigh up the pros and cons of going vegan and examine claims that Australia’s fastest growing food trend is not only healthier but better for the planet too.
    • Nutrition
    7 January 2020

What Our Members Think

I joined as a CBHS member in 1978. Through many health events and challenges CBHS has always been there for me and my family. Their exceptional service over this time has always been appreciated.

- Jenny J

What Our Members Think

I've not long joined CBHS from another fund, but so far I've been impressed by the super helpful and friendly staff, the higher claim limits and rebates at a very competitive premium, and how easy it is to lodge manual claims through the app. Thanks CBHS - you've won me over! 😃

- Jessica B

What Our Members Think

What I love about CBHS is their customer service - friendly staff and always ready to help and email you the information you ask about. Keep up the great work!!!

- Linda S

What Our Members Think

I love CBHS as its so so easy to lodge a claim and whenever i need a question answered friendly consultant is one phone call away. The phone back option instead of waiting is brilliant!

- Rachel N

What Our Members Think

I have been with CBHS since I began at CBA 15 years ago...Now I have three beautiful children, one who has a disability. Our top extras cover has been really essential for his early intervention. I do love the ease of claiming online.

- Annette E

What Our Members Think

I am relatively new to CBHS and am loving it already. I worked for a CBA subsidiary a long time ago but was still eligible to join. So much better that the for-profit funds - our premium is only a little more and we pay a lower co-contribution and get great benefits. I am loving the massage rebate for my partner and gym rebate for me!

- David G

What Our Members Think

I'm extremely happy with CBHS! I have been a customer for about six years. I think the price is reasonable. And i would refer you to my family and friends any day. Thank you CBHS!!!

- Karen W

What Our Members Think

Love CBHS as I never have to doubt that they've got my back when I need it. Been through other insurers who have limited options or limits, yet cost the same or more.

- Mark F